Friday May 29, 4:47 pm Eastern Time
Company Press Release
UniForum Association Conference Hosts an Historic Meeting of the Minds
Between Linux Advocates and Unix Branding Organization
COLUMBIA, Md.--(BUSINESS EDITORS)--May 29, 1998--An amazing thing happened
at the UniForum Association's 1998 Spring Conference in Ocean City, Md.
During the unveiling of The Open Group's UNIX 98 specification to an
audience that included leading Open Source advocates, members of the two
groups spontaneously initiated frank, informal negotiations regarding the
conformance of Linux to the UNIX 98 spec.
The Open Group's Director of Branding Graham Bird, Chief Technical Officer
Mike Lambert, and others began detailing UNIX 98 to workshop attendees.
In the audience was Eric Raymond, an outspoken Linux advocate whose paper,
``The Cathedral and the Bazaar'', was influential in Netscape's recent
decision to take make the source code for their Communicator product suite
available to the general public.
About halfway into the workshop, after asking a number of detailed technical
questions, Raymond asked the big one: What's it going to take to get the
UNIX 98 brand for Linux?
Graham Bird quickly responded that The Open Group very much wants to see
Linux get the UNIX 98 brand. A far-ranging discussion ensued, with both
sides agreeing that high-end Unix server vendors will suffer if the low-end
server market is lost to Windows NT.
Additionally, if ISVs face an increasing base of clients with NT platforms,
it's reasonable to expect that they'll consider ports to Unix a lower
priority, and the number of commercial applications available on Unix
platforms could dwindle.
Since the Linux OS is proving to be increasingly stiff competition for NT in
this marketspace, it's in the best interest of all Unix vendors for Linux to
get branded so that it may compete more effectively and keep the low end
The two groups parted with pledgesto continue the dialogue and find a way to
It's going to take some creativity to pull this off. In order to carry the
Unix brand, an OS must purchase and pass rigorous testing suites provided by
The Open Group, and must also pay licensing and royalty fees. Furthermore,
The Open Group holds each branded vendor individually responsible for
continuing to conform to the UNIX 98 spec.
Since Linux is developed and maintained by a large, loose-knit community of
volunteer developers over the Internet, it has no ``vendor'' in the
traditional sense. A number of companies package Linux, with varying
combinations of support, manuals, and proprietary software.
The popularity of Linux has significantly increased in recent years, as it
has matured and become easier to install; most Linux users have found that
the mutual-aid forums on the Internet meet their support needs. Available on
a number of platforms, it's proven to be most popular on inexpensive
Although some IS managers apparently hesitate to commit to a platform with
no large corporation standing behind it, Linux has been showing up in some
Furniture maker Ikea has deployed Linux throughout its European offices, and
a parallel-processing network of over 100 Linux boxes was used to do
graphical rendering for the movie, ``Titanic.'' NASA has been using similar
arrays for years, and Fermi Lab is reportedly planning to build a much
larger ``supercomputer'' in the near future.
Linux developers employ an intriguing method of software development:
release early source code publicly, and use thousands of Internet-based
volunteers to help test it and propose bug fixes and new features. This
methodology, known as ``Open Source,'' results in remarkably fast release
cycles, which have produced a robust OS from scratch in just a few years.
Although it is just now becoming widely acknowledged, development methods
like Open Source have been in use for decades; for example, over one million
Internet servers on the net today serving web pages with Apache, software
that has been developed across the net with source code available for free.
Earlier this year, Eric Raymond detailed the Open Source methodology in his
paper, arguing that it's a superior way to write software. His paper found
its way into the upper reaches of Netscape, where some employees had already
been advocating the concept.
Netscape subsequently decided to use the Open Source model for future
releases of Communicator. Just last week, Corel Computer Corp. also
announced that they will be releasing the source code of the Linux portion
of their NetWinder OS for network computers. Eid Eid, President of Corel
Computer Corp., gave a keynote speech at the UniForum conference on Tuesday,
The freely available Linux OS is technically not Unix, and is properly
described as a Unix-like OS. Since there is no central point of
distribution, its installed base is particularly difficult to estimate. Bob
Young of Red Hat Software, which packages and supports a Linux distribution,
gives a very rough estimate of 5-10 million.
For further information, contact Alan Fedder, President of the UniForum
Association, at: 410/715-9500; or via email at email@example.com.
Alan Fedder, president, 410/715-9500