Deuces are wild in the technology business. Today, there are two emerging Internet software platforms: Java and .NET. And, legacy platforms aside, there are two OSs competing for development of new applications: Windows and UNIX. Years ago, when UNIX tried consolidating, there existed for a while two general flavors of UNIX.
Now, add to that two flavors of Linux. In an announcement that was over six months in the offing, four distributors of LinuxCaldera, Conectiva, SuSE, and Turbolinuxunveiled UnitedLinux, an initiative that will standardize the basic kernel based on features approved by the Free Standards Group, a nonprofit organization of open source Linux developers. For now, UnitedLinux will focus solely on server, rather than client-side Linux.
In practical terms, each UnitedLinux vendor will issue a standard kernel CD, plus separate CDs for their own tools. Theoretically, customers could mix and match Linux vendor-specific tools to any compliant kernel distribution.
For the gang of four founders, converging kernel development efforts make sense since there is little money to be made selling something thatís already available for free download. The real business in Linux isn’t Linux itself, but the support, applications, and appliances that surround it.
But a major fly in the ointment is that group founders, which represent the dominant players in Europe, South America, and the Pacific Rim, left out the big name in North America: Red Hat. Whatever the rationale for omission, UnitedLinux doesn’t need the distraction. Just look at WS-I, whose viable work defining web services interoperability criteria is being obscured over the silly soap opera of whether Sun will be allowed in.
In so doing, UnitedLinux members could unwittingly confirm Red Hat’s dominance by isolating them. Which brings us back to those technology deuces. When it comes to Linux, there will be Red Hat and everybody else.