The two second-tier Linux companies will adopt common Linux software and engineering. Alas, this idea doesn't have a great history of success.
Forgive me if I sound skeptical, but during the nine years I've covered Linux, not once have I seen a favorable outcome to the partnership of the type Mandriva and Turbolinux announced Wednesday.
Tokyo-based Turbolinux and Paris-based Mandriva said they'll unify their products to use a common base system in an endeavor called Manbo-Labs. The first software to employ this base will be Mandriva Linux 2008 Spring, the companies said.
"By pooling together common engineering resources, Mandriva and Turbolinux will be able to invest more in technology and product quality," the companies said in a statement. This should help expand the list of compatible hardware and lead to stronger relationships with software and hardware companies, the Linux sellers predicted.
This sort of partnership makes sense in a world where much of the software that goes into a Linux distribution is already shared. But in the past, such alliances haven't amounted to much.
One prominent example is UnitedLinux in 2002, which pooled the resources of Suse Linux (before Novell acquired it four years ago), Turbolinux (which earlier had aspirations beyond just its current Japanese market focus), Conectiva (which merged with Mandrake to become Mandriva), and The SCO Group (which previously had been named Caldera before it switched from selling Linux to selling Unix and suing Linux advocates). But the effort to provide a collective counterbalance to Red Hat's dominance fell apart, and the UnitedLinux lights went out in 2004.
Then there was the Linux Core Consortium in 2004, which was essentially UnitedLinux reconstituted without Suse and with another company, Progeny Linux. It also didn't amount to much.
More recently, several allies whose products were based on the Debian Linux distribution also tried banding together as the Debian Common Core (DCC) Alliance. Other members of that group included now-defunct Progeny Linux, Knoppix, Xandros, Linspire, Mepis, Credativ, GnuLinEx, Sun Wah, and User Linux.