Friday, 31 August, 2001

Rescuing SuSE Linux

According to this report, IBM, Intel, and some smaller firms are coming to the aid of SuSE Linux--to the tune of $45.5 million.  Even though SuSE has perhaps the most popular Linux distribution in Europe, the company is still failing.  Red Hat here in the U.S. is doing a little better, but hardly setting the world on fire.  Other Linux companies (VA Linux, for example, and Loki Games) are having similar problems.  Now how was that you're supposed to make money selling something that people can get for free?

It's one thing to see companies like IBM and Intel throwing money at failing Linux companies.  $45 million is, literally, pocket change--between the two of them they have over $12 billion in cash.  And perhaps $45 million will be enough to get the company profitable again.  I still think IBM and Intel would be better served to create their own distribution company or just buy an existing one, but I have to assume that they more about this stuff than I do. 

But then I see posts on Slashdot from people who are buying games from Loki in an attempt to keep the company afloat.  Whenever Slashdot posts an article about a failing Linux software company, dozens of people will leave messages that say "I bought Bartender Deluxe from BottomsUp Software, and I don't even drink.  But I believe in supporting Linux software companies."  Heck, if you're not interested in the product, why make the company spend money sending it to you?  If you want to piss money down the drain, just send the company a donation.  In the case of Loki games (see my August 17 entry), it's doubtful that any amount of money could save that company.  Other Linux companies have similar problems--they're spending more on production than they can recoup in sales.  Maybe they're trying to make it up in volume?