Sources close to Mandriva, Progeny and Turbolinux say the trio of companies will be announcing a new enterprise Linux distribution based on Debian Linux at the LinuxWorld event in San Francisco in August.
This new enterprise distribution, which may include other companies as well, will be built on the foundation of the Debian 3.1 “Sarge” Linux distribution.
While based on “Sarge,” the new distribution is said to include compatibility with Red Hats RHEL (Red Hat Enterprise Linux). Specifically, this new server will be able to work with RPM (Red Hat Package Management) software packages, commonly used in RHEL, as well as with Debians DEB (Debian Package).
Packages are file collections with instructions on how to install or update programs. Theyre often used in Linux to make software installation, upgrading and managing easier.
According to one vendor whos close to the project, “the idea is to use with a [software] repository, so administrators and developers could use apt-get [Advanced Package Tool, the program Debian uses for software distribution] and all that stuff.”
“Basically the objective is to produce a distro that can act like Debian, use the Debian repository, but any Red Hat engineer should be comfortable with it,” the vendor said.
“It will have a nice, Web-based front end for service management, which Sarge lacks,” the vendor added. “Its basically oriented toward edge-of-the-network type applications, such as ISP software.”
The trio of companies is also said to be looking for other Linux partners. In particular, companies such as Xandros Inc. that already use Debian as the basis for their distributions are said to be being approached.
The new server also will be built around LSB (Linux Standard Base) 2.
All of the involved companies had previously joined together to support the LSB 2 in the LCC (Linux Core Consortium).
This is not the first time that Linux vendors have tried to pull together to create a common distribution. In 2002, UnitedLinux brought together SuSE, Caldera (now The SCO Group Inc.), Conectiva S.A (now part of Mandriva) and Turbolinux. But the UnitedLinux alliance fell apart when SCO turned against Linux.
Ransom Love, co-founder of Caldera and the catalyst behind the creation of UnitedLinux, today is a director at Progeny.
Ian Murdock, founder of both Progeny and the Debian distribution, as well as CEO of Progeny, would neither confirm nor deny the story.
Murdock did say, however, that the plan as outlined “makes eminent sense, doesnt it?”
When pressed, Murdock went on: “For the LCC to be successful, we have to convince the multitude of regional/custom distros to unite around a common core, because it is the collective power of these smaller distros that make them a force to be reckoned with.”
Therefore, Murdock said, “Given that the majority of these distros are based on Debian, the LCC needs a strong Debian story to get many of them onboard and, by extension, to be successful.”
“I guess the real question is whether the world needs another RPM-based distro with Debian support sort of stuck on the side, or whether it makes more sense to take Debian, which already has global reach, and seek to make it more compatible with the current market leaders by focusing on LSB compliance and RPM compatibility.
“Such a thing might finally result in a viable LSB reference implementation, too, leading to a virtuous circle that benefits all Linux standards,” Murdock said.
Mandriva and Turbolinux did not respond to requests for comments.