InterBase joins Linux crusade

The database maker will post to the Web a free version of its InterBase 4.0 database server for the Linux operating system.

Database maker InterBase Software is jumping on the Linux bandwagon.

The company, a subsidiary of Inprise (formerly Borland International), said today it has posted to its Web site a free version of its InterBase 4.0 database server for the Linux operating system.

While InterBase is a small player in the database market--its software is designed to be embedded in other software products--the move is important because it could be a harbinger of things to come.

Sources said other software companies may be considering Linux ports of their key products. That's a surprise, since in the past most software vendors have not considered Linux to be commercially viable. Instead, companies like Oracle, Informix, and Sybase have traditionally invested in ports of their software for flavors of Unix, such as Solaris and HP-UX, favored by IS managers.

But Linux, a free version of the Unix operating system, has been enjoying a newfound popularity lately. Netscape Communications frequently cites Linux as the model for its open source code program that's resulted in the freeware distribution of the company's Communicator Web software suite.

Netscape is also extending the distribution model to its Directory Server software. See related story

Netscape's Marc Andreessen even went so far as to tell attendees at a meeting of the Massachusetts Software Council last month that he expects Linux to gain status as a serious operating system for corporate use, and said it may even challenge Windows NT at some point.

Sources said Informix had actually approved an internal plan to port its database software to Linux, but backed away after the company's financial situation worsened last year. Informix representatives would not comment on the Linux plan, except to say that the company will support operating systems based on customer demand.

InterBase said it decided to port its software to Linux due to the operating system's increasing popularity. The company cites a recent report by market researcher Datapro that shows Linux jumping from the seventh most commonly installed version of Unix to the fourth in only twelve months.

The company said it plans to ship a new version of its database, version 5.0, in the third quarter. That version is slated to include new SQL and server features, new client software, and a Java Database Connectivity (JDBC) driver.

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