High-tech titans join open-source push

Six high-tech industry titans have joined the Open Source Development Network, a new organization committed to accelerating open-source software development, the companies announced Tuesday.

The companies — Compaq Computer Corp., EMC Corp. Hewlett-Packard Co., IBM Corp., Intel Corp. and Sun Microsystems Inc. — are the founding members of the network.

OSDN, a division of VA Linux Systems Inc., was launched Monday and will serve as a community outreach organization center. During the LinuxWorld Conference and Expo in San Jose, Calif., this week, the organization debuted the beta version of OSDN.com, a Web site for open-source collaboration, distribution and discussion.

OSDN partners have agreed to provide equipment, training and funding for open source developers. Their assistance will aid the 50,000 registered users on SourceForge (sourceforge.net) and the 60,000 users of Freshmeat.net, as well as the 3 million visitors to OSDN sites a month.

Also Tuesday at the LinuxWorld conference, Sun and Linux developer Red Hat Inc. announced that they have joined other vendors — including HP and IBM — under the open-source banner of the GNOME Foundation.

The GNOME (GNU Network Object Modeling Environment) Foundation is part of the GNU Project, an initiative to create "GNU" software — free programs that can be modified and shared without fear of copyright infringement. The Linux operating system and applications developed for it are examples of this kind of software.

Linux has enjoyed huge success as a server operating system, but those familiar with the open-source OS blame its complex interface for slowing its adoption by PC users.

Companies' moves to embrace Linux has caused speculation that Microsoft Corp.'s grip on the desktop PC market will loosen.

The GNOME desktop environment will include word processing, file management and other applications.

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