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Caldera gave a robust defence of its decision to adopt per-system licensing for its new Workstation Linux distribution today, adding that it placed the company midway between Red Hat and Microsoft in the ideological debate about free software.

"It was absolutely deliberate and on purpose," Eric Hughes, Caldera's director of product management told us.

He rejected the accusation that Caldera was adopting Microsoft style pricing, and pointed out that developers could still download the workstation product for free. And unlike Microsoft, there was no membership fee for this privilege.

Caldera lost $900,000 per week net last quarter, and Hughes justifies the licensing fee on the grounds that customers want to know the company will be in a shape to stick around.

"We are in business to make money ... listening to our customers, they want a global and viable company," said Hughes. "Developers need to have a company that is there that is going to be there for the long-term. "

"We're squarely in the middle," he said, referring to the public positions taken up by Microsoft and Red Hat recently. "It's not a Microsoft style server access license, but a simple per system license. And we don't have to necessarily put in our financial statements that our business model is yet to be proven unsuccessful."

Caldera had received many requests that it continue free downloads, many of which had come from freeloaders. "That's when you find your customers aren't really your customers," said Hughes.

As for the long-term viability of Caldera, Hughes said the company's use of a reseller channel for providing services didn't necessarily put it at a disadvantage. Caldera's acquisition of SCO's professional services team meant it could deal with the higher margin, bigger contracts by itself, he told us. ®

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