upFRONT

Stop the Presses, LJ Index and more.
Sources
  • 1-2: PRWeek, according to Reuters

  • 3-9: Netcraft, http://www.netcraft.com/

  • 10-15: Linux Weekly News and public financial information sources

  • 16-18: http://www.smartgirl.com/

THE BUZZ

What were people talking about in May and early June? Below is a sampling of some of the hotter news stories over the past few weeks, as reported in “The Rookery”, Linux Journal's on-line source for news, notes, quotes and reports from the field (updated daily and found at our web site, http://www.linuxjournal.com/):

  • Python moves to BeOpen.com, and Guido van Rossum is appointed director of PythonLabs.

  • Gateway and AOL become Transmeta's first big-time customers. Look for a variety of Internet devices running on the Crusoe chip later this year.

  • Google adopting Linux as its operating system of choice.

  • Microsoft being given the OK to tie up the court system in years upon years of appeals, trying to avoid the break up.

  • Loki Entertainment Software releases Descent 3.

  • The European Union looks to be more strict with software patents.

  • Kevin Mitnick being courted as security advisor.

  • Poor Corel!

  • Debian's General Resolution, an amendment to the Debian Social Contract, which hopes to minimize the impact of non-free software on Debian GNU/Linux.

  • Linux being pre-installed on the IBM ThinkPad.

STOP THE PRESSES: InterBase Redux

InterBase 6 is out, and the cross-platform relational database is now officially in the Open Source world. The source code has been released and so has a new company by the same name, created for the purpose of serving the businesses that put InterBase code to use.

The president of the new company is Ann Harrison, who co-founded the original InterBase with Jim Starkey, the product's original creator. Starkey also has a position with the new company as “technology software architectural advisor”. This allows him to work inside the Open Source development community that began growing around InterBase even before the code was released.

Back in January, after Inprise (a.k.a. Borland) promised to open source InterBase, Linux Journal interviewed Inprise CEO Dale Fuller on the subject. That interview drew a record response from readers, most of whom expressed enthusiasm for the move. Since then, interest in InterBase has grown, while both Inprise and InterBase have gone through a number of gyrations.

The intent to spin out a new company was announced in February, around the time Inprise announced plans to merge with Corel. Interest in InterBase grew, while the nascent company labored to craft both a business plan and a licensing strategy. The merger was called off in May, by which time free InterBase binaries were being downloaded at the rate of 3,000 per week (that's more than 50,000 as of late June).

By July, however, the new company was moving forward. “Basically, we're a start-up,” Ann Harrison says. The company is 19% owned by Inprise/Borland's venture fund and expects to grow quickly, along with the adoption curve of Linux in enterprise, which is moving rapidly. “Linux is a phenomenon much like the Internet five years ago, and it's bringing up a lot of the same kind of easy choices,” Harrison says. “People will say, `Why should I bother fighting with the file system and trying to write my own index code? Here's this free database. It just works. Why don't I pick that up and use it?”' Suddenly, it becomes the default way of storing data.

The business model is to sell add-ons and services around the product. These include training, support, documentation and third-party packages such as an ODBC driver, a Java driver and a product for connecting with development tools. The company does not plan to do any development of its own, but instead serve and back InterBase development and deployment, by both the development community and enterprise customers.

Kylix will help. Kylix is the code name for Inprise/Borland's family of visual development tools for Linux, due for release this summer. “We have a lot of tools that work well with Kylix, so when it's released, that will give us another boost,” Harrison says.

The company's goal is not modest. “Some day there will be a popular spreadsheet for Linux desktops, with lots of users in the enterprise. Where will that data live? On InterBase, we expect. Our goal is not to own an organization, but rather to own all the organization's applications, from the standpoint of the data store.”

While InterBase never scored big as a commercial product, it did develop a loyal following over the years starting in 1984, when the company was founded on an idea Jim Starkey had in the shower, and initial capitalization of $243.50. After early success with selling to the UNIX workstation market, the company was sold to Ashton-Tate, which was sold to Borland, which became Inprise (now Inprise/Borland, or vice versa—it's hard to keep the old name down). Restarting the same company with two of the founders is an interesting second-chance story.

InterBase does face competition in the category. PostgreSQL has been open source for many years, and also has a loyal following. And the incumbent relational databases are certainly not going to go away easily.

But Linux is being adopted quite easily by countless enterprises. If InterBase can surf that wave, it should do pretty well.

—Doc Searls

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