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The UnitedLinux Dark Horse: Conectiva - page 3

Who Are They, And What Do They Bring to the Table?

  • June 24, 2002
  • By Dee-Ann LeBlanc

Neither people nor businesses tend to get involved with one another unless there's something to gain—even if that something is just a nice feeling. In Conectiva's case, there are a number of things that the company expects will come from its involvement in UnitedLinux.

One of the main benefits is cost sharing. Every Linux distribution has a selection of base packages that make up its core, and this collection really doesn't change much from distro to distro. Rather than spending a significant amount of time and money maintaining and building upon these basics just for its own distribution, Conectiva looks forward to sharing the workload on this front, as these base packages will then go into both UnitedLinux and Conectiva's own distribution—which will improve software vendors' ability to ensure that their programs interact properly with a wider range of Linux distros.

UnitedLinux will also help Conectiva with a serious recognition problem it's been having. Many software vendors haven't been bothering to test their products with Conectiva, so there are few cases of this distribution being listed as one of those certified to run a particular package properly. Without these certifications, there are many Brazilian and Latin American clients that remain out of Conectiva's reach, specifically those who have headquarters in the United States or Europe and dictate their foreign offices' software usage.

There's also the lucrative issue of support. As many people know, in the Linux and open source economies it's the support contracts that drive a project's finances. By joining UnitedLinux, Conectiva becomes the project's support arm in Latin America, which bodes well for both of these companies and local consumers. Many people prefer solutions that offer local support, especially when they get tired of having to explain specifics regarding their region to vendors who know little to nothing about it. Ensuring that UnitedLinux users have actual Latin American support should bode well for adoption of this new business offering.

Conectiva certainly holds its own amongst its UnitedLinux partners. How this project will ultimately fare is anyone's guess, but in general the software development community certainly won't mind having such a large target to build for, and there's a chance that this effort will make life much nicer for the large non-English speaking Linux market. It's rare to be able to report on corporate projects that benefit the consumer as much as they benefit the companies involved, but this just might be one of them.

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