30 May 2002 A number of Linux operating system vendors have announced plans for a common distribution in a bid to wrest market share from dominant vendor Red Hat. Caldera, Conectiva, SuSE and Turbolinux will unveil the plans later today.
However, it is still unclear whether the deal will involve joint product development, or whether it will simply be limited to joint marketing.
In many ways, the agreement makes sense, say analysts. There is considerable overlap in product capability between the four because differentiation between most Linux distributions is not that great and they all come with a similar collection of open source software. Nevertheless, a single standardised distribution will allow end users to port software more easily across the various platforms.
The motive for such a deal is clear. Linux software vendors with the exception of Red Hat have struggled to stay profitable because of the ease with which their software can legally be copied and downloaded under the terms of the general public license (GPL).
They have therefore started to re-focus on services, reducing their need to each keep separate sales and research and development teams to do more-or-less the same thing.
In addition, the deal will allow the vendors to extend their reaches across different geographies. While Conectiva has a strong presence in South America, SuSE is popular in Europe, particularly Germany. Meanwhile, Caldera’s main market is in North America and Turbolinux is widely used across Asia.
Only Red Hat and IBM so far seem to have generated significant revenues from Linux.