A Linux start-up on the path to profits

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Ubuntu

Ubuntu has been a phenomenon in the desktop Linux niche. But Canonical Chief Executive Mark Shuttleworth, who founded the project, has his eyes on the more lucrative server market.

espite abundant rivals, Ubuntu has risen to prominence within the Linux niche, but that's just a means to an end. Canonical plans to become profitable by 2008 by extracting revenue from the same server market that Linux leaders Red Hat and Novell specialize in.

Shuttleworth deliberately is taking a different approach from those rivals, though: The free, downloadable version of Ubuntu is the same as the supported, certified version. He hopes to satisfy conservative customers with five-year support plans on versions such as June's Dapper Drake; for the leading-edge crowd, versions such as last week's Edgy Eft come with 18-month support.

Shuttleworth sold his security firm, Thawte Consulting, to Verisign for $575 million in 2000 and sunk some of the proceeds into a trip into orbit on a Soyuz spacecraft. But his dissatisfaction with the practices of Red Hat and Novell led him back into the computer industry in 2004 with South Africa-based Canonical.

Shuttleworth discussed his agenda with CNET News.com's Stephen Shankland.

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