Linux darling Eazel bites the dust

 Operating Systems

Eazel Inc., once the shining hope for establishing Linux on the desktop with its graphical interface and server-based network environment, has announced it is shutting down after less than a year and a half of operation.

In a note to Gnome developers late Tuesday, Eazel co-founder Bart Decrem confirmed recent rumors, saying the company was closing its doors because it had failed to secure further funding.

"I regret to inform you that Eazel is in fact shutting down. Over the past six months our board members and executives worked tirelessly to secure financing for the company. Unfortunately, the high-tech capital markets have all but dried up and we have been unable to secure funding," Decrem wrote.

While Linux has shown some minor progress in gaining market share on the desktop against Microsoft's Windows, it was Eazel that was predicted by some industry observers to propel the open-source operating system toward a significant breakthrough.

It was not just the product but the people behind it that gave many in the Linux world reasonable hope that it could loosen the iron gripe Microsoft Corp. has held on the desktop. The company was founded by chief executive Mike Boich, who was Apple Computer Inc.'s first software evangelist for the Macintosh. The company also brought in Andy Hertzfeld, who was responsible for designing Eazel. Hertzfeld was the guding force behind the creation of the first Macintosh OS.

In his note to developers, Decreme said that in the next day or two the Eazel site will be shut down, its online services discontinued, and its Nautilus bootstrap installer will no longer be able to fetch files from the company's storage catalog.

However, the company will take steps to ensure users of its online storage can retrieve their files and will send out e-mail to all registered users, Decreme said. He added that Hertzfeld has offered to host what will remain of the Eazel Web site and all the Nautilus resources.

The Eazel source code, CVS repository, and binaries will continue to be hosted on gnome.org. The company's Bugzilla repository, as well as the Nautilus mailing lists and resources such as the RSS feed, will also be hosted by Hertzfeld.

Because Eazel is licensed under the General Public License (GPL), Decreme believes the software will continue on. He said Hertzfeld and several other Nautilus developers will continue to work on the product on a volunteer basis.

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