FEATURES & COMMENTARY
San Diego, CA — As Linux 2.4 enters another round of testing, SCO is in negotiations to distribute a version of Linux from MandrakeSoft.
A source close to SCO confirms that the negotiations were ongoing as of July 13. Officials from SCO and MandrakeSoft, which is based in France, would neither confirm nor deny the potential partnership. SCO already offers support services for Caldera and TurboLinux. Targeting Linux could be SCO’s last hope for branching out of the Intel-based Unix market. The company on July 10 warned analysts that its Q3 earnings would not meet Wall Street’s expectations. Critics say Y2K budget concerns, along with the shift to Windows NT and Linux, have hammered SCO’s business.
Meanwhile, the third test release of Linux 2.4 hit the Web on July 10, with the final kernel release expected this fall. The major upgrade could push Linux beyond workstations, low-end servers and Web servers, to the wider, more profitable world of enterprise computing. If Linux 2.4 delivers on its promise, analysts say the operating system will be better positioned to compete with IBM AIX, HP-UX, Sun Solaris and Windows 2000 for the enterprise. It also could steal more market share from SCO UnixWare, hence the company’s interest in Linux.
Market watchers appear bullish about Linux 2.4. Dataquest predicts that by 2003, specialized Linux servers will generate a whopping $3.8 billion in annual sales.
Enter Linux 2.4. The new operating system offers much broader device support and high-end capabilities. For starters, it packs FireWire and USB compatibility, and embraces the plug-and-play Industry Standard Architecture (ISA). It also has an improved virtual file system (VFS) and file buffers. The result should be less memory use and improved performance for Linux applications.
The new Linux might be of particular interest to enterprise managers and high-end systems integrators. Open-source developers say the release will be able to handle 4.2 billion users on a single system. Also on tap is a Logical Volume Manager (LVM), which will let administrators span, resize and manage multiple disks and disk arrays at once.
Additionally, Linux version 2.4 better supports core SMP and higher-end systems. By default, a Linux 2.4 enterprise server can handle 4GB of RAM, 16 Ethernet cards and 10 IDE controllers. Linux 2.4 could give Caldera, Red Hat and other Linux vendors a much-needed shot in the arm. After spectacular initial public offerings several months ago, most Linux players have seen their respective share prices fall back to earth.