The Love of Linux Chapter 5: Technology Innovations
In addition to the innovations Caldera had already brought to Linux (enhancements to RPM, DOS box, etc., we developed the only self-hosted environment for Linux where our products were all built from our source so that all binaries we ship match the source code. Self-hosting greatly enhances the ability to optimize the product, to improve performance and to reduce support. We began to demonstrate to the world that we were Linux for Business and there is a difference. With Troll Tech, our engineers developed the first graphical install for Linux that revolutionized how Linux was installed. The following email was sent to Haarvard Nord the President of Troll Tech shortly after the release of the graphical installer and it illustrates the spirit of cooperation that existed between the two companies.
Haavard Nord wrote:
You can certainly use it. Eirik Eng (email@example.com) maintains the QPL and I think he has had some requests for changes from other people who want to use the QPL, too. At least, I remember that the Choice of Law section needs a change (it says that the license is governed by the Laws of Norway and that disputes shall be settled by Oslo City Court — which makes little sense for Caldera and others). It’s best to contact Eirik Eng about this.
I will have Lynn Nielson contact Eirik on the QPL issues. Thanks.
Now I’m running COL 2.2 on my Compaq laptop and I’m very, very pleased with the system. I like COAS, except that it has a very simple and dull user interface. Arnt Gulbrandsen, who wrote the Lizard with Matthias Ettrich, is our GUI philosopher and he has some ideas how the COAS user interface can be beefed up. If you have heard funny stories about Arnt from your colleagues in Germany, I can assure you that they are true :) Arnt is quite special, but extremely clever with computers.
I would very much like to talk to you about Arnt’s ideas. We are currently trying to finalize the features of the next release of OpenLinux. The COAS interfaces need to look better. We are trying to have 2.3 out and localized by September so we do not have a lot of time to add a lot. In fact, June 30, we will have to be code complete. The one feature set we would like to promote, if possible, would be to move KDE to the new Qt 2.0 libraries. That would help both Caldera Systems and Troll Tech in the Linux community. Red Hat and others are still spreading FUD about the fact that KDE is still not true Open Source. If we can get KDE ported to your 2.0 libraries, we can make a lot of noise about it in the press. We also can begin to localize KDE in the double byte languages and have a better quality product in the Asia countries. Pacific
Hightech is going to use GNOME because it is double byte enabled. Is it feasible to try to port KDE to the Qt 2.0 libraries in this time frame? Can you help us clean up the COAS interfaces and finish the port to Qt 2.0? If this is possible, how can we compensate you?
Ideally, it would be really nice to have KDE 2.0, but I am not sure we would make it. We could then begin to push CORBA very heavily as the unifying element between KDE and GNOME and be the leaders. If you have any further ideas, I would love to hear them.
The cooperation between Ralf Flaxa and Stephan Probst, who ran our Erlangen development team, and Haarvard’s Troll Tech team, had accomplished a major milestone in Linux history. We began to win nearly all of the awards including Best of the Best software from Internet Week and the Best Product of the Year from Linux Journal. We even won the Well Connected award for the best network operating system beating NetWare 5 and Solaris for that honor in 1999. With the new management team and renewed focus, during 1999, we nearly tripled our revenue.
We began to solicit investments from several of the major Corporations. Caldera went to IBM and Intel, both of which had invested in nearly all other Linux companies, but they refused to invest in Caldera. They had picked their players even though we had proven our abilities and vision. Was it our suit against MicroSoft or did they have their own agenda to exclude us? So we turned to other companies. Novell was literally begging us to participate. Caldera told them no because they had failed to live up to any of their previous commitments. When they agreed to sign a letter with several other binding commitments, we let them participate in our second round of funding (surprise, surprise, Novell failed to live up to any of its commitments in the letter). This round included other industry players, like Sun, Citrix and SCO and several investors like Chicago Venture Capitalists, Egan Managed Capital and Ensign Peak. Through this round of investment, we gained two board members who were helpful in transforming our board into an industry quality, Jack Egan and Ed Iaccabucci. Jack was hard to please but he forced some corporate rigor that was needed. Jack later had to resign because of other obligations, but Ed continued to add a tremendous amount to the company, even after he stepped down as CEO of Citrix.
Clearly, the tremendous effort made by our internal team and partnership with Trol Tech and the resulting superior technology and innovation, had helped transform Caldera into a real, viable company, but probably the single biggest reason we were able to get funding was Red Hat’s successful Initial Public Offering. They also launched us on a path to our own IPO and this event confirms that a rising tide does lift all boats.