Caldera deal provides ammunition against Red Hat

The company signs a deal with Acrylis, a Linux services company, to give it features comparable to those of the rival Red Hat Network.

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Stephen Shankland
3 min read
NEW YORK--Caldera Systems has signed a deal with Acrylis, a Linux services company, to give it features comparable to those of the rival Red Hat Network.

The companies signed the deal earlier this week, Caldera Chief Executive Ransom Love said in an interview at the LinuxWorld Conference and Expo in New York. The Acrylis software will be tied in to work with Orem, Utah-based Caldera's recently released Volution management and computer monitoring software.

The new service will be available in the second quarter of this year, Love said.

Acrylis, based in Chelmsford, Mass., has a software tool called WhatIfLinux, now an open-source project but originally a Seagate software package known as AppControl. The program allows an administrator to update the software on a Linux machine connected over the network.

Networked system management services are all the rage among Linux companies. Red Hat, the top seller of Linux, was first out of the gate with its Red Hat Network, which the company is promoting heavily. Linuxcare, which is a likely future acquisition of Turbolinux, has its own managed services. And Eazel has tied its services in with the Red Hat Network.

The services, typically offered as a subscription, provide a way for Linux companies to extract more revenue from business customers. That's a key part of most Linux companies' business plans, which hinge on finding a way to make money off an operating system that's available for free or very low cost.

One difference between the services from Caldera Systems and Red Hat is that Caldera's is designed to be offered as a re-branded product sold by companies that resell Caldera or Santa Cruz Operations software. In other words, Caldera won't be the only one that hopes to profit from the management services.

But Red Hat Chairman Bob Young indicated that his company's plans might change. Red Hat is open to the possibility of letting other companies pay to offer their own services based on the Red Hat Network, Young said in an interview.

Caldera is in the midst of a drawn-out acquisition of the operating system software of the Santa Cruz Operation, which sells the OpenServer and UnixWare versions of Unix. The two companies have gotten as far as merging their support operations but still are working with the Securities and Exchange Commission on the details of the merger, Love said.

"We're ready," said Dave McCrab, president of SCO's server software division.

The combination of Caldera Systems' Linux products and SCO's Unix software puts Love in the position--unusual for a Linux executive--of discussing the weaknesses of Linux on high-end systems with multiple CPUs. Caldera has a financial stake in this argument; the company is modifying SCO software so it can run Linux software unchanged.

Caldera believes UnixWare is better-suited to these high-end environments. McCrab said that after years of tuning, Unixware 7 shows more than double the performance of Linux running Linux software on high-end systems.

The ability to run Linux software on SCO Unix will be ready in test form this March, with the final product available before midyear, McCrab said.