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LinuxCare Resurfaces as Linux Device Vendor 83

An anonymous reader submits "LinuxCare, famous employer of Rasmus, Tridge, and others during the go-go-90's Linux start-up days, has resurfaced as a Linux device vendor. The company, now known as Levanta, is shipping its first hardware product, which it says is the 'world's first Linux management appliance.' At nearly $8K, it's pretty expensive, but the Integra M does appear to bring some of the cool sysadmin features long available on the Windows side over to Linux IT types."
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LinuxCare Resurfaces as Linux Device Vendor

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  • by RoceKiller ( 699407 ) * <{kd.rellikecor} {ta} {todhsals}> on Wednesday July 27, 2005 @07:05AM (#13174840)
    From Levantas frontpage:
    "For Us, Levanta is the next best thing to cloning our system administrator."
    - Joe Poole, Boscov's Tedhinical Support Manager
    • From Levantas frontpage:

      "©2005 Levanta. No part of this website may be reproduced without express written permission"

      See you in five to ten minumum...can't just run around copying and posting stuff from copyrighted websit...wait...d'oh!
  • by ReformedExCon ( 897248 ) <> on Wednesday July 27, 2005 @07:13AM (#13174868)
    Levanta is right in that the most crucial aspect of running a Linux network is having the manpower available to handle all the issues that arise. They solve this by introducing their hardware/software combination that makes such administration easier and more automated than before.

    But you'd never know it by skimming their site. Like many tech wizards, they get bogged down with technical details and fail to clearly present their product in a coherent manner.

    For all the slick web designing that went into their site, someone could have had the decency to tell them to "dumb it down" for the CIOs out there who haven't got the time to dig into their literature.

    After reading the site, I'm still not clear on what the name of the administrative tool is, nor the limitations as to the number of nodes I can attach to the admin machine.

    There are some very keen concepts that seem to mimic the concept of a system emulator, where the administrator can deploy experimentally and see the results of those deployments without causing system-wide disaster.

    I just wish it were better presented.
    • Agreed. Techies don't hold the purse strings, and they should be well aware by now that "coolness" factor simply doesn't cut it with PHBs.

      Mind you, that cost is still well under the cut-off point at which most level 3 managers can sign off on, so there's a chance that it might gain some market traction.

      Still, no matter how bad the material on the website is, it's still fantastic seeing these kinds of products coming out. Good to see these guys haven't given up.

      • You have a different definition of coolness than I do.

        I don't think the product is cool at all.


        I don't know what it is at all.

        They don't actually say, in technical terms, what the box offers me, as the sysadmin.

        I already know how to run a site on Linux. I'd love to know there's something out there to make it easier, but make it easier *how*?

        I'm not putting out $10k for a box that doesn't have software and functional specifications.
    • they get bogged down with technical details and fail to clearly present their product in a coherent manner.

      On the contrary, there are no relevant technical details, only some very, very high-level, ambiguous conceptual stuff.

      someone could have had the decency to tell them to "dumb it down" for the CIOs out there who haven't got the time to dig into their literature.

      Well, it is dumbed down for the CIOs, perhaps not enough for the CEOs but who cares -- such a system will be sold to them by the CIOs, the

    • What part of "patented technology" didn't you understand?

      They aren't going to tell you all the technical details of a proprietary product they're selling, obviously. This isn't an OSS play.

      I just downloaded their documents (you have to register and give them an address and email that you WILL be spammed with - they say so.) They don't explain the details either.

      Clearly the software product is essentially a virtualizing version control system for Linux systems - you can set up an OS image, make changes to i
      • Clearly the poster understands the phrase "patented technology" better than you do. A patent is not granted unless the technical details are publicly disclosed. You seem to be conflating patents with trade secrets.

        But yes, it seems common sense that a company would not disclose the details of their product if they can help it, patent or no patent.
        • I know what a patent is and what it entails.

          My point was that the company isn't going to tell everybody every detail of proprietary technology ON THEIR FREAKIN' WEB SITE (or even in their marketing brochures.)

          Some /. nerdboys have no clue how business works and it shows in clueless comments like the OP's.

          They tell you all you need to know about their software on the Web site - it does THIS and THIS and (supposedly if you believe the case studies) it WORKS. Whether it does or not, and how much of a pain it i
    • Not sure if I should be disappointed or not. I've been working on some free tools that provide a similar interface. I think I'll not stop though as I'm not sure if they offer a free version and I think my tools are more easily extendible. My interface for single systems is browser based (Gecko-based browsers only.. There is only XUL.) but my fancier interface for managing multiple systems is Python/wxWindows based.

      Oh well.. darn.. I was trying to make Linux easier to manage but it looks like they beat me to
  • Why sell a device? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by cybrthng ( 22291 ) on Wednesday July 27, 2005 @07:24AM (#13174897) Journal
    When you can make more money selling off the software and support?

    Seems like lots of engineering time for something that is basically commodity hardware these days when the focus is the software to begin with.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Believe it or not some people just want a turn-key solution. Sometimes you have the experience and know-how on your staff, but you just don't have the time to get to everything. (I think that is the whole point to this box).
    • by mwvdlee ( 775178 ) on Wednesday July 27, 2005 @07:48AM (#13174958) Homepage
      Because now the CIO's can pay a few $1000 more for the same product.

      Realistically, I think the major benefit is that this box comes completely preconfigured, working and plug-and-playable. Spending a few thousand dollars extra on this might be less expensive than having a person do the same thing on another box. And how about support? Software not working on vendors' box; Vendors' problem, software not working on your own box; your own problem. $8000 may seem like a lot, but compare it to payed labour and it may be cheaper.
      • My point is they could expand the market beyond there specific systems by using software. If they sold a similar system for HPUX and Solaris then they could reach into the markets where people may actually buy these services instead of simply looking at them as "things"
        • As far as I understand, the specs are simply for the servers running the package, not for the clients which are administered by it.

          Besides, seeing as they are currently supporting the ultra-low-end (intel) and ultra-high-end (z/OS), I wouldn't be surprised to see other versions popping up soon.
    • Well, if you'd read the article summary, it says that this company is run by the guys who started LinuxCare. LinuxCare was a company that did do Linux support. They went bankrupt. They failed. It didn't work. So, apparently, you can't "make more money selling off the software and support".
    • When you can make more money selling off the software and support?

      Because turnkey "appliances" are popular right now. Instead of having to worry about multiple maintenance contracts for your OS, software, hardware, etc., you just buy a contract from the appliance vendor and they handle the rest and guarentee the software is compatible on the hardware they sell. It's not a bad arrangement, especially when you factor in the cost of not having to putz around installing and maintaining your own OS on you

    • RTFWS.

      They ARE selling the software separately as well.

      But appliances are big these days. The appliance is just a box they can feature on their Web site. The software is the important thing in this product. The rest of the site barely mentions the box.
    • They sell the device to provides a plausible basis for extending the revenue opportunity with licensing fees: 10 client systems for the base price, additional licenses are $250! Just barely a cost savings versus Windows....
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 27, 2005 @07:24AM (#13174898)
    So, it was the 90ies, and things did get out of hand, but the basic idea of doing Linux services - tech support, consulting, training - was a good one, and many companies continue to pursue these businesses quite successfully. The things that really sunk that company were two of the nitwits that they hired:

    Fernand Serrat - CEO

    Doug Nassaur - CIO

    The second one managed to spend a metric shitload of money on equipment that there were no plans to even use, and, indeed, if you follow his career around, you see him getting turfed out of pretty much everywhere he goes. The sad thing is that, he comes in at such a high level that instead of just being fired like you or I, he gets a big severance package, and no one says anything bad about him anywhere.
    • []

      intersting reading
    • The second one managed to spend a metric shitload of money on equipment Can someone post the conversion factor to US Standard shitloads? I can't seem to find it on Google.
      • Can someone post the conversion factor to US Standard shitloads? I can't seem to find it on Google.

        It is more than a buttload but less than a motherload. I think it is a 1:1.1 ratio so you will get a little more shit when trading shit with other countries like France.

      • Can someone post the conversion factor to US Standard shitloads?
        it's a moving target, because the increasing waistlines here in the States cause corresponding increases in shitload size
    • Some of the waste of resources and money in the late of 90ies and beginning of 2000 was that it was part of the culture of mismanagement at that time. We had huge parties, fishing trips for seals and tech support teams over the S.F. Bay, which would cost the company 25-30k a piece and those boots in Los Vegas conventions with big guys for 250k a piece, and so on. What bothered me most when the reality hit hard was that there was no plan B. Higher management and people in charge just assumed the bull market
  • Fair Chance? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by one_who_uses_unix ( 68992 ) < minus berry> on Wednesday July 27, 2005 @07:30AM (#13174913) Homepage
    It is curious to me to see the frequency that the Linux/Unix enthusiasts complain about the lack of robust/commercial offerings of Linux hosted/compatible systems in various areas compared to those that are Windows hosted/compatible.

    We should be supportive of companies and individuals that are attempting to establish a broader base of Linux/Unix hosted/compatible systems since it can only benefit the industry.

    If a system truly is a piece of crap, then many will hopefully learn from the experience - even folks not part of the effort. Many great products started as a POS and grew into respectable offerings.

    Although I understand people taking the opportunity to thrash this system (it can be fun), I wish that the general attitude of the vocal members of the community was just a little more positive.
    • "It is curious to me to see the frequency that the Linux/Unix enthusiasts complain about the lack of robust/commercial offerings of Linux hosted/compatible systems in various areas compared to those that are Windows hosted/compatible."

      Yeah, curious to me too.



  • Ha... (Score:3, Funny)

    by William Robinson ( 875390 ) on Wednesday July 27, 2005 @08:03AM (#13175020)
    Among LinuxCare's contributions were a beautiful 8-foot tall printed map of the Linux kernel

    Big deal. It cant be more beautiful than Windows, which gives me map of kernel daily, that too on blue screen.

  • by baldvin ( 267689 ) on Wednesday July 27, 2005 @08:23AM (#13175105)
    I am really interested, since I've spent the last two years of my life for creating a sysadmin tool, i hope much better than fai, but sort of similar.

    Now they come, and create this buzz with only marketing bullshit on their site. I have filled in the form with all my data (curios that they did not ask my mothers maiden name...), and got the chance to download the whitepapers with such a huge amount of marketing stuff in it, that I still don't know how this system works.

    - I don't care about cost graphicons
    - I don't care about stories
    - I don't care about anything, but

    could anybody please tell me what the architecture is, what is the way it installs/maintains servers, so how does it work?
  • by Raleel ( 30913 )
    seems really similar to RedHat's Satellite stuff. we use that where I work and it'll do pretty much all of that. It won't do it with Suse, of course, but the other functionality is there.
  • handled Solaris too.

    We don't care about Windows, but we have a 50/50 mix of Solaris and Linux. Supporting both OSs, that would be something.

  • by dan the person ( 93490 ) on Wednesday July 27, 2005 @09:46AM (#13175551) Homepage Journal
    "Dennis says that porting the Levanta software to an appliance form-factor was "a very smooth operation," which he credits to the maturity of Levanta software as a standalone product.

    In related news Microsoft reports they have successfully ported Windows from Intel Desktop ATX platform to VIAs mini-ITX platform
  • The first? No... (Score:3, Informative)

    by buffy ( 8100 ) * <buffy&parapet,net> on Wednesday July 27, 2005 @11:42AM (#13176588) Homepage
    For one... []

    In addition to pioneering the whole concept of Server Blades, we've had a Linux-based management system for quite sometime. We're on our sixth generation, so it's pretty smooth to boot. Target audience varies a little bit, but the "first" they are not.

    Just my $0.02.


    PS. I work for RLX, though these opinions are mine.
    • Not to burst your bubble...

      It's very hard to make out what your software actually does from your website. Is it a nagios frontend? webmin?

      If you're in your 6th generation, provide an online demo or at least some screenshits w/o having to squint to see them embedded in a PDF. I'm not talking about a 'demo' where a salesperson shows me some screenshots that have been selected for their marketing value. I want to see how the software actually works.

      I doubt the software RLX came up w/ is any closer to being "th
  • Levitra? Uh, no, I don't need to buy any, my sex life is fine, thanks..

    oh.. *Levanta* is what you're trying to sell me. Ah, I see. A different kind of pill. "The kind of purchase that gets rid of headaches," you say? I'll take 2!

    The LinuxCare/Levanta folks are going to be at the next Linuxworld Expo. Is Slashdot going to be there? I've been going since 1999 and the event really has dwindled in size. No more huge Slashdot booth, either.
    I was going to go anyway, but this product looks pretty interesting and I
  • Cool system admin tools and Microsoft Windows is an oxymoron.
  • Could someone briefly explain exactly how this thing works? Reading through the website I get some idea of what it does, but how does it do it? Do you need to run a specific Linux distribution on your machines or what? Does it just store a bunch of disk images?

  • For those who would like more details on how the Levanta technology, and specifically the Intrepid M, works, I thought I'd jot down a quick response. After LinuxWorld, we plan to update the website with additional technical information, as well as a conceptual Flash demo, that should help answer some of the technical questions.

    In the meantime...

    As a basic concept, the Levanta technology marries network-boot provisioning with data virtualization and change control. MapFS, a GPLed Linux kernel-loadable modu
    • Oh, cool! So someone finally figured out how to make shared storage work across the board, not just for executables. I have been working on this for the last couple of years, but looks like someone beat me to it! oh, well.

      If not for the hefty $7500 price tag, the checkpoint/restore and the hibernation/migration features are a nice touch over the above. The price is probably chump change for an IT department, but it doesn't sing to all us OSS guys in the community with very little disposable income.

      Now, if
      • We're actually considering creating a free downloadable ISO version that basically takes the software inside the Intrepid and can be used to burn a DVD. You could then take this DVD, boot off it, and turn a random machine into a a homebrew version of the appliance. Would this be interesting to the OSS community? If so, how many machines do you think the average OSS guy who might use the DVD would want to manage?
  • I stopped by their booth at Linuxworld yesterday and got a demo. That thing is slick! At closing time, they had a group of their engineers celebrating cuz they had just been awarded LinuxWorld's Most Innovative Hardware award for product excellence. Mom, can I have one for xmas?

The last thing one knows in constructing a work is what to put first. -- Blaise Pascal