Four of the world's largest Linux distributors have banded together to create a standard version of Linux designed for the business market.
Caldera International, Conectiva, SuSE Linux and TurboLinux have formed a group called UnitedLinux, which will develop a single Linux code-base that all four vendors will use in upcoming versions of their products.
This means hardware vendors and software vendors will only have to build their machines or develop their applications for one flavour of Linux. At present, the Linux open-source software is fragmented in much the same way as Unix.
Development teams from each vendor, overseen by project managers at SuSE Linux, will collaborate to take the best features of each of their current Linux flavours to create the standard version. The four companies will then bundle this version with their applications and value-added services and take them to market under their own branding.
Caldera Australia and New Zealand's general manager, Kieran O'Shaughnessy, said the collaborative development of a standard Linux platform for the enterprise is likely to win over many business users. He said the project is squarely aimed at stealing market share from Microsoft, as it is the only vendor that supplies a broad range of enterprises. Other Linux and Unix vendors, O'Shaughnessy said, tend to sit in niche markets and will not be heavily affected.
O'Shaughnessy said the concept of UnitedLinux has been tossed around among the major distributors for some two years, but it was a long and complicated process trying to decide on a design plan for the initial code-base. The four companies have invited other parties in the Linux community to the table if they wish to participate.
UnitedLinux will provide one standard code-base for IBM's eServer range and will support the 32 and 64-bit platforms of both AMD and Intel. The four founding partners plan to offer their first server lines based on UnitedLinux by the end of this year.