Shuttleworth buys into ImpiLinux
Ubuntu founder Mark Shuttleworth today announced his venture capital business HBD had made a \”significant investment\” and taken a majority stake in South African distribution ImpiLinux. Other investors include empowerment group Khuselo Investments.
ImpiLinux — which previously developed its own distribution — will now base its operating system on Ubuntu Linux. The company says it will move its many localisation and development efforts over to the Ubuntu Linux platform.
Impi will offer additional commercial functionality not available in Ubuntu, as well as localisation for the South African marketplace. Impi will initially be available in English, Xhosa and Afrikaans.
Shuttleworth, founder of Canonical and Ubuntu Linux, says the financial backing of HBD and the global developer resources of of Ubuntu will \”put Impi in a very strong position to offer a world class product for the South African desktop Linux market.\”
Gary Fortuin, who previously worked for Microsoft and has been leading ImpiLinux for the past year, will continue as MD of the new venture.
Shuttleworth\’s HBD Business Holdings will be the majority stakeholder in the new venture. Other stakeholders will include Khuselo Investments, represented by Pumla Radebe, Johannesburg City Parks chairperson, and Eddie Funde, the current chairman of the SABC.
The deal also includes black economic empowerment plans to offer 20% of the shares to previously disadvantaged employees.
Fortuin says one of the biggest differentiators will be the Impi\’s local perspective and relationship with its customer base.
\”Because we are a South African organisation, communication between customers and ourselves takes place far faster than with any internationally-staffed organisation.\”
Fortuin says the development team will start by working closely with South Africa\’s major broadband providers to build native support for their access devices and solutions into the operating system.
\”We will also be enhancing local language support to ensure that Impi provides ICT access to South Africans in their home language,\” says Fortuin.
\”Other features will include customising the environment to best suit local users, through making the look and feel more visually appealing and more South African in flavour,\” he says.
\”In addition, we will ensure that Impi can support global standard formats such as Adobe PDF, DVD discs, and MP3 music files. Impi could potentially even run Windows applications, with commercial extensions that provide for greater desktop compatibility between Windows and Linux.\”
Shuttleworth says the new venture \”adds previously unseen depth to the local ICT market. The new team has the skills and the technology to create a Linux distribution that meets all the critical needs of corporates and government departments.\”