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Becomes division of SRA

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ComputerWire: IT Industry Intelligence

Turbolinux Inc has become the latest company to exit the Linux business after selling its Linux distribution interests to Japanese software house Software Research Associates Inc. The company has retained its proprietary PowerCockpit server provisioning software, around which it is planning to launch a new company name and business model.

Turbolinux will now become a division of Tokyo, Japan-based SRA, transfer its headquarters from Brisbane, California to the Japanese capital, and continue to operate under the Turbolinux name. Financial details of the deal have not been disclosed.

Meanwhile, the PowerCockpit server provisioning business continues under the management of CEO Ly-Huong Pham, but has yet to decide on a new name. Pham said that the formation and launch of the new server provisioning company would be announced over the coming weeks.

A cross-platform tool for the provisioning and management of large server farms, PowerCockpit is a proprietary product that has been licensed to Hewlett-Packard Co for use with both its HP Blade Server products and Compaq ProLiant BL server blades, as well as Egenera Inc, for use on its BladeFrame servers. PowerCockpit supports Microsoft Corp's Windows 2000 and Windows XP Pro as well as the Turbolinux, Red Hat, SuSE and Debian Linux distributions.

Founded in 1967, SRA is one of Japan's oldest software houses, with interests in customer software and systems development, with a specific focus on Java, Linux, networking and systems management. SRA says Turbolinux will continue to operate a US office, and is aiming to strengthen its position as the top Linux distributor in Asia.

SRA has appointed the former president of Turbolinux Japan, Koichi Yano, as president and COO of the new Turbolinux, while Hajime Watanabe has been appointed CEO. SRA said that the company will continue to support all worldwide customers, and to maintain its commitment to the UnitedLinux initiative to create a single Linux distribution. Turbolinux was a UnitedLinux founder, along with Caldera International Inc, SuSE Linux AG and Conectiva SA.

The sale of the Linux distribution business marks the end of a tumultuous period for Turbolinux. Rumors began circulating last month that the company's US operations were in a state of near-collapse after the company failed to land a fourth round of financing. No one was answering the phone at the company's US office, and it is believed that the US operation is down to a skeleton staff.

Since the company was formed in 1992 it has eaten through $100m in three rounds of funding, but failed to make a substantial dent in the US market, which is dominated by Red Hat Inc. It still claims to be the number-one vendor in the Asia-Pacific region, however, which was responsible for 34% of all new Linux shipments in 2001, according to recent figures from IDC.

In January 2001 the company announced that it was to acquire Linux services vendor LinuxCare Inc to boost its services portfolio and in March 2001 it canceled a planned IPO, citing difficult market conditions and the changed proposition of the merged company. However, after three months of working together as a combined entity, Turbolinux and Linuxcare called off the merger at the very last minute, with both sides citing differing goals and the effects of the market downturn.

After a quiet period, Linuxcare announced its return at last week's LinuxWorld Conference and Expo with a new strategy based on proprietary server provisioning software for Linux on the mainframe. Ironically, the complementary nature of Linuxcare's Levanta and the PowerCockpit products probably now makes the two companies a better merger fit than they were last year.

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