Sunny skies outside the Miami Beach Convention Center on Tuesday didn't keep Miami Comdex attendees from joining Michael Cowpland, CEO of Corel Corp., in celebrating his vision of the marriage between Corel and Linux.
The most exciting news of the wedding though was a new Corel partner: Inprise Corp., better known as Borland. Cowpland, along with Dale Fuller, interim president and CEO of Inprise, announced they would work together in a strategic alliance to bring Kylix, a C,/C++/Delphi, rapid application development (RAD) program to Linux.
This program, which will be equivalent to Inprise's already planned version 6 of its Windows programming tools, will be powered by a new high-speed set of C, C++ and Delphi compilers. In addition, Inprise will implement the Borland Visual Component Library (VCL) on Linux.
Publicly Inprise is committed to bringing Kylix to market by early next year at the latest. Whenever it's done, Kylix will represent the first full-featured, Windows-style RAD environment for Linux. While Kylix ultimately will work with all Linuxes, Inprise will work first with its partners
The Desktop Goal
Cowpland is continuing to refine Corel's plans for Linux. Praising Linux's stability, open source nature, and price, he says he believes that Linux has a major, complementary role on the desktop. Further, he says he thinks that Corel is the company to bring it to the desktop.
While respecting the work of the other distributors, Cowpland says, in his opinion, Corel will fill the hole for mass-appeal, end-user Linux.
To do this, Corel will be adding on to the Debian 2.2.12 Linux kernel and KDE 1.1.2 environment to make it look and feel more like Windows. The Corel distribution will also ease installation with a promised 'six minutes to booting Linux' install. The Corel distribution will include plug-and-play-style device detection and installation--similar to that provided by Windows 95/98.
If any of this doesn't work at first, Corel's Debian-based program update and installation routine will enable users to update quickly and easily their software from either fixed media, like a CD-ROM, or over the Net. Cowpland says that this approach, which hides installation and upgrade complexities from users, will make Corel's approach superior to Red Hat Software's Red Hat Package Manager (RPM) approach
At the same time, Corel wants to make its Linux as Windows-networking-friendly as possible. Corel will add a graphical local file/network file system to Linux. This will make it possible for users to drag and drop files between local Unix file systems, Windows file systems, NFS and FTP sites--just as Windows users do now across Windows file systems.
When will all this come to pass? Cowpland told Sm@rt Reseller that the earlier beta licensing problems are now cleaned up and that he expects Corel Linux to be in open beta by the third week of October. This beta will be downloadable directly from Corel's Linux site.
Cowpland claims that Corel Linux will go gold by Fall Comdex, and will be shipping to customers, both as a free download for individual users from Corel's web site and in CD package form, by early December at the latest.
What About Market Share?
The key to making any operating system popular is getting it in front of users. To do this, Corel is taking two paths. Corel is working with its current PC partners to get Corel Linux preloaded on their systems. Cowpland says that these partners, "who are all jumping to get on board" include PC Chips, Compaq Computer, Microworkz, Gobi, MicroPro, and Edge.
Cowpland is predicting that many of these companies will preload Corel Linux on sub-$500 PCs. After all, as he points out, at $75 a pop, Windows is often the most costly element on a PC.
Beyond this, Corel will be incorporating a high-level dual-boot option to make it easy for users to switch between Linux and Windows. After that, Cowpland is counting on Linux's stability, and the complete suite of Corel Office products on Linux, to wean users away from Windows.