Linux with a difference

Linux with a difference

In the past six months Caldera has made a number of moves to further strengthen its position as one of the leaders in the Linux for business sector.

Caldera has always positioned itself as the “Linux for business” company and unlike many Linux vendors has never taken the approach of simply bundling a whole bunch of Open Source applications along with the Linux operating system and selling it as a “distribution”. At the same time Caldera has never positioned itself as only making money from services and training (although it offers both), but from licensing software in much same way that Microsoft does, albeit it at a much lower price and still in keeping with the Open Source philosophy, wherein the source code usually ships with the compiled binaries.

In the past six months Caldera has made a number of moves to further strengthen its position as one of the leaders in the Linux for business sector, aided in part by its acquisition of SCO Unix last year, coupled with the release of two products in its Volution line — Caldera Volution Manager and Caldera Volution Messaging Server.

Volution Manager is a Web-based management and administration system that supports all the more popular versions of Linux, and is primarily designed to help system administrators more easily scale their existing resources, and roll out web services and other deployments more cost-effectively.

Some of the new features include the ability to manage multiple platforms from one interface, a network install option that simplifies reviews, evaluations and deployments, a status and diagnostics features to reduce troubleshooting time, and tighter integration with Volution Online, which provides an Internet-based software management service. Caldera expect to ships an extended version that also supports Windows later this year.

Caldera’s Volution Messaging Server is the Linux equivalent of Microsoft’s Exchange Server and includes support for Outlook, Outlook Express and a number of other popular email clients. It also supports popular antivirus, back-up and fax server software and can run either on Caldera’s OpenLinux Server or on Open Unix platforms. Chuck this on a Linux server and you can lose Exchange and save a bundle in the process.

Caldera also recently released upgraded versions (v 3.1.1) of OpenLinux Server and OpenLinux Workstation. Both versions feature version 2.4.13 of the Linux kernel, support for the KDE 2.2.1 graphical interface and improved support for working with Caldera’s Volution Messaging Server and Volution Manager 1.1

The OpenLinux Server includes 60 days of email installation support and six months of Volution Online software maintenance priced at around $700. The Workstation version also includes 60 days of email installation support and 60 days of Volution Online maintenance for about $250 — per machine. Unlike other Linux suppliers Caldera is now licencing software on a per machine basis rather than unlimited use. Caldera says this is more realistic and allows it to provide professional quality software and in some cases limited edition versions of commercial packages within the Caldera offering.

Caldera is generally more conservative than many other Linux companies, preferring to spend time optimising its software and ensuring that it is fully “self-hosting”. This is essentially the ability to recompile from the source code and ensure the binary code is compatible with the system libraries and the compiler itself. Caldera claims this offers significant performance increases compared to competing Linux distributions. Caldera says it is also cognisant of the fact that business users, unlike enthusiasts, don’t want the “latest and greatest” patches every couple of days but want a stable, high-performance environment — which is kind of hard to argue with.

The latest release of OpenLinux Workstation includes Sun’s Forte Java development environment, Borland’s JBuilder Foundation Java IDE and Kylix 1.0 Open edition, in addition to the usual development tools that ship with Linux. Caldera’s strategy behind this is to provide what is essentially a low-cost environment for developers, who can create applications that can then run on OpenLinux or Open Unix 8.0 production servers. (Open Unix 8.0 includes the Linux Kernel Personality that allows Linux apps to run natively on Open Unix systems.)

Ransom Love, president and CEO of Caldera, is speaking at a forum in Sydney at the beginning of June, outlining Caldera’s Unix and Linux business strategy — including web services and a new business initiative, so watch this space for an update.

Further information:

Caldera is distributed in New Zealand by MPA and Base 10.

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