By Rachel Chalmers
I think launch is a very strange word, says Dave Sifry, one of the three founders of San Francisco-based support organization LinuxCare (the others founders are Art Tyde and David LaDuke). Sifry’s words explain a lot. LinuxCare is slated to launch on March 1, despite having been in business for more than a year. We’re gearing up a number of major announcements, Sifry says, and besides, the company has moved into new offices. How many excuses do you need for a launch, anyway? The LinuxCare story goes like this. A year ago, Sifry, Tyde and LaDuke found a number of Fortune 1000 companies stumbling over Linux installations that technical people had sneaked through the door. Once those technical people moved on, the companies needed a toll-free support line. And they needed one that supported all Linux distributions, from the mainstream – Red Hat, Caldera, Pacific Hi Tech and SuSE – to the alternative – Debian, Linux PPC and Mandrake. Because it’s not affiliated with any one distributor, LinuxCare can act in a completely distribution-agnostic way, says Sifry. In any case, that’s not too hard, because he estimates that 99% of the code is identical from distribution to distribution. Some have better installation scripts than others but essentially it’s all the same, he says. What LinuxCare is really about is being there to provide support for the enterprise. If Linux is really as good as its advocates say, why does it need a support line? The more user-friendly we make Linux, the more users there are going to be, observes Sifry. He reasons that the more users there are, the more untrained people will come into contact with the OS. Those, Sifry says, are the ones that need support.