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Progeny Evolves Beyond Distribution Model - page 2

The Reports of Progeny's Demise...

  • October 17, 2002
  • By Brian Proffitt

One thing that quickly shows up in conversation with Murdock is his belief that eventually companies will find a way to make money from Linux, for the simple reason of all the sheer interest in the free software kernel and the operating system that surrounds it.

The major distributions, thus far, are generating revenue by using the old tried-and-true method of boxing up Linux and selling it as a product, coupled with the commoditizing of service and support to customers. And the model is working pretty well, as demonstrated by the successes of Red Hat, SuSE, and MandrakeSoft.

But the boxing and shipping of Linux as a product, Murdock believes, is based on an older model of getting revenue from software. And, he maintains, it is not the only way revenue can be created--even from free software such as Linux.

Instead, Murdock said, Progeny will go past the older distribution model and offer Linux to customers as a solid platform for them to build their own products.

"Distribution is unimportant," he said, "what's important is the platform and Linux is the platform."

Murdock likens the distribution model to a giant ecosystem, held together by the GPL and open source philosophies--a fairly succcessful ecosystem that feeds off itself. This, he indicated, is one of Linux's greatest strengths.

But this model also leads to one of Linux's greatest weaknesses. All distributions lie within a big circle called Linux, but in order to differentiate themselves from the other distros, companies like Red Hat and the members of the UnitedLinux consortium are pushing themselves to opposite edges of the circle, staying as far from each other as they can.

Within this differentiation, there can be real incompatabilities between distros. For instance, if one distro carries an API that the others don't, then there will be applications that will (at least unassisted) run on one distro and not another.

Murdock, like all active members of the Linux community, recognizes that because of the GPL, Linux will never truly fragment the way UNIX did. But, he emphasized, without strict adherence to standards, there might be perceived fragmentation at the application level.

Corporations are already seeing this problem from the distributions, which is why they are requesting "pure" Linux more and more.

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