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September 6, 2002


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UnitedLinux, a Divisive Weapon for Caldera's Darl McBride -- Part II

By Mike Angelo -- 6 September 2002 (C) -- Page 2

Part II Article Index

Darl McBride does not speak for SuSE or for UnitedLinux

SuSE did answer that question -- Darl McBride does not speak for SuSE or for UnitedLinux.

Martina Krahmer, International Public Relations spokesperson for SuSE Linux AG, told MozillaQuest Magazine: All [UnitedLinux] companies are acting as individual enterprises expressing individual views. As soon as the new General Manager of the UnitedLinux LLC will be on board, we are sure that we are doing better in synchronizing our voices. The joint goal of the initiative is not to attack other Linux vendors, but to push the Linux technology according to business customer needs through close technical collaboration between the vendors and therefore, to make Linux the operating system of choice in enterprises all over the world. (Emphases added.)

Several months ago it seemed that former Caldera CEO, Ransom Love was a shoe-in for the UnitedLinux LLC General Manager slot. In a 27 June 2002 NewsForge article, Ransom Love out as Caldera CEO, now concentrating on UnitedLinux, Roblimo Miller then reported: UnitedLinux, assuming it comes close to living up to the expectations its founding partners have for it, is certainly going to be a full-time job for someone, and it looks like Ransom Love is that someone. (Link in Resources section at end of this article.)

Things have changed since two months ago, however. As Martina Krahmer notes (in a 23 August 2002 e-mail discussion with MozillaQuest Magazine) there is no UnitedLinux General Manager yet. In a 25 August 2002 Linux Business Week article, United Linux Is Love-Less, Maureen O'Gara reports: ex-Caldera CEO Ransom Love ain't gonna be running the United Linux initiative . . . His credentials as a Caldera founder and shareholder worked against him, he says. Sources say SuSE objected. Maybe it was the inherent conflict of interest, as Love suggests. (Link in Resources section at end of this article.)

While no one at SuSE has come out and said it directly, it certainly appears that SuSE is trying to distance itself from McBride and Caldera. That might not be so surprising. Consider (1) McBride's inappropriate statements and marketing methods. Then consider (2) what gives at least the appearance of a conflict of interest with Caldera/SCO (primarily a UNIX company) trying to use SuSE's stature in the Linux community to attack other Linux distributions -- in order to protect its UNIX established-base from being grazed by Linux distribution providers. Add to that mix (3) SuSE rejecting former Caldera CEO Ransom Love for the UnitedLinux general manager slot. SuSE and Caldera/SCO is a marriage that could find itself dissolved before it is fully consummated.

Holger Dyroff told MozillaQuest Magazine: UnitedLinux is certainly challenging the existing server landscape, but not threatening or insulting anyone. Targeted market share is that of Sun Solaris and MS Windows. [Emphasis added.]

Other Linux companies, such as Red Hat are regarded as potential future partners. The UnitedLinux initiative seeks to produce the best, compatible server product for the market. Not more and not less. [Emphasis added.]

It seems pretty darn clear to us. The SuSE spokespeople, emphasize SuSE's interest is in advancing Linux by targeting their marketing efforts at UNIX and MS Windows. They emphasize working to make Linux the best it can be. SuSE wants to partner with the other Linux distribution companies. That's good Linux leadership. That's the outlook of a model citizen of the Linux community. That's darn smart business too!

SuSE's interests in promoting Linux just do not mesh with Caldera/SCO's interests in promoting its UNIX platform. SuSE's well articulated position does not mesh with the statements made by Caldera/SCO's Darl McBride. The question here might not be if SuSE and Caldera/SCO are on the same page. It does not appear that SuSE and Caldera/SCO are even on the same book!

It appears that both Mandrake and Red Had were invited to join the UnitedLinux consortium back when UnitedLinux was being organized. Both declined the invitation -- sort of. It appears to be questionable as to whether Mandrake and Red Hat were really invited to join the UnitedLinux consortium. It's also questionable as to whether UnitedLinux is a standard or just another distribution. Here is part of a very interesting discussion with Red Hat's marketing vice-president, Mark de Visser, about that.

MozillaQuest Magazine: Has Red Hat ever been invited to join United Linux? If so, is that invitation still open?

Mark de Visser: Ransom Love, who presided UL, stated publicly that he had, although he agreed not in a very meaningful way (he called us the evening before the announcement). We have never been presented a documented proposal.

MozillaQuest Magazine: "presided" = founded or started?

Mark de Visser: Don't know, he was their spokesperson at the time they made their announcement. Then he left Caldera to join UL full time.

MozillaQuest Magazine: "he agreed not in a very meaningful way" Do you mean "invited" instead of "agreed" here perhaps. That phrase does not read for me as stated.

Mark de Visser: He agreed that he had not given us a very serious invitation: If you want to involve a company in a joint initiative, you organize a meeting, lay out the objectives, the terms and conditions and find out from the company if they are interested. And then you allow for the time to see if that company has questions, needs clarification, etc. Ransom did none of that, he called us the day before the announcement and just said 'do you want to join?'.

Since then, UL has never come back to us with a more serious invitation. Caldera's McBride has never spoken with us, and states in eWeek this week ".... United Linux will offer users and enterprise customers an alternative to Red Hat Linux." It seems to me that this is the real purpose of UnitedLinux, to be the number 2 Linux brand (the Pepsi next to Coke, the Avis next to Hertz, etc.). They have never intended to really invite us.

UnitedLinux is just another Linux distribution, like Slackware, Mandrake and Debian. It is not an initiative that can be joined, a standard that can be adhered to, or anything else. It is just another distribution. - That is not a negative verdict by the way, it is just what it is. . . . we were not invited. [Emphasis added.]

Gaël Duval is the founder of Mandrake Linux and co-founder of MandrakeSoft SA and MandrakeSoft, Inc. In e-mail discussions we asked Gaël Duval about McBride's San Francisco offensive.

MozillaQuest Magazine: Caldera's new CEO Darl McBride has been making statements to the effect that there are, or will be when UnitedLinux is released, (only) two advanced/enterprise level servers UnitedLinux and Red Hat. Is not Mandrake a player in the advanced/enterprise level servers realm also?

Gaël Duval: Mandrake is getting bigger and bigger as a server solution, whatever competitors say. Readers might be interested in having a look at where hundreds of companies explain why they use Mandrake as a server.

MozillaQuest Magazine: McBride also has been saying that the four UnitedLinux companies taken together are bigger than Red Hat. Specifically: "If we combined our market share, we have more than Red Hat,"And "If we combine our developer count, we have more than Red Hat."

Gaël Duval: It's easy to say things. Now we need proof.

MozillaQuest Magazine: Once again, McBride does not even acknowledge the existence of Mandrake.

Gaël Duval: Surprised?

MozillaQuest Magazine: How does Mandrake weigh in here regarding market share?

Gaël Duval: It depends on what you call "market share". If you consider the number of users, Mandrake Linux is clearly number 2. Regarding the income, we're smaller. But our strategy is different: we have built a huge user-base in four years. Now we're going to transform this user-base into business.

MozillaQuest Magazine: Is UnitedLinux bigger than Mandrake?

Gaël Duval: Regarding the number of users, no.

MozillaQuest Magazine: Is UnitedLinux bigger than Mandrake and Red Hat taken together?

Gaël Duval: No. It's not my feeling, it's based on what I see in surveys. I think it's clear for everybody that the only big player in UL is SuSE. Others have very little market shares and very few users. As a result, it doesn't change the ranking. But who cares?

MozillaQuest Magazine: How does Mandrake's developer count match up against UnitedLinux's developer count?

Gaël Duval: UL clearly has more employees than MandrakeSoft. But Mandrake has a very big community of developers/contributors.

MozillaQuest Magazine: McBride also said "There's increased demand from vendors who want more than a single distribution of Linux. Red Hat is one who will be the other?". Has he not again ignored Mandrake and its role in the Linux community?

Gaël Duval: Surprised?

See UnitedLinux: A Standard or a Distribution? on Page 3 ----->

Part I Article Index

Part II Article Index

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