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United we stand

The first UnitedLinux distributions hit the market.

The first products from the UnitedLinux effort hit the market with a bang. UnitedLinux brings together the SCO Group (formerly Caldera), Conectiva S.A. (large in Latin America), SuSE (large in Europe), and TurboLinux (large in Asia).

With the recent releases, UnitedLinux has gone from being a consortium that talks about Linux unification to one that’s shipping products. Each vendor sells its own products using the UnitedLinux base and features provided by the other vendors to help differentiate their wares.

SuSE released SuSE Linux Enterprise Server 8, a Linux server product, and SuSE Linux Openexchange Server, which provides Linux server software with e-mail, scheduling, and groupware capabilities. From the name Openexchange, you can tell SuSE designed this product to compete with Windows and Exchange.

The Openexchange Server supports Microsoft Outlook, Outlook Express, Netscape, and Eudora mail programs to hit the majority of the market. Ximian Evolution, KMail, and even pine are also supported. Pretty much any IMAP or POP3 mail program should work, with IMAP needed for more advanced features.

SuSE markets Openexchange Server as providing a lower cost of ownership, with savings up to 63 percent for 500 users compared with Microsoft Exchange. The numbers are believable, but more important is the ability to support Outlook running on Windows. This allows an organization to switch the backend server with user desktops still running familiar Windows applications.

In addition, SuSE spent a lot of effort to make a nice clean configurable interface on top of the various applications that SuSE combines into the product. This is important because most of these applications have been around for some time. The key issue for SuSE lies in bringing the disparate applications together.

The SCO Group released SCO Linux Server 4, the follow-on to the Caldera OpenLinux product line. Also a server release, SCO aims their offering against RISC-based UNIX systems such as those from Sun Microsystems, and also against Windows servers. SCO aims to replace Windows solutions for file and print servers, network logon services and NT4 domain control, firewalls, and virtual private networks, and back-end SQL databases.

Like SuSE, SCO offers a product to replace Microsoft’s Exchange, called Volution Messaging Server. And, like SuSE, SCO claims the benefits of a lower total cost of ownership (TCO), reduced costs for implementing network services, higher reliability, and much friendlier licensing policies.

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