TheKompany.com: A New Approach to Linux Business
The Building Blocks for Linux
One day early this year, a message was posted on the KDE developers mailing list by a fellow named Shawn Gordon. He had a proposition: He would hire some people to work on some parts of KOffice, and in return he wanted--nothing.
Gordon is not a wealthy philanthropist flinging money toward projects where he believes it might do some good. Instead, he's a programmer who, after decades working for big corporate computer departments, decided a little over a year ago to produce some tools that would make Linux more useful in the corporate environment--things like a multilanguage Integrated Development Environment that would let programmers write in whatever language they knew, but generate code in other languages.
For his product to succeed, though, there would need to be widespread acceptance of Linux in corporations, and that extended to easily-used, powerful desktop applications. Surveying the scene, he decided that KDE was likely to find its way onto corporate desktops.
And so began a series of projects. Most are open source, free software. But in addition, Gordon and his company, theKompany.com, are producing specialized development tools that, while typically Linux-based, will work on multiple platforms and will be sold to businesses.
This hybrid--producing open-source software, helping with existing projects, and working on proprietary projects, too--is a thin wire to walk, but Gordon says it's working.
"We're trying to build something professional and not piss people off," he said in a recent interview from his California headquarters. The first part of the plan was to round up the available Linux development tools and offer a distribution aimed at developers. The result was a product called PowerPlant.
"We essentially hit on an idea that we would go around and get all these languages, IDEs, libraries, different tools for developing applications on Linux, and put together what we're calling a second-tier distribution, though it's actually complementary to any RPM or DEB-based system. We ended up with three CDs of our stuff and one CD of demo games from Loki. And while the license has changed [MySQL recently went GPL], you still get a full commercial license for MySQL with PowerPlant. There are about 150 different types of applications. It's like a Linux distribution in the sense that we're selling the convenience." It doesn't include Linux itself, though. "We thought, why compete with everybody? There really isn't a reason to, since all we want to do is make a distribution for developers."
PowerPlant was released this summer, but theKompany.com already had other irons in the fire. And woods. And the putter.
At the moment, theKompany.com is working on a world of projects, including:
- Kugar, a business report generator.
- Kivio, a high-powered flowchart application.
- Krayon, an enhanced and completed version of KImage Shop.
- Magellan, the long-awaited KDE/QT answer to Outlook.
- Python bindings for KDE and QT.
- A multi-platform Python IDE.
- KDB, a database development system for KDE.
. . . and others.