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Key Linux site may be sold

The owner of Linux Online says he has received an offer to sell the popular site, the latest evidence of the continued demand for all things Linux.

The Linux Online Web site could be sold in the next few days, a possibility that highlights the value of Linux-related Internet real estate.

"We have received an offer," confirmed owner Michael McLagan today, though he said he hasn't decided whether to sell the site. He declined to say who proposed to buy the site or for how much, but said the interested party is a publicly traded company that buys Web sites, puts them under its umbrella, and sells Web-page advertising.

The Linux Online site, often referred to simply as, is one of the oldest Linux information sites. McLagan registered the domain and started the site five years ago. "We are primarily a jumping point where people can find a link to where they want to go," he said.

Linux sites have become a hot commodity as the Unix-like operating system has vaulted from a hobbyist project to software that the world's biggest computer manufacturers are embracing. Bidding for the Web site involved several large companies, according to its former owner.

VA Linux Systems eventually bought the site as part of its effort to more strongly link its name to the Linux movement.

In addition, Andover.Net bought two sites with strong Linux ties, the> "news for nerds" discussion site and the Freshmeat software news and downloads site.

Red Hat, the leading seller of Linux software, also has major plans for its portal, including tutorials, product promotion, advertising revenue, and a news site.

McLagan said he had no idea when he started the site that it would someday be worth money.

"I didn't register it with the idea that I'd be able to sell it some day," he said. "Even a year ago, I didn't envision selling it to somebody."

McLagan has not solicited proposals, he said, but "I always made the point to anybody who asked that the site was for sale if somebody...was interested."

Under the proposed purchase, the site would stay unchanged, at least for a time. "The current offer includes us continuing to work on the site for a period of time in the same design," he said.

The site receives respectable traffic. In July, Linux Online had 4 million page views by 1 million unique visitors, McLagan said.

By comparison, Red Hat's site received about 1.25 million in March, the company said. With its new acquisitions, Andover.Net receives about 16 million to 20 million views a month.

Linux Online currently is run by two people, but McLagan has plans to hire two Web designers and an advertising sales representative. McLagan has undisclosed expansion plans for Linux Online as well as for another Linux domain name, LinuxHQ, which he acquired in June.

McLagan has until September 7 to decide whether to accept the offer, he said. "I've told several other people that if they're interested, they should do something about it. I haven't decided whether I'm going to sell it or not."