A consortium aimed at promoting Linux for desktop computers has been established, marking a significant expansion for an operating system that today fits more comfortably on servers.
The consortium's goal will be to raise awareness of desktop Linux and to speed its adoption.
Companies behind the Desktop Linux Consortium include several Linux sellers such as ArkLinux, CodeWeavers, Lycoris, MandrakeSoft, SuSE and Xandros.
Participants say the new consortium is in part a reaction to the behaviour of one company not on the consortium's membership list: Lindows. Several of the desktop Linux companies withdrew from a Lindows-organised conference, accusing Lindows Chief Executive Michael Robertson of using the forum too much to promote his own company's wares.
Hewlett-Packard and Lycoris were among those that withdrew from the conference. "The recent changes to the conference schedule, the withdrawal of Hewlett-Packard, and conference management have given a single vendor too much focus, which is no longer in the interest of Lycoris," the company said in a statement.
Bruce Perens, an open-source advocate who withdrew from the conference, will lead the consortium at its outset.
Most agree that Linux is too technical for average desktop computer users, but efforts are under way to improve it. SuSE and Red Hat are aiming Linux for developers and for employees using computers for limited functions, such as entering information onto a back-end system or fielding calls from customers placing orders by phone calls.
In addition, Sun Microsystems, which has no relationship selling PCs with Microsoft Windows, also has gotten into the game with its project Mad Hatter and with server software geared to make Linux PCs more useful.
All these efforts have been accelerated by resistance to new Microsoft licensing programs, which effectively raised the prices for some products.
The new consortium will be a non-profit organisation funded by annual dues. It will be open to companies and to open-source organisations, and additional members are expected to be announced soon, the group said.