UnitedLinux ready for testers

The first test release of a version of Linux being developed by a quartet of vendors, known as UnitedLinux, will reach developers by the end of the month.

Caldera International Inc., SuSE Linux AG, TurboLinux Inc. and Conectiva SA will release in late August a beta version of the UnitedLinux server operating system to select ISVs (independent software vendors) and other industry partners. A beta will be widely available to the public in September, executives from participating vendors said Tuesday.

The four companies detailed the progress of their joint development, which was first announced in May, during a press conference Tuesday at the LinuxWorld Conference and Expo here.

Launched partly as an effort to unseat Linux maker Red Hat Inc. from its perch as the number one seller of Linux server software, UnitedLinux combines technology from each of the four vendors into a single distribution.

"We think people really want a couple of strong players at the top of this industry," Darl McBride, president and chief executive officer of Caldera, in Lindon, Utah, said in an interview. "They don't just want one big player."

UnitedLinux has yet to win any specific application support, though a number of vendors including Intel Corp., Hewlett-Packard Co. and Fujitsu Ltd. have spoken out in support of the operating system.

UnitedLinux aims to fill the void of a close number two Linux vendor. Each of the four vendors involved in the effort will sell the software through their own sales and marketing channels, with a common "Powered by UnitedLinux" logo.

The group said it has the market reach to make UnitedLinux a top selling operating system. SuSE, in Nuremberg, Germany, is focused on large enterprise companies, and has close ties to IBM Corp. Caldera focuses on small- and medium-sized business customers; TurboLinux, in Brisbane, California, has a strong presence in Asia, and Conectiva, in Curitiba, Brazil, touches markets throughout Latin America.

Moving forward, UnitedLinux is looking to win new distribution partners to adopt the operating system. Any new partners that come on board will be required to pay membership fees to UnitedLinux, which will go toward marketing and development costs, the group said.

When it reaches its final release, expected in the fourth quarter of 2002, UnitedLinux Version 1.0 will be compliant with the LSB (Linux Standards Base), a set of technical requirements managed by the Free Software Group, the group said.

On Wednesday, nine Linux vendors are expected to announce support for LSB 1.2, the latest version of the standards specification. Other companies to support LSB 1.2 include Red Hat Inc., the leading Linux vendor, and Sun Microsystems Inc., which unveiled its own version of Linux this week at LinuxWorld.

UnitedLinux will also have broad support for languages, including Japanese, simplified and traditional Chinese, Korean, Portuguese and Hungarian.

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