4 July 2002 Linux operating system distributor MandrakeSoft has announced it will not be joining the UnitedLinux initiative.
In a statement, MandrakeSoft executives explain that they disagree with the whole idea behind UnitedLinux – which was launched in May 2002 by Caldera, Conectiva, SuSE and TurboLinux- because it implies that the Linux operating system is “splintered and diverging”, much like the Unix operating system in the 1980s.
“MandrakeSoft would gain nothing by joining UnitedLinux and doing so would damage our reputation,” it adds. According to the statement, UnitedLinux represents nothing more than simple market consolidation, where several competitors choose to merge their products.
Competition is good, adds MandrakeSoft, making an analogy between Linux and the automotive industry. “Could you imagine a world with only one car model?” it asks.
Commercially there are also compelling reasons for MandrakeSoft to remain independent. First, in volume terms, it is already bigger than the four UnitedLinux members combined. Second, its focus is on the desktop, while UnitedLinux will be strictly server-based for the foreseeable future.
However, MandrakeSoft is yet to record a profit and would have benefited from pooling sales and marketing resources with its fellow distributors under the initiative.
So far, only market leader Red Hat and systems vendor IBM appear to have generated significant revenue from Linux. UnitedLinux advocates argue that by creating a single, standardise distribution it will make it easier for software vendors to port applications between different platforms, providing they conform to the UnitedLinux standard.