Linux company Xandros has bought Linspire, another open source distributor in a bid to increase its presence in the enterprise, an executive announced.

Xandros, which originally launched in Ottawa but now based in New York, did not disclose what it paid for Linspire, which was founded in 2001 and is headquartered in San Diego, California.

In buying Linspire, Xandos wants to be able to compete head-to-head with rivals Red Hat, Novell, SuSE Linux, and Microsoft, said Vince Londini, research analyst with London, Ontario-based Info-Tech Research Group.

Already, Xandros's approach is to provide a Linux-based operating system that looks a lot like Windows, said Londini, "so it's not so hard to say 'Come on over the water's fine,' sort of thing.'"

Last year, Xandros acquired Scalix, a move that gave it an enterprise-class email server software suite. The purchase of Linspire is "just a natural step", said Londini, adding that the lack of noise preceding the deal makes it a bit of a surprise.

Londini wasn't ruling out more acquisitions of this sort by Xandros in the near future.

Xandros' CEO, Andreas Typaldos, acknowledged that the move formed part of the company's desire to expand into enterprise markets. "This is part of Xandros' larger plan and vision for being a full product company to service both the consumer/OEM and enterprise markets," he said.

Typaldos was optimistic there would be more acquisitions of this nature in the near future, given that "Xandros is essentially trying to build a strategic technology footprint and we're doing that by trying to build the company quite a bit" through hiring talent and acquiring technologies.

But besides consolidation and competing on the enterprise front, Londini said the acquisition has a great deal to do with Xandros acquiring Linspire's CNR technology to better support its consumer presence, which "exploded" with ASUS Eee laptop last year. CNR is a marketplace that encourages third-party Linux application development of sorts from where Linux desktop users can search, download and install Linux applications.

The news of the acquisition also arrives in light of news that Red Hat will open source its Red Hat network, which works a lot like Linspire's CNR, noted Londini.

However, Red Hat and Xandros hail from different places, said Londini. Generally speaking, Red Hat has roots in the enterprise space and has subsequently extended to the consumer space, although it has said it's not competing for the consumer Linux desktop market. It's vice-versa for Xandros.

Typaldos insisted that although Xandros was a Linux company, "fundamentally, is much more complementary, rather than competitive" to Red Hat and SUSE Linux. Xandros's strategy was to recognise the ecosystem of Linux companies and Microsoft "and to provide value add in the enterprise that can essentially leverage those investments" that customers have made in those ecosystem vendors, he said.

Red Hat was not focused on OEMs and desktop applications like Xandros, said Typaldos.

As for striving to take open source mainstream, Typaldos said it's already in the enterprise, especially with regard to the management tool space. He noted Microsoft's System Center extensions that manage both Windows and Linux, and the fact that Xandros and Microsoft have agreed to build application management packs that run on the System Center. Also, Xandros was working with ASUS Eee on its netbooks that run Linux and Windows side by side.


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