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Representatives of SuSE Linux, Turbolinux, The SCO Group and Conectiva introduced the system at the Comdex trade show yesterday.
Each of the software makers plans to ship server operating systems that are largely based on UnitedLinux 1.0 within the next two months. Each version will include three common UnitedLinux 1.0 installation discs, according to executives from SuSE and Turbolinux. A fourth installation disc from each vendor will include features and software unique to the respective products.
"We originally thought that our product would be 70% UnitedLinux and 30% SuSE, but that has changed," said Holger Dyroff, director of North American sales for SuSE. The end result of its server operating system release is 95% UnitedLinux and 5% SuSE.
Turbolinux is holding off until next week to detail the availability of its server product, Turbolinux Enterprise Server 8. It did disclose that the software would become available to customers in Asia in December. The differences between its product and those from the other three UnitedLinux vendors "will be very minor", said Fumiko Doi, director of corporate marketing for Turbolinux.
The company, which claims to have more than 500,000 customers using previous versions of its server operating system, has customised its product by adding additional support for Asian language character fonts, including Japanese, Chinese and Korean.
While such support is already in the UnitedLinux 1.0 core, Doi said the extra support would make characters clearer and easier to read. The company did not disclose pricing.
SuSE announced the SuSE Enterprise Server 8 yesterday, priced at $749 (£477) including one year's maintenance. It is differentiating its product with a graphics tool called Yet Another Setup Tool (YAST), which aims to help users install, configure and update their server systems.
SuSE Enterprise Server 8 will be available next month for six hardware platforms. These include Intel's 32-bit and Itanium family of chips, Advanced Micro Devices' forthcoming Opteron chip and IBM's midrange and mainframe servers.
SuSE also detailed the Linux Open Exchange Server, a collaboration and groupware product that aims to take the place of Microsoft's Exchange server software. Available on next week, it targets small and medium-sized businesses with 10 to 500 users.
SCO, formerly Caldera International, unveiled SCO Linux Server 4.0, which is based on UnitedLinux 1.0. It is priced in the range of $599 to $2,199 depending on the level of support required by a customer.
Details on products from Conectiva were not immediately available.
Rick Becker, HP's software chief technology officer and Linux division vice-president, pledged that HP would certify its entire line of hardware for the operating system. He also noted that the concept of the four-member consortium would ease the development process for independent software vendors (ISVs).
Oracle, Linux software vendor Ximian and Computer Associates International each announced that they would support the operating system base in time.
Steve Solazzo, general manager of IBM's Linux division, echoed Becker's comments. "This allows an ISV to write an application once and certify it to a single code base," he said.