March 19, 2001, 3:22 PM —
Even though Mandrake boasts that its Linux distribution is the hottest in retail sales, the company considers its retail product a loss leader. SuSE laid off two-thirds of its US employees. TurboLinux is cutting back on its work force and may soon wed Linuxcare in order to refocus its efforts on services. Stormix, a Debian-based commercial distributor, recently filed for bankruptcy. Corel is getting nowhere with its Linux distribution. In other words, most Linux distributions -- even the ones with growing market shares -- are coming to the conclusion that they can't make their money selling Linux.
Welcome to the reality of selling a free operating system.
There are a number of reasons why Linux distributions are dying or shrinking and, I predict, will soon consolidate. The first and foremost is that most Linux distributors continue to base their added value on things like ease of installation or additional packages on the CD.