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Linux companies name new CEOs

SuSE and MandrakeSoft, two sellers of the Linux operating system, separately name new chief executives as part of each company's focus on profitability.

SuSE and MandrakeSoft, two sellers of the Linux operating system, on Monday named new chief executives whose goals will be to attain profitability.

Both companies are selecting new leaders after completing months-long restructuring operations. SuSE has solidified partnerships with software and hardware companies, joined the UnitedLinux collective, and put an emphasis on selling through business partners such as IBM. MandrakeSoft has returned to its roots, selling a desktop version of Linux.

SuSE, the No. 2 Linux company after Red Hat, named Richard Seibt its new CEO. The 20-year IBM veteran was CEO of Big Blue's software sales in Germany, general manager of its software group in North America, and most recently executive board member of German Internet service provider United Internet. Beginning Jan. 20, Seibt will replace Gerhard Burtscher, who took over in November 2001. Burtscher, a specialist in reversing the fortunes of troubled companies, is leaving the company, SuSE said.

On Seibt's agenda will be expanding the company's U.S. sales effort through new business partnerships and, in 2003, launching a new desktop version of SuSE Linux that's more ambitious than rival efforts to attack Microsoft's stronghold.

Seibt's top priority, though, will be profitability.

"There was no doubt for the board of directors that...SuSE Linux can be led to a profitable business concept," Heinrich Rodewig, chairman of SuSE's board, said in a statement.

Meanwhile, at MandrakeSoft, Francois Bancilhon has replaced co-founder Jacques Le Marois, who will remain chairman and president. Bancilhon, whose computing experience includes several start-ups in the United States and France, expects profitability to be a top goal.

Bancilhon founded O2 Technology, a database company he ran from 1991 to 1997, when he sold it to Unidata. After founding various other companies, Bancilhon mostly worked as chief technology officer at SomaLogic, a biotechnology company in Boulder, Colo.

MandrakeSoft, based in Paris but with the largest fraction of its business coming from the United States, had a net loss of $934,000 (940,000 euros) for the quarter ended June 30, the most recent quarter for which figures are available. The company's loss has been diminishing and revenue has been increasing.

MandrakeSoft's revenue comes from sales of its Linux software, now at version 9, and through selling support subscriptions.