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Caldera CEO says Unix buy will help Linux adoption

The acquisition of Santa Cruz Operations' Unix software and services will help Caldera address weaknesses that have kept Linux from mainstream use, says CEO Ransom Love.

SAN JOSE, Calif.--The acquisition of Santa Cruz Operations' Unix software and services will help Caldera address weaknesses that have kept Linux from mainstream use, Caldera chief executive Ransom Love said today.

The acquisition, announced two weeks ago, gives Caldera the ability to provide global sales, support and customization services; an operating system that will work on heavy-duty servers; and strong partnerships with software companies, Love said in a keynote address today at the LinuxWorld Conference and Expo.

"In many areas, we are not even close to crossing the chasm" and making Linux a mainstream operating system accepted by corporate information technology managers, Love said. Linux has a foothold in general-purpose servers and will expand to dominate special-purpose server appliances, Love predicted.

But for high-end systems, Caldera will advocate the use of UnixWare, one of SCO's versions of the Unix operating system on which Linux is based. "Linux currently does not scale to the high-end data center, (but) other operating systems in the industry do," he said. "A single operating system kernel cannot scale," he said.

Adjusting to this new reality is the latest challenge Caldera faces as it tries to grow out of being just a Linux company. Caldera must digest the seasoned employees from SCO; is facing brisk competition from Red Hat, Linuxcare and other Linux players; and has seen its stock sink below its initial public offering price.

Caldera hopes to shield software companies and programmers from the complexity of its product line. The company's goal is to make sure software writers won't have to worry about whether Linux or SCO's UnixWare kernel is being used, Love said.

In addition, Love unveiled a new management tool for Linux computers called Cosmos that lets administrators control individual machines, install software remotely, search for hardware and software used across an entire network, and set up automatic behavior for different categories of computers.

However, Caldera will have to reckon with competition in an area that others have seen as an opportunity to gain influence by fixing a Linux weakness. Many companies, including Enlighten Software, Linuxcare, Computer Associates International, IBM and TurboLinux, are working on management software for Linux.

The management software can control versions of Linux from Caldera, Red Hat, TurboLinux and any company that uses the Red Hat Package Manager (RPM) update software. Cosmos is written so others can write modules to control Linux versions that use different techniques, such as Slackware or Debian.

Cosmos will be extended so it can control systems running SCO's UnixWare and OpenServer operating systems, Love said.

Love also said differing versions of Linux are hampering wider adoption. Even though much about the software is the same from Red Hat to Caldera to SuSE or other versions, they're different enough that companies must test and qualify hardware and software with each. For this reason, Caldera is increasing its efforts to make the Linux Standard Base bear fruit, he said.