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When Four Become One: UnitedLinux - page 3

The Birth of UnitedLinux

  • May 29, 2002
  • By Brian Proffitt

Almost every source contacted about this topic all stated emphatically that this is clearly a move against the monolithic Red Hat, whose sales of Red Hat Linux have so dominated the Linux market.

With this target in mind, Claybrook stated, one bar to measure the success of this venture will be very clear. Though it's clearly too soon to tell, he explained, whether this new distribution generates new revenue for the companies involved will be the deciding factor for success.

What is also telling about this new consortia are the identities of two of the major sponsors for UnitedLinux: IBM and Hewlett-Packard.

"This is advantageous for IBM because they want to leverage Linux for their own growth," said Stacey Quandt, an Industry Analyst from the Giga Information Group. As they attract more enterprise-level customers to Linux, IBM is also trying to make sure that there is more than one Linux game in town. By sponsoring UnitedLinux, IBM immediately gains the advantage of having another distribution besides Red Hat to deal with, Quandt explained.

"Consortiums succeed or fail based on an external threat," Quandt said. Clearly, IBM, HP, and the rest of the companies involved with United Linux perceive Red Hat as that threat, she added.

While the ability for IBM to pull in major ISVs may look good on paper, Quandt expressed some concerns on how this would actually work.

"Can [IBM] pull in Siebel? I think this unlikely," she opined, indicating that Siebel may feel that it is already deployed on enough platforms already. Other ISVs, such as Oracle and Veritas, have very close ties to Sun Microsystems, which some industry analysts feel is well on it's way to creating a distribution of it's own. If that were the case, then Oracle and Veritas would very likely work exclusively with Sun's Linux.

This, Quandt said, could leave UnitedLinux and its enterprise customers without a robust application base to work with.

Still, any participants in the UnitedLinux consortium could benefit from having another Linux distribution to work with besides Red Hat and any potential version of Linux from Sun. IBM, for example, could have certain features pushed through United Linux much faster than they would through Red Hat or Sun, Quandt speculated.

Executives from Red Hat declined to comment before this official announcement, but indications are they will have something to say very soon.

In one sense, Red Hat's response may be already in the works. An announcement is expected next week from Red Hat, Dell, and Oracle regarding an enterprise-level project known right now as "Unbreakable Linux."

How the other distributions will react to this squaring off remains to be seen, but one thing is clear: the enterprise market is now the golden key for Linux industry leaders. And as new alliances are forged, the players in the Linux industry are about to be changed, perhaps forever.

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