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See also: last week's Commerce page.

Linux and business

Acquisitions and consolidation appear to be the theme of the week. Expect to see many more of these in the near future. Post-IPO companies have a strong need to put their high-priced stock to work and grow. And even pre-IPO companies can make use of their presumed future value and bulk up to look better before that S-1 filing - look, for example, at Linuxcare's pre-IPO acquisitions.

Linux has changed business in interesting ways, but "bigger is better" appears to have survived unchanged. As long as advantages are seen in greater size, companies will continue to merge and acquire. It's worth remembering that most of the companies in the Linux sphere are still small by the usual standards.

Anyway, this week's acquisitions include:

  • VA Linux Systems' high-profile purchase of Andover.net. The deal values Andover shares at 0.425 VA's, or roughly $50/share. VA claims that the deal will give it "nearly two-thirds of the total traffic of major Open Source sites" - a substantial bit of traffic.

    Conversations on the LinuxWorld floor after the announcement revealed a certain amount of confusion. It's not clear to many people that VA and Andover make a good match. Andover's sites are now placed in a position of perceived conflict of interest - a problem even if nothing actually changes in their reporting. VA gets a network of sites that does little to enhance its core business, and which puts it into the web advertising business as well.

    Larry Augustin, VA's CEO, described Slashdot as "the town hall of the open source community," and seems to view it as a good complement to VA's other community-oriented sites. We will see, over time, how well this mixture works out in practice. (See also: the open letter by Larry Augustin and Bruce Twickler published in Slashdot, and VA's press release on the acquisition).

  • Atipa has announced the acquisition of Enhanced Software Technologies, the makers of the BRU backup utility. Atipa is the Linux box vendor whose logo seemed to be everywhere at LinuxWorld - to the point that some surmised they had hired a couple of taggers from the New York streets. They also are the sponsors of Dave Whitinger's Linsight project.

    The emerging picture here is of a Linux hardware company that is trying to branch out into other areas - much like VA before it. With the EST acquisition, Atipa has become a provider of commercial Linux software as well (no mention has been made of open-sourcing BRU). Backup software is an important component of enterprise systems, and enterprises are the pot of gold that all Linux companies seem to be after.

  • Corel jumped in on Monday with its announcement of a merger with Inprise/Borland. At first glance, this looks like a good match. Corel and Inprise both have strong development capabilities, but focused in different areas. Corel's desktop applications will likely do very well in the Linux market - once they finally find their way to market. And Corel's Linux distribution appears to already be a success. Inprise, instead, works in the development area - C++, Java, Delphi, Interbase, etc.

    Corel's strategy thus far in the Linux world has been to push solidly for the desktop - an approach that is quite different from Red Hat's server-centric and Caldera's "e-Business" models. The Inprise acquisition would seemingly prepare Corel to push back into the back-end server side as well.

    Both companies also pointed out, during their press conference, that they do substantial business in the Windows world. Given that their products work with both Windows and Linux, they see themselves as ideally positioned to help Windows users transition over to Linux. Migration from Windows will only become more important if Linux is to continue to grow; companies that can help that process may find themselves in a good position.

  • LinuxMall.com and Frank Kaspar and Associates have announced a merger as well. LinuxMall.com has been at the top of the retail side of Linux almost since the very beginning; Kaspar, instead, is one of the largest distribution channels. Together they will control much of the process of getting Linux into the hands of end users. Getting a better handle on the distribution side was probably crucial for LinuxMall.com; if your business is delivery of the goods you are better off controlling more of the process.
Anybody wandering the LinuxWorld floor could easily pick out a large list of future acquisition candidates. The consolidation in the Linux business arena is not likely to slow down anytime soon.

The Linux Fund on the IPO path The Linux Fund has announced that it will do an initial public offering of its stock soon. The IPO will be run as a self-underwritten dutch auction via MainStreetIPO.com. No actual IPO registration has been done at this time, so the IPO is a little ways off yet.

The Linux Fund is a venture capital operation which seeks to invest in startup Linux companies. Perhaps their highest-profile investment is in HelixCode, the company created by Miguel de Icaza and Nat Friedman. They claim to have another six (unnamed) companies in their portfolio, and to be in negotiations with yet another six.

The Fund is also collaborating with MainStreetIPO.com to create Linux-IPO.com, described on this page. Linux-IPO.com sets out to exactly what the Linux Fund is doing - create open-access initial public offerings on the net. It looks a lot like the OpenIPO process that Andover.Net used, but with an emphasis on Linux companies only. It is perhaps fitting that the Linux Fund would go through its own process before offering it to others.

TUCOWS forms the Open Development Advisory Council. TUCOWS.com Inc. has announced the formation of the Open Development Advisory Council (ODAC) to examine economic models for open-source software programs. Members of the council include Dave Whitinger and Red Hat's Howard Jacobson.

OpenSales ships alpha release. OpenSales has announced that an alpha version of its OpenMerchant e-commerce system is available. It handles order and inventory management, and many other things; the system is written in Perl and has an open source license. A beta release is expected later this month.

Meanwhile, it's already shipping, even in alpha form. TurboLinux has announced that OpenMerchant will be bundled with its "TurboLinux server 6.0" release.

Ucentric Systems announces financing round. Ucentric Systems has announced the receipt of $10 million in financing from Polaris Venture Partners. Ucentric is developing what appears to be a Linux-based server for household "home area network" applications. If this company succeeds, Linux may soon be the glue that ties together your refrigerator, toaster, and television...

eOn Communications announces IPO. eOn Communications, a maker of Linux-based server systems, has announced its initial public offering of stock. The offering went out at $12 on Friday, February 4, and closed at $23. We'll be considering this one for the LWN Linux Stocks Page once the price has settled down a bit.

Tarantella announcements from SCO. SCO made several announcements about their Tarantella web-enabling serverware for leading Linux platforms.

Section Editor: Jon Corbet.

Press Releases:

    Open Souce Products:

  • Hewlett-Packard Company announced that it will offer hardware-accelerated OpenGL on HP VISUALIZE fx+ graphics and that it plans to release the company's large model-rendering toolkit to the open-source community.

  • Here's a press release from IBM, listing its recent Linux moves. These include its ViaVoice voice recognition system, the contribution of the JFS journaling file system, the availability of a NetObjects TopPage beta, and its Network Station products running Linux. IBM is also distributing an application developer's kit via Caldera Systems.

    Commercial Products for Linux:

  • ACCPAC International, Inc. announced that it has released an e-business and accounting solution for Red Hat Linux.

  • Alpha Processor, Inc. introduced its Alpha Linux Developer's Program. This initiative offers developers of Linux software and hardware the opportunity to qualify for discounted UP1000 Alpha-based development workstations.

  • Advanced Visual Systems Inc. announced the release of Linux versions of AVS/Express and OpenViz technologies.

  • Computone Corporation is shipping its new line of high performance Gold Card RS-232 serial PCI controllers with Linux device drivers.

  • Corel Corporation announced plans to preview Corel PHOTO-PAINT for Linux and CorelDRAW for Linux at Seybold Seminars in Boston.

  • Enhanced Software Technologies, Inc. launched its new Web site that lists Linux-compatible tape devices by manufacturer and model.

  • Enhanced Software Technologies, Inc. and Hewlett-Packard Company announced that HP's SureStore DAT/DDS and DLT tape drives are now certified to run under the Linux operating system.

  • IBM announced a new thin client computer and voice recognition software for Linux, as well as new contributions to open source development.

  • IDG Books announced the expansion of its "Linux for Dummies" book series into nine languages, and the addition of new titles (including "Linux Programming for Dummies" and "Slackware Linux for Dummies").

  • IDG Books has also added three new titles to its Red Hat Linux series.

  • IEA Software, Inc. announced the availability of RadiusX software for dial-up authentication, authorization and accounting for ISP's running on Cobalt Networks' server appliances.

  • Integratus, Inc. announced the introduction of a Linux version of its landmark Universal High Availability (UHA) application software.

  • Magic Software Enterprises announced Magic Enterprise Edition V.8 development environment for Linux.

  • MathSoft, Inc. introduced S-PLUS, a new academic site licensing program.

  • MTI Technology Corp. announced that its Vivant storage solutions are now supported on the Linux operating system.

  • Newlix Corporation announced its Newlix Omega VPN Server.

  • Rebel.com Inc. announced that the NetWinder product line is now available from TheLinuxStore.com.

  • Rogue Wave Software announced two new products, XML-DB Link and XML-CORBA Link (XORBA).

  • SGI announced several additions to its growing portfolio of Linux operating system offerings, including the introduction of a new SGI Internet server, SGI Advanced Clustering Environment and global Linux services.

  • Zortec International has announced that their fourth generation language, System Z, is now supported on Linux, good for people wanting to move over older applications.

    Products Using Linux:

  • Patmos International announced the Perpetua, a Linux-based supercomputer.

    Java Products:

  • Novell, Inc. announced the availability of eGuide.

  • Persistence Software announced that it is porting PowerTier for Enterprise JavaBeans (EJB) to the Linux operating system.

  • SoftBase Systems, Inc. announced the release of NetLert 2.0, the latest version of its instant messaging software for corporations and call centers.

    Products with Linux Versions:

  • Addonics Technologies announced an Internet sharing device for Ethernet networks that allows multiple users to simultaneously connect to the Internet over a single DSL or Cable Modem, using one Internet account.

  • Apogee Networks, Inc. announced a high-value solution for capturing and utilizing information from Cisco NetFlow-enabled devices.

  • Applix, Inc. launched a free trial program for their Applixware Office product for customers of IBM's Network Station Series 2200 and 2800 thin client solutions.

  • Asante Technologies, Inc. announced a new Gigabit Ethernet over copper solution for workgroups.

  • Computer Associates International, Inc. announced Ingres II Linux Edition, a Linux-compatible version of CA's high-performance, enterprise-class relational database management system.

  • Computer Associates International, Inc. announced that it has extended the functionality of its comprehensive eTrust Access Control for Unix solution to support Red Hat Linux.

  • DataMirror Corporation announced the availability of Transformation Server for OS/390 V4.2.

  • DataMirror Corporation announced a special pricing promotion on its High Availability Suite for IBM AS/400 in conjunction with IBM's High Availability Rebate Promotion.

  • Ensim Corporation announced that ServerXchange, a comprehensive service deployment platform, is now available in Europe.

  • Entera, Inc. unveiled its TeraCAST Streaming Server family.

  • Etnus has started shipping TotalView 4.0, a parallel debugger.

  • Generix announced VSI Fax version 4.0.

  • GraphOn Corporation announced it will release OEM beta versions of its web-enabling software Bridges for UNIX and Linux.

  • Kasenna, Inc. announced a broadband media platform for Linux.

  • Mentor Graphics Corporation announced the availability of IC Station StreamView, a high performance, high capacity physical layout database visualization and debugging tool.

  • Merlin Software Technologies announced PerfectBACKUP+ 6.2 for for all major versions of Linux.

  • MP3.com, Inc. released a Linux client version of Beam-it, its proprietary software that allows consumers to store their CDs on My.MP3.com.

  • NetDIVE announced SiteSticky 4.0.

  • OnStream announced its new ADR50 Digital Tape Drive.

  • ThinkFree.com unveiled ThinkFree Office, a new Web-based productivity suite, available free to consumers.

    Partnerships, Investments and Acquisitions:

  • 1mage Software, Inc. announced the signing of an international reseller agreement with Black Tusk Technologies CC, located in Parkhurst, South Africa. Under the agreement, Black Tusk will license 1MAGE products in South Africa, primarily on the Linux platform.

  • 4Front Technologies, Inc. announced that it has become a US service partner of Red Hat.

  • ApplianceWare Inc., maker's of an intelligent server appliance software layer that runs on top of Linux, announced a strategic alliance with Kerbango. See also this press release about Kerbango's upcoming internet radio.

  • Birdstep Technology AS, developer of Ultra Small Footprint database technology, has signed a Developer Partner Agreement with Red Hat Inc. to port its patented data management software to Red Hat Linux 6.1.

  • Red Hat, TheLinuxStore.com and TurboLinux have signed up to become " Premier Sponsors" for the CNET Linux Center.

  • Cobalt Networks, Inc. and Chili!Soft announced a strategic OEM partnership.

  • eSoft Inc. announced the signature of a multi-country distribution agreement with ACA Pacific Technology (Singapore) Pte Ltd. and the expansion of its Asian operations with the opening of their Asia/Pacific regional headquarters in Singapore.

  • GoAhead Software announced that MontaVista Software Inc. is shipping GoAhead WebServer with Hard Hat Linux.

  • Hewlett-Packard Company and Loudcloud, Inc. announced that they are working together to help high-growth Internet businesses get to market faster and scale to meet their customer needs.

  • Hummingbird Communications Ltd. announced that the Hummingbird EIP (Enterprise Information Portal) core engine will be included in SuSE's Linux distribution.

  • Hyperion announced the signing of a developer partner agreement with Red Hat Software, Inc., under which Hyperion will deliver a new version of Hyperion Essbase OLAP Server optimized for Red Hat Linux.

  • Insignia Solutions and MontaVista Software Inc. have reached an agreement for MontaVista to distribute the Jeode platform to its embedded Linux customers.

  • Linuxcare has announced a deal wherein it will provide back-end support for Hewlett-Packard.

  • Maxspeed Corp. announced platinum sponsorship support for Linux Professional Institute (LPI).

  • Merlin Software Technologies announced the signing of an ISV Business Partner Agreement with Caldera Systems Inc.

  • Rebel.com and JetNet have announced the "Business E-Connector" product. It appears to be a combination of a Netwinder and dedicated ISP service.

  • Red Hat appointed UniDirect, as one of its official channel distributors.

  • SGI announced that IBM's DB2 Universal Database is now available on all Linux-based SGI 1000 series servers.

  • TradeMark Computers announced a deal with Red Hat, Inc. to provide Certified Systems to resellers, OEMs and system integrators.

  • Ucentric Systems announced the completion of a $10 million first round of venture capital from Polaris Venture Partners. Ucentric will use the proceeds to continue development of its home server product, comprised of Ucentric-developed software atop a Linux OS and standard hardware.

  • Wave Technologies International, Inc. has teamed with Sylvan Prometric to launch the Sair Linux and GNU certification.


  • Corel Corporation announced that its Linux Professional Services Program is now in place.

  • IBM announced a program, with free developer kit, for small Linux-based businesses. Distributed by IBM and Caldera Systems, Inc., each kit includes messaging, collaboration and dynamic web application serving capabilities, and more.

  • According to this CNet article, Infostrada Communications, publisher of the Linux Magazine, picked up the Linux.net domain.

  • Red Hat, Inc. announced an offering of 4,000,000 shares, priced at $95.00 per share.

  • Administrators at Training Pages have identified a change in the pattern of demand for IT training. Today the word "Linux" appeared on the site's real-time graph of its most popular keyword searches at the same time as no Microsft-related word (e.g. "MCSE", "Microsoft", etc) was listed at all.

  • TUCOWS.com Inc. has announced the formation of the Open Development Advisory Council (ODAC) to examine economic models for open-source software programs.

Section Editor: Rebecca Sobol.

February 10, 2000


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