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First Look: UnitedLinux Open Beta is Here - page 2

Behind the Scenes at UnitedLinux

  • September 27, 2002
  • By Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols

What UnitedLinux is trying to do is to standardize as much as Linux as they can--file directory conventions, command options, installation routines and high-end options like clustering and shared memory multiprocessing (SMP)--so that an end-user can buy a UnitedLinux branded distribution and be certain that it and UnitedLinux branded applications will run on their architecture and run UnitedLinux, though, was never just for network administrators. It's also for business Independent Software Vendors (ISV)s, like Oracle, PeopleSoft and SAP and the major hardware original equipment manufacturers (OEM)s, like HP and IBM.

By giving them a common business platform, the four UnitedLinux companies hope to move out of the popular, but low revenue, Linux server business of Web site hosting and file/print servers into application servers and the enterprise. As such, it is not targeted, as many would have it, against Debian, Mandrake, or even most of Red Hat's offering.

Instead, UnitedLinuxs real competitiors are the big name Unixes--AIX, HP-UX and Solaris; Windows 2000 Advanced Server, and Windows .NET. The only Linux it will be competiting with is Red Hat's Red Hat Advanced Server (RHAS).

UnitedLinux 1.0 is not a completely new Linux distribution. Instead, it's based on SuSE Linux Enterprise Server (SLES, http://www.suse.com/us/business/products/sles/index.html). It has, however, been updated to the 2.4.19 kernel. While the first version of UnitedLinux will only be available on 32-bit Intel platforms, it will also soon come out in versions for the Itanium-2 chip--presumably for HPs Itanium server family--and other x86 32 and 64-bit architectures and for IBMs pSeries (RS/6000), iSeries (AS/400) and the zSeries (mainframe).

While SuSE developers are taking the lead in developing UnitedLinux, they're not doing it on their own. Even before UnitedLinux was announced on May 30, SCO, then Caldera, according to Ransom Love, former Caldera CEO, was transferring its Linux development team to SuSE to start work on UnitedLinux. Today, SCO's main contribution to UnitedLinux development is financial support.

That is also the case with Turbolinux and Conectiva. Turbolinux did contribute technology from its Turbolinux Cluster Server product. And, Turbolinux, as it moves away from the American market and focuses almost all its attention on the Chinese, Korean, and Japanese markets continues to contribute language support. Conectiva's main technical contribution has been to the Spanish and Portuguese versions of UnitedLinux.

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