Corel, EBIZ Roll Out Linux-Based PC, Spark Controversy

Software vendor Corel Corp. (Nasdaq: CORL) and systems manufacturer EBIZ Enterprises, Inc. (OTC BB: EBIZ) have announced a strategic distribution agreement that is designed to help push the Linux open-source operating system (OS) into the consumer arena.

The agreement calls for EBIZ to load their low-end Element-L computer system series and Personal Internet Appliances (PIAs) with Corel’s WordPerfect 8 for Linux. “We are excited to be partnering with Corel, who shares our commitment to Linux,” stated Jeffrey Rassas, founder and CEO of EBIZ. “They are leading the market in providing a range of user-friendly Linux-based desktop applications, including the upcoming release of their flagship WordPerfect Office 2000.”

The Penguin Goes Pop

The Corel-enhanced systems will be available through, an e-commerce site maintained by EBIZ. Earlier this month, TheLinuxStore began offering the Element-L Ion system, a low-cost PC that ships with an Intel Celeron 333 MHz processor and a price tag of approximately $400 (US$).

The Element-L product line includes desktop and notebook computers, alpha computer systems, servers and workstations. Earlier this year, EBIZ brought out the Personal Internet Appliance (PIA), a sub-$200 system that is aimed primarily at net virgins.

“It is fitting that we are supplying our Linux software to a company that provides desktops, servers and workstations aimed exclusively for the Linux user,” commented Dr. Michael Cowpland, president and CEO of Corel. “Corel is very dedicated to the development of Linux and to bringing it into the commercial world, and we are proud to partner with another company who shares our commitment.”

Controversial Partnership

As is often the case with Linux-related news items, TheLinuxStore’s partnership with Corel has attracted criticism. One participant in an online Linux posting group commented, “Does anybody else find it ironic that a company called The Linux Store runs their shop on a Windows NT setup?”

Corel experienced some light public flogging of its own recently when it began beta-testing its distribution of the Linux OS, simply called Corel LINUX. Open-source guru Eric Raymond, among others, accused Corel of violating the GNU Public License (GPL) and of stealing open-source code.

The agreement that accompanies Corel’s beta states that “all right, title and interest to all intellectual property with respect to the products shall remain with Corel and its licensors.” The company claims that the agreement will only apply to the beta version and will be dropped when the product ships.

More Strategic Alliance Movement

Looking to advance corporate adoption of Linux, Corel also announced this week that it has entered into a strategic alliance with Inprise Corp. (Nasdaq: INPR). The two companies will apply combined research and development efforts to Corel’s office productivity applications and Inprise’s application development tools.

“This is the next step in our ongoing commitment to the Linux OS,” stated Dale Fuller, interim president and CEO of Inprise. “The partnership extends the existing cooperation between Inprise and Corel to provide enterprise-class Linux solutions to development teams who are building mission-critical applications.”

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