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Caldera lures Linux guru away from rival

Caldera Systems hires a key Linux programmer formerly employed by rival company Turbolinux, a move that underlines the competitive nature of the Linux world.

LAS VEGAS--In a move that underlines the increasingly competitive nature of the open-source world, Caldera Systems has hired a key Linux programmer formerly employed by rival company Turbolinux.

John Terpstra is Comdex 2000:
Back to the future a cofounder of the Samba project, software that allows Linux servers to share files on networks of Windows computers. Samba is one of the core software packages used with Linux, along with the Apache Web server software and the Sendmail email software.

Caldera Systems chief executive Ransom Love confirmed the move Tuesday, saying that Terpstra would help Caldera's effort to standardize how the open-source Linux operating system works, but declining further comment.

However, a source familiar with the hiring plan said Terpstra would become a key part of Caldera's chief technology office. He is expected to guide product development and act as a liaison between two often-conflicting cultures: the business world, and the open-source programming world.

Executives for Turbolinux could not immediately be reached for comment. Hired in 1999, Terpstra had been vice president of community relations at the company.

The move is a blow to Turbolinux, a company that recently filed to go public. Also, Turbolinux cofounders Cliff and Iris Miller left last month to start up another company focusing on data storage.

Linux companies such as Red Hat, Caldera, Linuxcare and others have been aggressively wooing high-profile Linux programmers in an effort to increase their prestige and convince prospective customers that their staff has a thorough understanding of the open-source operating system and its capabilities.

Red Hat, the first Linux company to go public, even warned in recent Securities and Exchange Commission filings that the possibility of losing some of its of key programmers was a serious risk to the business.

Hiring Linux gurus also provides employers a little more control over Linux and other open-source software, which is developed collaboratively by a multitude of programmers across a number of different companies and organizations.

Another indication of CNET's Linux Center the importance of high-powered Linux programmers can be seen at Linuxcare, which has been boasting that it has retained its staff despite recent management turmoil.

Maintaining top programming staff may be important, but it's not the only part of a successful business. Caldera, with slim revenue, has seen its stock hammered in recent weeks. On Tuesday, the stock closed at $3--$11 below the company's IPO price.