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Linux and business

Caldera Systems went public, after a short delay, on March 21. The stock, which was offered at $14/share began trading at $26 and closed at $29.44. It thus registered a 110% gain on its first day. This gain, of course, falls far short of those turned in by companies like Red Hat, VA Linux, and others. Some people are certainly disappointed by that. But this result should not be seen as disappointing in any way. Consider:
  • Caldera went public during a market that is hostile to technology stocks in general, and Linux stocks in particular. On the day that Caldera went out, VA Linux fell below $80 and Red Hat went below $60 - both small fractions of their peak values.

  • Caldera's IPO had been the subject of a fair amount of less-than-friendly press coverage. To say that it lacked the hype that some of its predecessors had would be an understatement.
In that context, Caldera put in a respectable performance. Interest in Linux companies, and in this company in particular, remains high enough to more than double the (already raised) initial price on the first day. Not bad.

(See also: Caldera's press release announcing the IPO).

Do depressed Linux stock values signal the end of the party? One could easily tend toward pessimism. LWN's Linux Stock Index, which peaked at over 200, is now below 120. VA Linux systems is down below a quarter of its peak value; Red Hat, Cobalt, and Andover are below half their peaks. It must be hard times in the world of Linux business.

Or maybe not. One could just as easily say that the stock values of last December were an irrational aberration and that some sort of reality is now returning to the field. Was Red Hat ever really worth almost $20 billion? The values of most Linux stocks are still high in any sort of absolute terms. If they had reached their current values from below, how many people would really be disappointed?

The return of reality can only be a good thing. Linux will not take over the world tomorrow. No one company will ever dominate the Linux market. It makes no sense to value Linux stocks so highly, and it distorts a lot of things. It attracts companies like LinuxOne. Maybe now Linux company CEO's can dream a little less about becoming instant billionaires and get on with the business of making their companies actually work.

New Linuxcare S-1 filing Linuxcare has submitted a new S-1 (IPO) filing ending a period of silence from that direction. There is little exciting to be found therein - the price range remains $11-13. The new filing does much more strongly emphasize that the director and officers will own 57.7% of the company; states that they are now approved to use the LXCR symbol; lists, among the risk factors, that the widespread use of the term "Linux" could cause confusion; removes references to agreements with Creative Computing, Informix, and Viviance; removes the staff list showing their prominent developers; and lists expiration dates for their big contracts (all in 2000).

SourceForge - with a twist? A site called Asynchrony.com has announced its existence. Asynchrony seems to think that it can harness open source style software development methodologies for proprietary projects; it seems that perhaps they do not entirely understand what makes open source work.

Asynchrony hosts development projects, much like SourceForge does. Only, in most cases, the source code is kept proprietary; only developers who have been accepted into the project have access. Each developer is assigned a number of "shares" in the project. If and when the project makes money, it gets paid back to the developers based on how many shares they have.

Marketing and sales are handled by Asynchrony. The company also, crucially, claims ownership of all code hosted on its site.

Asynchrony may well establish itself as a way to publicise and recruit developers worldwide for proprietary projects - there might just be a market there. But, despite its pretensions, it is not hosting anything that looks like an open source development process. It is simply providing outsourcing for a number of aspects of the proprietary software business. Too bad they feel the need to splash "Linux" all over their press releases.

Corel announces first quarter results. Corel has announced its first quarter results. They lost $12.4 million on $44.1 million in revenues. The announcements includes a prediction that similar losses will prevail for the next couple of quarters as well. The press conference was characterized by an almost whiny performance by CEO Michael Cowpland, who wanted to know why his company was expected to make money when all those other Linux companies, with high market capitalizations, didn't have to.

Corel has also announced that WordPerfect Office 2000 for Linux is now shipping, and will show up in stores in early April.

TurboLinux developing custom Linux for Chinese Space Agency. TurboLinux has announced that it is developing a custom version of its distribution for the China Aerospace Corporation. No word on what will make this custom version special.

Troll Tech to preview embedded Linux GUI. Troll Tech has announced the preview of a new graphical user interface development library for embedded systems. The library evidently provides the Qt interface to applications, but runs without the X window system. There is no mention of licensing in the press release.

Lineo acquires Moreton Bay. Lineo has announced that it is acquiring Moreton Bay, an Australian firm that does a lot of virtual private network work.

SGI announces digital media SDK. SGI has announced the availability of its digital media software development kit, which works with Irix and Linux both. "dmSDK provides a bridge to enable digital media developers to migrate their applications to Linux."

eSoft and Intel sign network appliance deal. eSoft has announced a deal with Intel to provide its Linux-based "redphish" software for Intel's "Entry-level Communication Applicance Reference Design" platform. Together the two will be marketing the software to OEMs as a ready-to-go system.

'Jini in a Nutshell' released. O'Reilly and Associates has announced the release of Jini in a Nutshell. They have put one chapter on the net for those who want to sample the book.

SCO announces new corporate structure. SCO has announced a corporate restructuring that will, it claims, better enable it to pursue Linux opportunities (among other things).

In a separate release, SCO also announced that its second quarter results will be "significantly lower" than expected. They blame the post-Y2K period for their problems...

Teamware Office for Linux 5.3 Edition 2. Teamware Office is a commercial product from Fujitsu that has been ported to Linux and is available on a free trial basis. Checking out the product comparison page, it has an interesting list of features, including its own web server, backup softare, billing software and more. Not all features are currently working on Linux, but if you've been stymied in your Linux transition by the absence of an equivalent for a proprietary package in these areas, you may want to take a look.

Some folks were amused by the Perl OS spoof we mentioned in the March 9 LWN. In a "truth is stranger than fiction" move, a company called Aestiva has announced a thing called "HTML/OS" - claimed to be the first operating system for the web. "Development is done with HTML, the "Hypertext Markup Language" documents which form the basis for all Web sites. This kind of focus on the Web cannot be accomplished with conventional operating systems since they are hardware-centric, not Web-centric." Upon a closer look, HTML/OS appears to not be an operating system at all, but another processing language which can be embedded into web pages. Sort of like PHP, except that the language is BASIC... But it does run under Linux.

Section Editor: Jon Corbet.

Press Releases:

    Open Souce Products:

  • Interphase has announced the availability of Linux drivers for its fibre channel adapters. An (unspecified) open source license is claimed for these drivers.

    Commercial Products for Linux:

  • Adaptec has announced that its Ultra160 SCSI controllers are supported under Linux on IA-64 systems.

  • Agate Technologies, Inc. (FREMONT, Calif.) announced it will soon be releasing its next generation new HotChip, a "hot swap" IDE Plug & Play ASIC (Application Specific Integrated Circuit) chip with software driver, to support the Linux operating system on Intel-based systems.

  • Bowstreet (San Francisco) announced the Bowstreet Business Web Factory 2.0, a B2B platform that lets companies grow their businesses on the web.

  • Digi International Inc. (MINNEAPOLIS) announced the availability of its DataFire SYNC 2000 Driver Development Kit (DDK).

  • GNUware announced the release of PackageIT! 1.0 containing the over 500 megabytes of Linux programs in RPM format for use on most any Linux machine supporting RPM.

  • I-Link, Inc. (DRAPER, Utah) announced GateLink open-API programming platform, a "pioneering step in IP Telephony communications".

  • Linux Technologies (KANSAS CITY, Kan) announced its suite of packaged open source desktop software applications. Applications are available in several categories including office, business, scientific, network, graphics, games, and multimedia.

  • Mortgage Builder Software has announced the availability of its loan origination system for Linux.

  • A company called Multiple Zones has announced the opening of its online Linux store.

  • QAD announced immediate availability of QAD MFG/PRO version 9.0 enterprise applications for Red Hat Linux 6.0.

  • WZIS Store now has WZOLE 4.0N for Linux/X86 (the N means non-commercial). WZOLE stands for Wei Zhong Oriental Language Environment, and this version is free of charge for non-commercial and personal use.

  • Zapex Technologies (MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif.) introduced the ZL-330 Linux-based MPEG-2/Dolby encoder for satellite, video server, Digital Video Broadcast (DVB), and cable applications.

    Products Using Linux:

  • EBIZ Enterprises Inc. (SCOTTSDALE, ARIZONA--OTTAWA, ONTARIO) announced its new line of dual boot workstations based on the Corel LINUX OS and Microsoft Windows 98. When turned on, the new dual boot systems initially start in Corel LINUX OS, with a menu-driven option to work in either the Corel LINUX OS or Microsoft Windows 98 operating system.

  • EBIZ has announced a new line of server systems - with TurboLinux installed - that will be available from TheLinuxStore.com.

    Java Products:

  • Compuware Corporation (SAN JOSE, Calif.) announced the introduction of NuMega DevPartner 2.0 Java Edition.

  • Insignia Solutions (FREMONT, Calif.) announced that its has joined the Digital Video Broadcast (DVB) Project to market its accelerated Jeode platform as the premier Java solution for digital set-top box and television applications.

  • Java World (SOMERS, N.Y.) called IBM's Java Developer Kit 1.1.8 for Linux the "Best Free Product".

  • Level 8 Systems, Inc. announced Geneva Message Queuing for Java.

    Products with Linux Versions:

  • AltaVista Company (PALO ALTO, Calif.) announced the immediate availability of AltaVista Search Engine 3.0 for e-business.

  • Cohesion Systems, Inc. (WOODSIDE, Calif) announced a new product and pricing structure for their database driven design capture products for Verilog/VHDL, Analog/Full Custom IC, and PCB design environments.

  • ConnectCom Solutions, Inc. announced the shipment of its AdvanSys ASB3950U2W "two-in-one" Ultra2 Small Computer Systems Interface (SCSI) board. Drivers are available to support Linux.

  • Cycore (SAN MATEO, Calif.) announced the release of Cycore Cult3D 5.0, which delivers the ability to insert 3D graphics into any Microsoft Office or Adobe Acrobat (PDF) document.

  • Firstwave Technologies, Inc. (ATLANTA) announced support of Oracle database technology and the Linux and Unix operating systems for Firstwave eRM, a web-based suite of customer/partner relationship management applications.

  • Hewlett-Packard Company (SAN FRANCISCO) unveiled the HP Garage Program. The HP Garage Program, supports start-ups in building, running, marketing and financing their businesses.

  • ITtoolbox (PHOENIX) announced the launch of Open IT Exchange (OpenITx), a new Internet community hub that lets IT professionals collaborate with each other.

  • JNI Corporation (SAN DIEGO) announced it has started shipping the FibreStar FCE2-6410 and FCE2-6412, dual-port PCI-to-Fibre Channel host bus adapters for use in storage systems, servers and other devices.

  • JPHI America Inc. (MINNEAPOLIS) announced the launch an upgraded version of its SuiteResponse CRM (customer relationship management) solution, Service 5.01.

  • McAfee (SANTA CLARA, Calif.) announced it is shipping new versions of the McAfee VirusScan product for e-businesses and consumers.

  • Neoware Systems, Inc. (KING OF PRUSSIA, Pa.) announced that its new NeoStation 3000C and 2300 information appliances have been awarded prestigious PC Magazine Editors' Choice awards.

  • NetCentrex (SANTA CLARA, Calif.) unveiled its NetCentrex Platform, a 100% IP Telephony solution.

    Partnerships, Investments and Acquisitions:

  • Actuate Corporation announced it has acquired EnterpriseSoft, a developer of Java software products. Actuate plans to support customers and resellers developing applications based around the Java and Linux platforms.

  • Digital Island, Inc. (SAN FRANCISCO) announced that Linuxcare, Inc. uses its network services to deliver customer support to Global 1000 companies.

  • Eagle Wireless International, Inc. (LEAGUE CITY, Texas) announced the acquisition of etoolz, Inc., a San Antonio-based research and development organization specializing in the development of innovative Java and Linux-based hardware and software technologies for the communications industry.

  • Elfstone Software (ROYAL OAK, Mich.) announced a partnership with Frank Kasper and Associates, a distributor of Linux software.

  • HotDispatch.com (SAN JOSE, Calif.) launched a new online developer support service with IBM developerWorks, a fast, free online resource dedicated to developers focused on open industry standards.

  • Interphase Corporation (DALLAS) announced that LAND-5 Corporation has selected Interphase PowerSAN adapters to provide Fibre Channel SAN connectivity for networks running the Linux operating system.

  • Lineo, Inc. (LINDON, Utah) announced an agreement with Coresoft Technologies to deliver a Linux-based computer telephony solution.

  • Merlin Software Technologies Inc. (ALTAMONTE SPRINGS, FLORIDA) announced an agreement with Italsel, the leading software distributor in Italy. Italsel will distribute Merlin's PerfectBACKUP+ Linux backup and crash recovery software to its retail channel.

  • Microtest, Inc. (PHOENIX) formed a strategic alliance with the Tokyo Electro Acoustics Company (TEAC) to market a new line of network attached storage appliances. TEAC's Data Storage Product Division (DSPD), responsible for continental Europe, will embed Microtest's DiscZerver technology in its new network attached optical servers.

  • Moreton Bay LLC and Progressive Systems, Inc. announced their joint development of an embedded firewall appliance solution based on the Progressive Systems Phoenix Adaptive Firewall, which is both ICSA and Linux Labs certified, and the Moreton Bay NETtel embedded Linux Internet VPN router.

  • Pervasive Software Inc. (AUSTIN, Texas) announced that it has signed a distribution agreement with Abits Software to distribute Pervasive's Tango 2000 e-business application development software and Pervasive.SQL 2000 database in Latin America.

  • Renegade Inc. (TAMPA, Fla.) announced that it has become a Business Partner-Value-Added Reseller for Caldara Systems, Inc.

  • A company called sTupidPC has announced that it has received approval as a Red Hat reseller.

  • Worldwide Online Corp. (Toronto) announced that the company will join IBM's "Service Provider for e-business" initiative of IBM PartnerWorld, an initiative developed to enable the next generation of Service Providers.

    Linux products at work:

  • InfoExpress (Los Altos, CA) released this press release about Sybase using the InfoExpress VTCP/Secure virtual private network (VPN) solution which runs on Red Hat Linux 5.2.

  • HostPro (NAMPA, Idaho) announced it is using the Cobalt RaQ 3 server appliance to provide web hosting.

  • Neal Nelson & Associates reported that Alcatel used its Linux-based test bed to put all of Alcatel's products through high stress, real-life testing in a controlled lab environment.

  • Unify Corporation (SAN JOSE, Calif) and Honeywell Security Products announced that Honeywell Security Products NexSentry StarGaze received an award. NexSentry StarGaze is a next-generation security management system developed using Unify's application development environment for Linux.


  • 1mage Software, Inc. (ENGLEWOOD, Colo.) announced the appointment of James J. Capeless to its Board of Directors.

  • Integrated Software & Devices Corporation (SAN JOSE, Calif.) a provider of embedded Linux, Royal Linux and VxWorks software solutions, announced that Art Swift has joined the company as its president and chief operating officer.

  • nStor Technologies (SAN DIEGO) announced the appointment of Jonathan Ash as Vice President Marketing.

  • OMNIS Technology Corporation (SAN CARLOS, Calif) announced that Bryce J. Burns, an experienced software operations executive, has joined its board of directors. Mr. Burns currently heads the Business Planning and Release Management Group of Novell, Inc. Previously, Burns served as executive vice president and chief operating officer of Caldera Systems, Inc.

  • Piranha, Inc. (DALLAS) announced two appointments to Piranha's Board of Directors and the assignment of Nathan McClintock as President of Piranha's wholly owned subsidiary Zideo.com. Piranha, Inc. is a digital workflow technology company providing data compression technology, created on the Linux operating system.


  • Andover.Net (ACTON, Mass.) announced its network of sites now has more than 3,000,000 unique visitors and over 60,000,000 page impressions on a monthly basis.

  • Arkeia Software (CARLSBAD, Calif.) announced that it has expanded its reseller network to now include online software vendors specializing in the Linux operating system.

  • Gannett Media Technologies International (Cincinnati) a systems integrator and software developer serving the printing and publishing industry, announced the completion of 19 Linux-based Digital Collections DC3 L-Systems.

  • The Linux Business Expo has put out this press release talking about the companies that will be exhibiting at the conference in April.

  • Maximum Linux has put out this silly press release drawing attention to its April 11 launch date.

  • Navarre has announced that it distributed 33% of all Linux software sold in the second half of 1999.

  • Netgem (NEUILLY-SUR-SEINE, France) announced new records in revenues for its second year of commercial operations. Netgem's technology operates on a Linux-based open software platform and a thin-client access device.

  • Sair Linux & GNU released this newsletter which recaps several of their more recent press releases.

  • SmartForce has announced a series of Linux training courses aimed at Linux Professional Institute and RHCE certification.

Section Editor: Rebecca Sobol.

March 23, 2000


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