The Linux platform received a massive wave of support last week when Corel, IBM and Hewlett Packard jumped on the bandwagon and pledged their backing for the operating system.
Corel is mounting a challenge to leading Linux vendors, such as Red Hat and Caldera. At the LinuxWorld conference in San Jose, the Canadian vendor said it would market its own version of Linux. This would make Corel the first mainstream commercial software company to launch its own release.
Michael Cowpland, president and chief executive of Corel, said: 'To make Linux on the desktop happen in a big way, it has to be more like Windows.'
He added that Corel would develop and market an operating system - codenamed Corel Desktop for Linux - that will feature a simplified setup procedure, automatic hardware detection and a Java virtual machine. The user interface will be based on K Desktop Environment (KDE), which is the most popular interface for Linux. The operating system is set to ship in November.
Corel Desktop for Linux will probably ship with the Linux versions of Corel applications. It will also be available as a standalone product or pre-installed on PCs.
Cowpland told PC Dealer that Corel will offer PC manufacturers a bundle consisting of the operating system and applications to go with it. Linux plus the WordPerfect Office suite will sell for about $50.
Meanwhile, IBM expanded its own Linux services, saying it would offer worldwide, round-the-clock support for the Linux versions of Caldera Systems, Pacific HiTech, Red Hat Software and Suse.
Robert LeBlanc, vice president of software strategy for IBM's Software Solutions division, said: 'This is the same level of support we offer other operating systems.'
LeBlanc said the support will begin to be available in the US starting in the second quarter, and the rest of the world later this year.
IBM also released details of its own Linux porting plans. Host On-Demand, a Java-based terminal emulation package, will be available immediately, while Websphere Application Server for Linux, based on the Open Source Apache Webserver, will ship in the second quarter. Around the same time, DB2 Universal Database will be released. On-Demand Server for Linux will begin beta testing in the second quarter.
Hewlett Packard has set up an organisation to co-ordinate its Linux strategy and intends to increase support for the open source operating system across its product line. The hardware supplier plans to support an ongoing, independent effort by The Puffin Group to port Linux to servers based on its PA-Risc processor family, and will provide the initiative with consultancy and equipment, but no funding.
HP also announced plans to release common application programming interfaces, designed to make it easier for developers to port packages between the operating system and its own HP-UX Unix variant, and will add certain Linux APIs to HP-UX.
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