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UnitedLinux moves closer to OS goal

The four-company effort to create a standard version of Linux sets a release date for a test version of its code and taps a top exec to spread the UnitedLinux word.

UnitedLinux, a combined effort to create a uniform version of Linux for businesses, on Wednesday named a top executive and said it will ship a test version of its code later this month.

The UnitedLinux organization, which consists of Turbolinux and the SCO Group (formerly Caldera International) in the United States, Conectiva in Brazil, and SuSE in Germany , plans to create a uniform version of the Linux operating system for corporations.

The organization named Paula Hunter, a former marketing executive with software maker Xevo and at Compaq Computer, as worldwide general manager. Hunter has the task of driving UnitedLinux's popularity with big companies, and increasing the organization's membership.

The organization said a test version of its software will be available for free download from its Web site on Sept. 23. The UnitedLinux distribution is based on SuSE's Enterprise Server (SLES) product. Version 1.0 of the distribution is expected in November.

UnitedLinux is widely viewed as an effort by second-tier Linux companies to gain the critical mass held by Linux leader Red Hat, but industry watchers are skeptical it will triumph.

The UnitedLinux companies banded together to share research costs and to make it easier for software and hardware companies to certify that their products work with Linux.

The UnitedLinux name is something of a misnomer because the group conspicuously neglected to invite Red Hat until the day before its announcement, and few expect the Raleigh, N.C., company to sign on. Also missing are MandrakeSoft, whose software is used on PCs and higher-powered servers, and Sun Microsystems, which has announced a deal with Red Hat.

News.com's Stephen Shankland contributed to this report.