Linux-on-Mac seller aims to fill void
The small Colorado company had carved out a nice niche specializing in selling Linux for Macs and other machines that use IBM's PowerPC chips. In the days following Apple's bombshell, Terra Soft quickly announced plans to seek out alternative hardware on which its Yellow Dog Linux could run.
This week, Terra Soft is announcing it has filled some of the void created by Apple's move. Under a new deal, Terra Soft will resell PowerPC-based servers from Mercury Computer Systems. Mercury's XR9 systems use the same G5 chip as Apple's xServe, but at 2.4GHz, the chips are slightly faster than those used in Apple's top-of-the-line servers.
Terra Soft CEO Kai Staats said he knows that none of the other companies that he might partner with can match the name recognition and marketing muscle that Apple had. But at the same time, Staats notes, his software now can talk more directly to the server hardware, without having to work around Apple's design.
"Apple's departure from the PowerPC space is actually going to open up Power far greater than it ever could," Staats said in an interview. "Apple was such a dominant player. It was difficult for someone else to squeeze in and do a 'me too' (product)."
That said, Staats' company clearly benefited from Apple's hardware, winning a number of deals to provide Linux-equipped server clusters to customers, such as the U.S. Navy. Terra Soft was one of a small number of Linux companies that won Apple's authorization to sell Macs with Linux.
Now, Terra Soft must find other hardware to run its Yellow Dog Linux and convince customers that the PowerPC chip is, on its own, a better option than running a more traditional version of Linux on standard Intel or AMD chips.