Mandriva and Turbolinux Join Forces to Unite Linux

Linux distros get together to expand their reach, but is it UnitedLinux all over again?

Mandriva Linux and Turbolinux are collaborating to create a common base for their respective Linux distributions. The joint effort will be called Manbo-Labs and involves developers from France, Japan and Brazil.

While the Manbo-Labs effort is new, tying together multiple Linux distributions with a common base is not. In fact, Turbolinux and Conectiva Linux were part of the 2002 UnitedLinux effort to build a common Linux base. Conectiva has since merged with Mandrakesoft to form Mandriva.

Novell and SCO (with its Caldera Linux product) were also part of the effort. UnitedLinux completely fell apart by 2004 for a number reasons, including the fact that SCO turned against Linux.

According to Mandriva at least, the Manbo-Labs partnership is not a United Linux rehash.

"The point of Manbo-Labs is not to create a common distribution but a common set of very low-level components like kernel, gcc, glibc and Xorg," Ann Nicolas, director of engineering at Mandriva, told

"Putting together efforts, resources and experience is our common objective to make both distributions more competitive and efficient, as maintaining a complete base system needs quite a big amount of resources," she added.

GCCand glibc are key infrastructure elements of an operational Linux system providing code compilation and code libraries. Xorg is a key foundation element for providing a GUI in Linux distributions. The Manbo effort will not be jointly working on the GNOME or KDE desktop layer that sits on top of Xorg.

"Manbo-Labs work will benefit both on the desktop and the server side, as hardware support and management can be as tricky in server and desktop oriented distributions," Nicolas explained.

Nicolas noted that the Manbo partnership is not about shared revenues; it's about shared development. She explained that Manbo is a joint financial effort to fund engineering dedicated to base system development. As part of the effort, Turbolinux and Mandriva are sharing developers in labs working on development, quality assurance and independent hardware vendor partnerships to certify the base system.

"The main goal is to get concrete result as a set of common components that will improve quality and efficiency in Turbolinux and Mandriva," Nicholas said. "These components would have to be recognized by hardware manufacturers to help global certification and support."

Although Turbolinux and Mandriva will share a common base, the Linux vendors have different views when it comes to Microsoft. In October 2007 Turbolinux and Microsoft signed a deal for interoperability and patent protection; Mandriva has no such agreement with Microsoft.

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