[fdn-ann] Merc stories/press briefing stategy
- From: "Cecile Roux" <croux chenpr com>
- To: Foundation-announcement gnome org
- Cc: Brett smith <brett smith Sun COM>
- Subject: [fdn-ann] Merc stories/press briefing stategy
- Date: Mon, 14 Aug 2000 09:29:20 -0700
In addition to the NYT and CNet stories I forwarded earlier, here are 2
stories from the Merc that mentions GNOME.
I know that some of you are starting to receive calls from their beat
reporters to schedule interviews and get more details. As of now, we are
holding giving out more info till Tuesday for the trades. If someone from
the business press wants to do a story, we can work with them today.
Please, contact Barb and myself if you get any requests from press people.
You can reach us on my cell phone at 415-244-6897.
Thanks and best regards,
2 San Jose Mercury News Story
VA Linux to unveil build-to-order software model
Effort would put company in position to carve new role
BY THERESE POLETTI Mercury News
Among the many product announcements at LinuxWorld in San Jose this week,
one that stands out is a move by VA Linux Systems Inc. to differentiate
itself from the bigger guns in the computer hardware business.
VA plans to announce that it will offer software on a build-to-order model
when it sells its computer systems that are optimized to run Linux.
``We will do for software what Dell has done for hardware,'' Larry
Augustin, chief executive of VA, said in an interview at its offices, where
stuffed, plastic and crystal penguins, the Linux mascot, adorn many an
engineer's cubicle along with yellow crime-scene tape declaring the area a
Augustin said that 90 percent of VA's customers re-install and re-configure
the different open source software and Linux options on their servers. With
VA's build-to-order software, customers can choose from over 700 optional
software packages, installed at the factory, and two choices of Linux, Red
Hat or Debian, at no extra charge.
``In some ways, we think it saves money, and it's easier for us to
support,'' Augustin said.
While still unprofitable, VA is exploding in size and is bursting at the
seams of its Sunnyvale offices, where some people are now working in
conference rooms until the company moves to bigger offices in Fremont. The
company has grown to over 400 employees since its purchase of Andover.Net.
``There has been this question on how is VA going to compete against Dell,
because Dell is a volume provider,'' said Stacey Quandt, an analyst at Giga
Information Group. ``This solution is the way they are addressing that
issue. Because it's open source there is a high degree of customization
that is possible that is impossible with a proprietary operating system.''
Other companies will unveil products to show how Linux is getting more and
more powerful on the server side, with so-called clustering hardware and
software, to make Linux more reliable for transaction servers, where the
system must not crash. TurboLinux Inc., Mission Critical Linux and Red Hat
Inc. will be demonstrating products, such as Red Hat's High Availability
But as Linux makes progress on the server side, its penetration is scarcely
noticeable on the desktop, apart from the hardcore Linux devotees who can
work with the unwieldy operating system, which is still user un-friendly.
Some companies and open source projects, however, are hoping to change
that. Mountain View-based Eazel Inc., which includes three members of the
original Macintosh development team among its top managers, wants to make
Linux easy enough for average computer users.
Eazel is working on a file manager that integrates file management, Web
browsing and system management with the GNOME desktop, a big open source
project that has created a point-and-click interface for Linux. Eazel will
be showing its file manager, called Nautilus, at Linux World, which will be
the default file manager for GNOME 2.0 and available in the fourth quarter.
``I'd like to see my mom using Linux in a year or less from now,'' said
Eazel Chief Executive Mike Boich. Eazel plans to make money, he said, by
selling maintenance, installation, remote file storage and file sharing
Another company, Helix Code Inc., founded last November by the leader of
the GNOME project, Mexican programmer Miguel de Icaza and Nat Friedman, is
working on desktop applications, such as the Gnumeric spreadsheet and
Evolution, which it calls an ``Outlook killer,'' referring to Microsoft's
popular e-mail and calendar program. International Business Machines Corp.
will announce Tuesday that it will offer Helix Gnome, a special
distribution of GNOME, on its laptops.
The GNOME Project is also announcing a big initiative with major companies
like Compaq Computer Corp., IBM, Sun Microsystems Inc., and Linux firms
like Red Hat, VA, Eazel and Helix Code, to establish GNOME as a framework
for next-generation Internet access devices and to add the applications
such as Star Office into the GNOME Office project.
Linux continues to pop up in other unexpected places, such as handheld
devices to access the Internet, because of the big support Linux has among
many open source developers. IBM, for example, will demonstrate a prototype
Linux smart watch, which can communicate wirelessly with PCs, cell phones
and other wireless devices.
One bold start-up company is even developing a video game console around
Linux. Indrema Corp. is working on a console that will run Linux, targeted
for launch sometime next year. It's a risky venture, as it will be fighting
for attention with the Sony Corp.'s new PlayStation2 and eventually
Microsoft Corp.'s X-Box and Nintendo Co.'s new system, code-named the Dolphin.
``It's a huge thing for the Linux community,'' said John Gildred, chief
executive and founder of Alameda-based Indrema. ``We are providing a gaming
console that leverages all the advantages of open source development.''
Gildred said he has no aspirations right now of directly competing with the
giants in video gaming. The Indrema Entertainment System's software can be
upgraded over the Internet, as open source developers and gamers make
The next step for Linux
Can it move out of the back room and onto the desktop?
BY CECILIA KANG AND THERESE POLETTI Mercury News
A young high-tech company goes public and instantly makes its employees
multi-millionaires. Then, just as quickly, those fortunes turn to dust as
skittish investors turn their backs on the company and others like it.
The story -- all too common for dot-coms -- illustrates the painful
roller-coaster ride also felt by one of the most hyped technologies of the
last 12 months: Linux software.
At this week's LinuxWorld Conference & Expo at the San Jose McEnery
Convention Center, Linux executives and analysts will preach that the open
source operating system is still alive and kicking, even if the hype is
``Linux is cropping up in so many places, and the end user never really
knows it,'' said Dan Kusnetzky, a vice president at research firm
International Data Corp. in Framingham, Mass.
Still, Linux faces big obstacles. The niche software program needs to move
from the back rooms of corporations -- where it runs on Web and e-mail
servers -- to desktop computers, a market dominated by Microsoft Corp.'s
various Windows operating systems.
With a clumsy user interface and few applications for the desktop, Linux is
fighting an uphill battle to get onto the personal computers in homes and
offices, analysts say.
And with investor patience running thin, the biggest challenge is for the
companies that sprouted up around the free operating system to start making
Linus Torvalds created the core, or kernel, of Linux as a University of
Helsinki student in Finland in 1991. Torvalds envisioned the operating
system as a simpler variant of the popular Unix operating system that runs
on high-end servers and scientific workstations.
Available for free
Torvalds made the source code available for free over the Internet, and a
grassroots community gradually developed around the software, as users
shared their updates and improvements with everyone else.
The model, known as ``open source,'' has been hugely popular with
programmers. Developers tout Linux for its low cost, reliability and
flexibility -- it can be stripped down for the smallest devices, such as
mobile phones, or expanded to run powerful servers. And because the code is
open to anyone, developers can easily customize the software.
The most optimistic Linux proponents see the software as one day displacing
Microsoft from its perch on PCs and low-end servers. Enthusiastic investors
sent stocks of Linux-related companies to the stratosphere last year.
Then the reality set in: the open source model makes it difficult for Linux
companies to make money off the software, even as it is rising in
popularity among technicians at Fortune 500 firms.
Kusnetzky said that companies marketing Linux don't make money directly
selling the software, which can be downloaded for free from the Internet.
Instead, the Linux vendors sell services, hardware and applications that
take advantage of Linux's features.
``You can think of it like how Gillette sells razors. They give the handles
away for free and charge for the razor blades,'' said Kusnetzky.
``The business has gone away from Linux itself . . . to what applications
are running on Linux,'' added Bill Claybrook, an analyst at the Aberdeen
Group in Boston.
Last year, euphoria reigned at LinuxWorld in San Jose amid the Wall Street
debut of Red Hat Inc., the largest distributor of the Linux operating
system. Most of the booth exhibitors -- some wearing T-shirts with Linux's
official mascot, Tux the penguin -- had stock quotes up on their screens as
they watched Red Hat's shares surge 286 percent on their first day of trading.
And six months ago in New York, VA Linux Systems Inc. was the convention
darling as it used its super-charged stock price to buy Andover.Net, the
operator of Linux-related Web sites.
Like dot-coms, Linux companies were seen as the Next Big Thing, a
technology that could take down mighty Microsoft.
But what a difference a year makes. Dragged down by the overall selloff in
technology stocks and investors' impatience with unprofitable Linux
companies, Red Hat's stock has fallen 86 percent to $20.06 from its 52-week
high of $143.13. VA Linux, which climbed 708 percent from its $30 IPO price
on its first day of trading, has dropped 83 percent from that peak to $40.
Shares of Caldera Systems Inc., Cobalt Networks Inc. and other
Linux-related stocks are also far below their astronomical highs. Linuxcare
Inc., a provider of Linux services, shelved its plans to go public, after
abruptly firing its chief executive, Fernand Sarrat. Linuxcare and
TurboLinux Inc. have recently laid off workers as they try to rein in their
Industry executives said that the initial stock valuations were, like the
dot-com stocks, an indication that a major change was taking place in the
``The initial enormous valuations showed that people knew this was going to
be important, but they didn't know how to value it,'' said Mike Boich,
chief executive of Eazel Inc., a Mountain View start-up that is trying to
make Linux easier to use on desktop computers.
This week's conference will focus less on stocks and business models and
more on new products. From wristwatches to supercomputers, companies will
show the 17,000 attendees the products they've only talked about in the
Eazel, which is working on a better user interface, is one of several
start-ups trying to push Linux onto the desktop. Helix Code, co-founded by
Mexican programmer Miguel de Icaza, is working on desktop applications such
as an e-mail program. De Icaza is known for founding the GNOME Project,
which created a point-and-click interface for Linux.
Linux hasn't reached desktops in homes and offices because it is still too
hard for average people to use and there aren't many applications written
for the software platform.
Troubled Ottawa-based Corel Corp. has made an enormous bet on Linux,
marketing its WordPerfect office suite for the platform. America Online
Inc.'s Netscape unit has made a Linux version of its browser, and Sun
Microsystems Inc. has a Linux version of its Star Office suite of word
processing, spreadsheet and presentation applications.
At this week's conference, companies will showcase more applications for
desktop users, but the number of applications still fall far short of the
applications for Windows.
Linux is also getting some powerful support from computer makers.
International Business Machines Corp., Dell Computer Corp. and Compaq
Computer Corp. have endorsed Linux or offer it as an option on their systems.
Even rival Microsoft underscored the potential importance of Linux in its
antitrust trial, arguing that Linux was a viable threat to its Windows
Analysts say that on Web and e-mail servers, Linux is growing faster than
``Customers are demanding it,'' said Robert LaBlanc, head of IBM's software
Indeed, sales of servers running Linux shot past Novell Inc.'s NetWare in
1999 to become the No. 2 server operating system, behind Microsoft's
Windows NT, according to IDC. Over the next four years, the research firm
expects Linux shipments to grow 28 percent annually, to 4.7 million units
in 2004, up from 1.3 million in 1999.
That growth means opportunities for hardware companies like IBM. ``Linux
will create a groundswell for hardware, software and services, and we have
an opportunity to make money in that space,'' LaBlanc said.
Following in IBM's footsteps, Hewlett-Packard Co. plans to announce this
week a big push to promote Linux, making it one of HP's strategic operating
systems for its customers, along with Windows 2000 and HP's version of Unix.
``It's not a small thing,'' said David Sifry, co-founder and chief
technology officer of Linuxcare, which is working with HP, and many other
hardware companies. ``I would equate this on a similar magnitude to what
IBM is doing.'' Linuxcare, based in San Francisco, recently closed a $30
million third round of venture funding after scrapping its IPO plans.
Other Linux companies continue to push ahead, despite stock losses. More
start-ups continue to be formed and more customers are converting to Linux.
Larry Augustin, founder and chief executive of system and software
developer VA Linux, said Linux itself has not been hurt by a general
downturn in the stock market.
``There is still tremendous acceptance of Linux. There are still a
tremendous number of users,'' he said.
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