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Key programmer among Caldera job cuts

The 51 employees who lost their jobs in the latest round of layoffs at Caldera International include a programmer who helped lead a key part of the company's strategy.

The 51 employees who lost their jobs in the latest round of layoffs at Caldera International include a programmer who helped lead a key part of the company's strategy of making its Linux and Unix operating systems work in the same way.

Juergen G. Kienhoefer helped write the Linux Kernel Personality (LKP) software, which lets Linux programs run unmodified on Caldera's higher-end Open Unix software.

The software is a key part of the company's strategy to minimize the complexity of selling several operating systems. In fact, Caldera announced Tuesday that the Linux version of the Oracle 9i database software has been certified to run on Open Unix.

Earlier this month, Orem, Utah-based Caldera announced layoffs, restructuring, an $18.8 million loss, and a reverse stock split to try to prevent delisting from the Nasdaq. Caldera started as a Linux company but earlier this year acquired two versions of Unix from Santa Cruz Operation, which now is named after its Tarentella software product. Included in the acquisition were hundreds of employees. Kienhoefer was among them.

Caldera spokeswoman Tania Cantrell confirmed Thursday that Kienhoefer was among those to have lost a job. But she added that the LKP software remains "a fundamental element of our entire product and platform design." The company still has several key individuals working on the project, she said.

Fifty-one of the Caldera's 618 employees lost their jobs in the latest layoffs, Cantrell said. The cuts were from all departments, including marketing, development and administration. The company laid off workers earlier this year as well.

Caldera plans to formally announce details of the layoffs Monday, Cantrell said.

According to a presentation in August 2000 by Kienhoefer and colleague Dion Johnson, LKP has 40,000 lines of code that tie in with the 2.3 million lines of code making up the heart, or kernel, of Open Unix (formerly called UnixWare).

Kienhoefer, who didn't immediately respond to an e-mail seeking comment, joined SCO in 1997. Before working on the Linux project, he helped to write software called PerkUp that sped up execution of Java programs.

Caldera faces competition not only with Linux sellers such as Red Hat and SuSE, but also from Unix companies such as Sun Microsystems and IBM.