"Right now, we own 100% of the company, but we plan to sell some of the stake," said Masatoshi Matsuo, a manager at the company's corporate planning division in Tokyo. "It will be good to have more companies working together on a Linux distribution."
Beyond working with other companies on the Turbolinux distribution, SRA also committed itself to UnitedLinux, a standards-based version of Linux for business use. Turbolinux had announced support for the initiative before its acquisition by SRA.
"Linux is becoming key, even in the enterprise," said Matsuo. "Within one to two years, many companies will be using Linux for business systems and UnitedLinux will stimulate this market."
SRA was attracted to Turbolinux as a way to expand its business in the open-source area, said Matsuo. That business started three years ago when SRA, which had made a name for itself creating programs for big-name clients running mainframe or Unix systems, began offering an open-source graphics multimedia library program called Jun.
Recently SRA began considering its own Linux distribution, but with RedHat and TurboLinux already enjoying strong market share of the domestic market and several other distributions also available, the company decided creating its own flavour of Linux was not a sensible idea. When Turbolinux approached SRA with the idea of being acquired, the company jumped at the chance.
SRA sees the acquisition of Turbolinux as a way to build up expertise and make a name for itself as a strong Linux player as more companies switch to the free operating system.
The popularity of TurboLinux in China and its already strong support for the Chinese language will also bring benefits, says Matsuo. Japanese companies of all types are beating a path to China as they look to lower costs and to expand their geographical reach. Having Turbolinux will mean that SRA has a strong base from which to offer services to these companies.
The acquisition is expected to have an immediate effect on SRA's revenues, said Matsuo. For this fiscal year, which ends on 30 March, SRA expects revenues from its Linux-related business to be ¥2.5bn (£13.5m), which represents an increase of 56% on the ¥1.6bn it reported for the previous year.