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VA Research buys Linux consulting firm

The company acquires Electric Lichen, a Linux consulting and marketing company, and picks up two important figures in the open source movement.

Linux computer vendor VA Research has acquired Electric Lichen, a Linux consulting and marketing company.

Electric Lichen helped IBM, Informix, and several Linux distributors set up their Linux marketing campaigns, VA Research said. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

More significant, though, is the fact that the acquisition gives VA Research two key people: Jim Gleason and Don Marti, both officials in large Linux user groups.

"They have an extensive network into the Linux community. Any additional links into the Linux community are good for a Linux company," said Brian Biles, VA Research's new vice president of marketing.

Marti is head of marketing for the Silicon Valley Linux Users' Group, and Gleason is president of the New York Linux Users Group.

VA Research, a rising star in the Linux realm, was the recipient of an equity investment by Intel to help port the Linux operating system to Intel's future 64-bit chips. Since the beginning of March, when the Intel investment was announced, VA Research has more than doubled in size to its current count of about 60, Biles said.

The company also helped write software that will let Linux take advantage of Intel technology for relatively low-cost eight-processor computers.

The company aims to match the manufacturing and sales abilities of Dell with the customer service and expertise of Sun Microsystems, Biles said. Biles himself spent 10 years at Sun, leaving in 1997 to become a consultant.

Though VA Research sells computers, it also tunes Linux to work as fast as possible on those machines and offers in-house technical support for all Linux distributions.