At LinuxWorld Conference & Expo in San Francisco last week, the Debian Common Core Alliance announced its formation to foster an enterprise-ready Debian Linux distribution.
This move by Debian companies and nonprofit organizations credativ GmbH (site in German), Knoppix, LinEx (site in Spanish), Linspire, MEPIS LLC, Progeny Linux Systems Inc., Sun Wah Linux Ltd., UserLinux and Xandros Inc. had been expected for months.
The initial release from the DCCA (Debian Common Core Alliance) organization will be the Debian Common Core.
This operating system will be based on Debian 3.1, aka Sarge, and certified to LSB 3.0. It is expected to arrive in September.
This common core will be the basis for future releases of each members Linux distribution.
It will not, however, be a distribution in and of itself.
Instead, the Common Core will be a “base” Debian system composed of essential programs or “packages” from Debian Linux, combined with member additions to attain LSB certification and achieve broad commercial acceptance and support.
DCCA members will draw from a single software repository with a common set of enhancements, fixes and security updates.
After that, each DCCA member will decide what further components to add to its particular certified distribution.
With this one standard set of components, third-party application providers will be able to write software for all DCC-based Linux.
At the same time DCCA members will have the flexibility to add value for their target markets.
The DCCA will work in conjunction with Debian, the Free Standards Group and its LSB workgroup, and other industry projects. All DCC enhancements will be contributed to the general Debian community.
The group is also open to new members. Any organization, commercial or nonprofit, with an interest in a strong Debian platform can join.
In addition, the DCC Alliance will serve as a single point of contact for software and hardware vendors who want to ensure that their products will work with Debian.
“Debian GNU/Linux already enjoys worldwide acceptance, and by aligning around a common core, we make Debian more viable in the commercial world,” said Ian Murdock, Debian founder, founder of Progeny, and leader of the DCC Alliance.
Following the DCCAs launch, Murdock has also been seeking Series B funding for Progeny.
This funding will be used to fuel Progenys growth. Murdock hopes that the $5 million to $10 million in funding, combined with support for the DCCA, will help both his company in particular and all Debian-based Linux companies in general.
“Ive talked to a huge number of companies over the years that tell me their customers ask about Debian, but that they dont know how to respond because they cant figure out how to support it.
“The DCC finally gives them a way to do that. Through the combined strength of its members the Alliance will fill in the gaps—such as LSB compliance—necessary to attract major industry partners and propel Debian to its rightful place in the enterprise space.”
Debian, which turned 12 years old Tuesday, has long been popular with users, but the lack of a single powerful company or organization behind it has hindered its commercial acceptance.
“The Free Standards Group is pleased that the DCC Alliance is using the Linux Standard Base as a foundation of its offering,” said Jim Zemlin, executive director of the Free Standards Group, in a statement.
“The alliances strategy of having ISVs certify to the LSB will make it easier for ISVs to target the Linux platform and further reduce their service and support costs. The Debian Common Core strengthens the Linux industry as a whole,” said Zemlin.
But, will the DCCA be able to compete in the Linux industry?
Analysts at the Butler Group say they think that the Debian group may have an uphill slog ahead of it.
“Despite the commercial benefits promised by increased standardization, previous vendor-led standardization efforts, such as UnitedLinux and the Linux Core Consortium, have tried before [with little success.]”
Besides having to compete with Red Hat Inc. and Novell Inc., “Mandriva is currently trying to mount its own challenge to Red Hat and Novell following the combination of Mandrakesoft, Conectiva, and Lycoris into the new company, and Mandriva has already stated that it has no plans to move to a Debian-based distribution from its various RPM-based products,” said the Butler analysts.
Still, “whilst potentially problematic given the preference of ISVs and IHVs for fewer platforms to support, [the DCCAs enterprise goals] could be achievable given the existing popularity of Debian distributions.”