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Progeny Makes a Love Match

Towards Another Unified Linux

  • November 13, 2003
  • By Brian Proffitt

These are, without doubt, some of the most interesting times the Linux community has ever experienced. Lawsuits, acquisitions, corporate policy shifts... each new day seems to bring twists and turns seemingly designed to drive Linux users crazy.

It is into this maelstrom that a familiar face to Linux has stepped--a face that brings experience and a little controversy of his own.

Ransom Love has been named to the board of directors of Progeny, the Linux company founded by Debian creator Ian Murdock. This is a piece of news that might have had more reaction had it been announced during a quieter period of time.

But it is because of these events that Love and Murdock, who is Progeny's Chairman and Chief Strategist, feel that the time is right for Love's return to Linux after his departure from The SCO Group in June 2002.

Specifically, Murdock cited two events that he feels sets the stage for the implementation of Progeny's future plans. First, the recent announcement by Red Hat of their shift in focus to the enterprise and what Murdock calls "the abandonment of consumer desktop" leaves a very large space for companies like Progeny, which focuses on custom platform and solutions work, to move into.

With the move to the enterprise, Red Hat leaves behind not just the consumer and hobbyist users, but also support for organizations that rely on Red Hat Linux as the basis for their own operating systems, particularly in the embedded space. Progeny has already made plans to move into this arena, and will likely continue to now that Love is on board.

The other event that Progeny will be keying to is the acquisition of SUSE by Novell. Murdock perceives Novell as primarily a platform company and sees them using Linux as a part of overall solutions they'll provide to their customers. He also envisions Novell moving towards a more standards-based approach to Linux--something that Progeny can definitely relate to.

Progeny's philosophy falls right in line with that approach, and Love seems invested in what Progeny wants to do. Progeny's solution deliveries tend to use Debian-based software, which Love believes there is plenty of room for in the market.

Both Love and Murdock have hinted that there may also be room for a unified Linux platform again, along the lines of UnitedLinux. Murdock has made no secret of his admiration of the UnitedLinux ideal but not its implementation.

The main problem with the commercialization of Linux, Murdock feels, is the fact that until now the commercial participants haven't properly brought the community along in their commercialization plans.

"UnitedLinux was not implemented properly," Murdock said, "there was no community involvement."

And community involvement is something that Progeny would promote if they were to push a unified platform similar to UnitedLinux. This is an idea that Progeny is actively pursuing, and it is one of the big reasons they approached Love to be on their board in the first place. Love's work in starting UnitedLinux was a concept that Murdock and Progeny President and CEO Garth Dickey were very intrigued with.

And Love's involvement will not be as a figurehead. Already Love is actively involving himself in Progeny, having traveled to the company's Indianapolis offices yesterday for meetings with company employees.

"I'd like to be as much a part of the organization as they'll let me be," Love said.

Love agrees with Murdock's assessment that "this is a good time to step back in" to Linux. There may be some karmic feelings involved in the return as well, given his past leadership of The SCO Group.

"The company I helped create is doing all of this to the Linux community," Love explained, "I'd like to step back in and calm the waters."

Of course, there's a lot of satisfaction for Love in how Linux is shaping up as a commercial entity. When he was at Novell nine years ago, he said, he was pushing to get Novell involved in Linux even back then.

"Now they are Linux," he laughed. "I feel totally vindicated."

Of course, Love is not insensitive to the fact that some in the Linux community are less than thrilled with some of his past statements. He related that while he knows some will always disagree with him, he hopes that people will know that he has always had the highest enthusiasm for Linux and wants to work with Progeny to help improve Linux more.

"A unified, commercial, broadly accepted Linux platform is about to be a reality and Progeny's in a good position to help bring that about."

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