UnitedLinux, RIP

UnitedLinux quietly passed away as SuSE withdrew its support from the Linux consortium, which had SCO as a member.

Without ceremony, fanfare or even an announcement, UnitedLinux, an industry consortium of The SCO Group Inc. (formerly Caldera International Inc.); Conectiva S.A; SuSE Linux (now a division of Novell Inc.); and Turbolinux Inc., which created a single enterprise Linux distribution, has come to an end.

The death announcement came in passing during a Novell press conference, when Richard Seibt, former SuSE Linux CEO and now president of SuSE, said SuSE had stopped being a member months ago, before Novell purchased SuSE. "There is no value in this relationship," he said. "SuSE, however, will work separately with UnitedLinux members Turbolinux and Conectiva."

SuSE made this move because SCO, even as it attacked Linux on several fronts, remained a member of UnitedLinux. This made it impossible, Seibt said, for UnitedLinux to continue its mission of providing a single enterprise server distribution of Linux.

In late 2002, UnitedLinux was hailed as a major step forward in making Linux attractive to enterprises and independent software vendors. It was widely perceived as an alliance of major Linux vendors against dominant Linux distributor Red Hat Inc.

Dan Kusnetzky, International Data Corp.s vice president for system software, however, says it was more than that: UnitedLinux was an attempt by four smaller players to generate enough critical matter to create a world-class Linux product based on sharing engineering and expenses. However, "the majority of the engineering fell to SuSE," he said.

Even so, Kusnetzky said, "over time, UnitedLinux had the impact it wanted. Many significant hardware manufacturers and ISVs did sign on-board with Linux." UnitedLinux also "generated the marketing message that there were two powers in Linux: Red Hat and UnitedLinux."

UnitedLinux though was destined to have a brief effective life. Soon after SCO sued IBM, UnitedLinux stopped doing any real work. The last major move by UnitedLinux came in March 2003 when Oracle Corp. announced support for UnitedLinux.

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