9 August 2004 A test version of UserLinux, an enterprise-level distribution of Linux long-promised by Linux evangelist Bruce Perens, is set for release at the beginning of September.
Perens, founder and promoter of UserLinux, unveiled the software at the LinuxWorld conference last week, “UserLinux is enterprise Linux without the big price tag,” he said.
While the open source operating system Linux is free to download, corporate customers often have to purchase support separately in a manner similar to the licences required to buy and use ordinary commercial software.
For example, Red Hat, the dominant commercial vendor of Linux, charges $299 per server per annum for support and updates, while Novell, its closest rival, demands $349 for its SuSE Linux product. Both companies increase the fee if more powerful servers are used.
Novell and Red Hat are able to charge such a fee due to the proprietary extensions they have added to their Linux distributions, combined with their sheer market power.
Perens decided to develop UserLinux in response. “As one of the producers whose software is in Red Hat Enterprise Linux, I started to get annoyed with the fact that many businesses were paying between $200 and $400 for Linux software,” he said.
UserLinux does not yet have certified proprietary applications. Perens said that this area will be given more attention as the customer base of UserLinux increases.
SCO claims that since 2001, AIX has contained code for which IBM does not have a licence. SCO also claims to have found internal IBM emails in which IBM employees acknowledge this fault.
IBM contends that its AIX licence is “irrevocable, perpetual and fully paid up” and accuses SCO of spreading fear, uncertainty and doubt about both AIX and Linux.