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Linux and business

Oracle has announced partnerships with four Linux vendors: Red Hat, VA Research, Pacific HiTech, and S.u.S.E.. It is not entirely clear, at this point, just what that partnership entails. At a minimum, the Linux vendors all have little Oracle buttons on their sites now, and they will be reselling the Oracle product once it becomes available (later this year). Some sort of marketing effort on Oracle's part is another possibility.

Oracle has also set up a Linux early adopter program. Linux users who register on the Oracle Technology Network site before September 15 will get a free advance version of Oracle8. The license agreement for this release is pretty strict - no production use, good only for two months - but it still should be fun to play with. Presumably the two month limitation will be enforced within the software. LWN has signed up for a copy, watch this space for our impressions once it shows up.

If you want to read what the press is saying, start with the Oracle press release. There are several articles out there at press time, but most seem to be heavily drawn from the press release. They are:

There is also a rather cynical article in The Industry Standard which claims that Oracle's recent Linux moves are just a "thumbing the nose" action against Microsoft. "Oracle is jumping on the 'anti-Microsoft bandwagon' and is not going to put a lot of money into this venture, Oltsik added, saying that adding Linux support is not a difficult move for Oracle to make." (Found in OS News).

The folks from Digital Networks U.K. wrote in to inform us that the United Kingdom has a new Linux VAR. You can check them out at their web site. It's good to see some VAR's get going outside of the U.S. Patronizing them can be a good idea; these people are taking risks to support the Linux market, and they need to get well established before the large PC vendors catch on. Plus, it can be awfully nice to have a system which runs Linux right out of the box.

Speaking of large vendors, it turns out that Dell has been selling Linux-installed systems to a few customers for a year now. More info can be found in this article in Inter@active Week. They seem to be doing it mostly for their larger customers, and there is mention of a $250 installation fee. Given that this has been going on for a year, it is interesting to recall that, back in April, a Dell spokesman said "I haven't been able to find any examples of customers requesting Linux". (See this old ZDNet article for the quote, toward the end). Given that they were already selling Linux-installed systems at that time, why did they deny the existence of customer demand?

Here's another attempt to make money in the free software world: John Ousterhout's "Scriptics, Inc." has launched a commercial TCL development suite. $1000 will get you a graphical debugger and a script checking tool. See this Inter@ctive Week article for more info.

Press Releases:

  • Debian announced its plan for a presence at this year's Atlanta Linux Showcase.
  • Personal Productivity Tools, Inc.. Their "EtherPage" messaging system runs under Linux.
  • Red Hat, never one to let a press release opportunity go by, crows about its latest "Editor's Choice" award.
  • O'Reilly heralded the 500,000th print of Unix in a Nutshell
  • Applix, released ApplixWare 4.4.1 for Linux. (See also their Linux ApplixWare site).

  • This last a press release is too amusing to pass up. Seems that the "Timpanogas Research Group, Inc." is looking for investors so that they can "complete development and product launch for its VNDI (Virtual Network Disk Interface) Technology," which will be available under Linux. They had $2M in initial capital, but blew $1.4M of it in litigation against Novell. All is not bad, however: "On the positive side, due to the litigation costs, TRG posted a tax credit of $1.6 million dollars for FY97 returns that the company can carry forward and credit against future sales of its products." They're looking for another $2M...

September 10, 1998


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