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Linux and business

3Com releases a driver. For the first time, 3Com has actually provided its own Linux driver for one of its networking cards. This announcement describes the driver, which works on some of their newer cards (3C905B, 3C905C, 3C980B, 3C980C, 3C900B), and which has been released under the GPL. 3Com heavily credits Donald Becker for helping with this driver, and for having created so many network drivers that preceeded it.

It thus appears that 3Com has understood an important point: if their hardware works well with Linux, then Linux users will buy their hardware. The value of their software is in its ability to bring about hardware sales; thus it makes complete commercial sense for them to release it under a license like the GPL. (Using the GPL in particular, of course, will enable the driver's inclusion into the mainline kernel).

Cobalt Networks files for IPO. VA Linux Systems was supposed to be the second Linux IPO, but Cobalt quietly slipped in and announced its own while nobody was looking. They hope to pick up $86 million - about the same amount Red Hat went for. Unlike Red Hat, however, Cobalt has lost quite a bit of money - $22 million thus far. Getting started in the hardware business is hard.

Gluttons for punishment can read through Cobalt's S-1 filing describing the IPO. Some items of interest found therein:

  • They plan to reincorporate as a Delaware corporation. Delaware, of course, has more corporate-friendly laws than the other American states.

  • In their risks section, one of the hazards they mention is that Linux could go proprietary.

  • They list their use of open source software (Linux) as one of their big advantages, bringing more third-party applications, lower costs, shorter development cycles, and better application integration.

  • They also list their web-based administration software as an asset, and note that it is proprietary software. They also list proprietary clustering software. Open source only goes so far.

  • Cobalt currently has 101 employees, 34 of whom are in research and development.

  • Significant (more than 5%) Cobalt stock is already held by numerous people, including many of the management team and several venture capital firms.
Cobalt Networks clearly hopes to get in on the current interest in Linux stocks. It remains to be seen whether the public as a whole - which has probably, for the most part, never heard of Cobalt - will treat Cobalt as a Linux company.

Another Linux print magazine is coming: Maximum Linux has announced its existence and its plans to start with a 100,000 copy run. They will also be bundling a CD with Linux-Mandrake 6.0. Version 6.0 is already obsolete, of course, but that is the print business.

One wonders how many print magazines the Linux community can support. The Linux Journal and Linux Magazine are already out there and established. The major trade publishers have yet to get into the act, but they can be expected to as soon as they see enough money there. Some sort of shakeout in the Linux magazine business seems almost inevitable sooner or later.

Press Releases:


  • Aplio, Inc. announced its first IP Phone appliance, Aplio/PRO, for the SOHO and small business market. The Aplio/PRO is an embedded-Linux Internet Telephony device.

  • Arco Computer Products, Inc. announced the DupliDisk RAIDcase, a real-time backup device that offers PC users a way to maintain a duplicate of their IDE hard drives.

  • Ariel Corp. announced plans for its POP Culture Celebration at N + I. Several of their Linux systems will be showcased.

  • BlueSteel Networks, Inc. announced the uBSec 5501 security processor. Developer support for the 5501 will include a PCI compatible board and Linux driver.

  • Brooktrout Technology announced support for the Linux operating system on their TR114 Series intelligent fax and voice boards.

  • CoolKeyboards Corporation has announced a keyboard developed explicitly for Linux. Its main feature seems to be that the Windows logo on the modifier key in the bottom row has been replaced with a penguin...

  • IBM announced several new RS/6000 computers. The RS/6000 B50 comes with a choice of operating system, including AIX or Linux, and all the new RS/6000s can run Linux applications.

  • LAND-5 corporation has announced a new set of RAID arrays aimed at Linux users.

  • Motorola Computer Group announced that its Linux-based embedded computing platforms now ship with the newest version of Caldera Systems' OpenLinux.

  • Phobos Corporation says their IN-Switch PCI card running on Red Hat 6.2 Linux out-performed the Alteon WebSystems' ACEswitch 180 Plus.

  • Try the ProSyst EnterpriseBeans Server and win a PSION Series 5mx Pro palmtop computer in this offer from ProSyst.

  • Quicknet Technologies launched an Internet network telephony card that supports Windows and Linux at Networld+Interop.

  • Quicknet Technologies announced the Linux-compatible Internet PhoneJACK-PCI.

  • Rebel.com has announced a deal with KASAN Electronics to market, distribute, and support the Netwinder in the Pacific.

  • TheLinuxStore.com announced that they are offering the Element-L Ion system, pre-loaded with Red Hat Linux 6.0, for $399.


  • 3dfx Interactive Inc. announced it is making next-generation graphics technology available to software and hardware developers in a free, open-source format. This software makes texture compression technology available for a wide varitey of platforms, including Linux.

  • Cobalt Networks has announced its Solutions Directory - an online list of applications for their (Linux-based) servers.

  • Common Programming Interface (CPIX) Forum announced that it has been established to develop open standards that make it easy to write software that runs on communications processors from many vendors.

  • Dot Hill Systems Corp. announced SANpath 2.0, a member of Dot Hill's suite of SAN management software products. Linux versions are available.

  • Hummingbird Communications Ltd. announced the availability of Version 6.2 of Exceed, Exceed XDK, Exceed 3D, HostExplorer, NFS Maestro Client, NFS Maestro Server, NFS Maestro Solo and NFS Maestro Gateway. New in V6.2 - expanded access to Linux servers.

  • Instant Video Technologies will showcase the Linux port of its video and audio delivery system, Burstware, at Networld + Interop.

  • The folks at Loki Entertainment software have released the "SDL motion JPEG" video package under the LGPL.

  • NetBeans and Tendril Software announced the joint availability of their integrated modeling and development solution.

  • Peregrine Systems, Inc. announced it will offer Linux support for several of its product suites.

  • SCH Technologies announced that its library integration software, SRI (Standard Robotic Interface), is now available for Linux environments.

  • SLMsoft.com Inc. released its flagship product, ESP-Link/Financial Transaction Solution, and its Internet banking solution, ESP-Link/Virtual Financial Solution, on the Linux operating system.

  • Sony Computer Entertainment Inc announced the release of software development tools designed to support content creation for PlayStation2. The tools can be used as a Linux-based workstation enabling developers to create graphics in the PlayStation2 development environment.

  • Unify has announced the availability of its "eWave Engine" and "WebNow" products for Red Hat 6.0.

  • Vixel Corporation announced SAN InSite version 2.2, a Java edition of their management software.


  • 32BitsOnline and O'Reilly and Associates announced that they are joining forces to giveaway books to the Linux and Open Source community.

  • Andover.Net announced it has completed hardware upgrades to Slashdot and Freshmeat, Linux news and resource sites.

  • Cyber Station of Victoria announced it has incorporated CSV Technologies Inc. This development marks the next step in the company's expansion to its internet cafe business to include software development.

  • eSoft Inc. announced the completion of its merger with Technologic Inc.

  • eSoft Inc. announced at Networld + Interop, a new product roadmap. Linux is the core of the new product strategy focusing all new product development on Red Hat Linux.

  • LinuxForce Inc. completed the design, construction and installation of a high-end file server as the first step in the migration of Spanco to Linux-powered computing systems.
  • Red Hat has announced the opening of training offices in San Francisco and Santa Clara.

Section Editor: Jon Corbet.

September 16, 1999


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