BSD and FreeBSD: When Two Become One

LONDON (03/10/2000) - Two of the largest developers and suppliers of the Unix-like Berkeley Software Distribution (BSD) operating system have merged.

Berkeley Software Design Inc. (BSDI), distributor of the BSD/OS operating system announced today that it has merged with Walnut Creek CDROM, distributor of the FreeBSD operating system.

The merged company, which will retain the BSDI name, plans to form a united front for the operating systems, and will continue to deliver and support both BSD/OS and FreeBSD, BSDI said in a statement.

Financial details of the deal were not available, although BSDI did say that Yahoo Inc. also will take an equity interest in the new company.

The BSD operating system, which was developed between 1979 and 1992 by the Computer Systems Research Group at the University of California at Berkeley, makes up the core of most Unix and Unix-based operating systems, including Linux.

BSD use is especially important and widespread throughout the infrastructure of the Internet, with Web servers of companies including Yahoo Inc., Microsoft Corp.'s Hotmail, and MCI WorldCom Inc.'s UUNet relying on the operating system, BSDI said in its statement.

It is also used as the embedded operating system on Internet appliances from Intel Corp., IBM Corp., Lucent Technologies Inc. and Hitachi Ltd. among others, according to the statement.

The new company will continue to offer commercially-supported BSD operating systems and applications, as well as continuing to develop and distribute both BSD/OS and FreeBSD under the Berkeley software license, which encourages development for open source projects, but stops short of being completely open source.

The new company will provide the open-source FreeBSD project with support, marketing and funding, as well as providing it with some of the technical innovations of the BSD/OS, BSDI said. The company is also looking into completely merging the two code bases, according to the statement.

Walnut Creek's Linux distribution, Slackware, will be spun off and become a separate company, called Slackware Linux Inc., according to information from its Web site.

BSDI, in Colorado Springs, Colorado, can be reached at +1 719 457 8400, or on the Web at http://www.bsdi.com/. Walnut Creek CDROM, in Concord, California, is at +1 925 674-0821, or at http://www.wccdrom.com/. Slackware Linux is at http://www.slackware.com/.

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