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Linux and business

Comdex brought out a number of announcements this week, but perhaps the most interesting were the new enterprise support programs for Linux. Two different vendors have made announcements:
  • S.u.S.E. announced a support program to begin in North America in "early 1999." There will be two support modes: an entirely in-house program, and support offered through outside partners (such as LinuxCare. Internal support will include a 24x7 program.

  • Red Hat's announcement also features 24x7 support, along with the ability to buy technical support on an annual or "10 incident pack" basis. They have also added a couple of new versions of their distribution, both aimed at resellers, and one of which includes 90 days of support as part of the deal.
Thus the claim that "Linux has no support" is increasingly, well, unsupportable. No doubt the pundits will still claim that Red Hat and S.u.S.E. are insufficiently large to placate worried executives, but such claims are increasingly hollow. The real question, of course, will be what the quality of support provided by S.u.S.E. and Red Hat ends up being. The current installation support supplied by some distribution vendors has certainly left a number of people unsatisfied. "As good as Microsoft" will not cut it; Linux comes with higher expectations. Let us hope that the vendors will be able to meet those expectations.

In previous weeks we have mentioned the Linux business breakfast that was held in Melbourne, Australia, on November 17th. Here now is their report on how it went. They got an attendance larger than they had hoped for, and managed to engage in some serious and effective Linux advocacy. This breakfast should be looked at as a model of how similar events could be held elsewhere. Congratulations are in order.

The "NewHoo" web directory has been purchased by Netscape; henceforth it will be known as directory.mozilla.org. NewHoo, which first hit the scene as "GnuHoo," is an attempt to build an alternative to Yahoo using volunteer editors on the net. They immediately came under a great deal of criticism, mostly because their directory database, so nicely created by a volunteer community, would be under the proprietary ownership of the GnuHoo folks. This bit of non-openness eventually led to them dropping the "Gnu" from their name, and, presumably, led to a "lower than it could be" level of enthusiasm among their volunteer community.

This message, sent to their editors, describes how NewHoo will work under the Mozilla umbrella. The most significant change is that the directory will be made available under a "free use license." Proprietary no longer, NewHoo can now become a true open community effort, and it may yet achieve its ambitious goals. As the net gets larger, closed efforts like Yahoo have an increasingly hard time keeping up. In the end, an distributed community effort like NewHoo may well prove to be the only way of creating a truly comprehensive directory of the web.

VA Research has received a venture capital investment from Sequoia Capital. This investment should help VA Research, arguably already the premier Linux systems VAR, take a place at the head of the pack. The amount of this investment, and just what VA will do with it, has not been disclosed; the press release is pretty vague.

LinuxWorld ran a review of Oracle8 for Linux, check it out here. "Oracle8 for Linux is a bit bare-bones right now, but Oracle promises enhancements are on the way."

Press Releases:

  • Planet Computer announced Linux support for PlanetUpLink
  • Compatible Systems announced two new VPN switches
  • Compatible Systems also announced an eight-slot version of its VPN Access Server
  • Red Hat, hiring Matthew Szulik as their company president.
  • Corel, Word Perfect Office 2000.
  • GraphOn, Linux support for their "thin X" products.
  • Rocky Mountain Internet, now hosting the Linux Mall's site.
  • webMethods, "enterprise-strength XML" initiative.
  • Xspeed, new DSL adaptors that come with Linux drivers.
  • 3Dfx, Voodoo3 graphics accelerators with Linux support.
  • Softway Systems, offering prizes to those who port Linux applications to their Interix environment.

November 19, 1998


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