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Impi Linux focuses on migration

By   |  May 10, 2006

In a presentation to press and potential partners yesterday, Impi Linux – predominantly owned by Mark Shuttleworth – previewed some of the expected features of its next distribution. While the new Impi will be based on Ubuntu Dapper Drake, it will not be constricting itself to pure open source and free packages, with StarOffice and Crossover Office expected to be included for an easy migration path from Windows to Linux.

According to Ross Addis of Impi Linux, the next versions of its localised Ubuntu distribution will be divided into “Premium” and “Business Class”, keeping with Impi’s current aeroplane marketing messaging. Business class includes a desktop version, a SME server, and a terminal server. Premium will be customised for specific vertical market segments, with a government distribution as the first market addressed.

The desktop version will most likely include commercial products, with Sun’s StarOffice and Codeweavers’ Crossover Office billed for inclusion, although deals are yet to be finalised. The workstation will also offer integration into Microsoft’s Active Directory Service, and the company is planning a single sign-on model for its products – something it calls “eternal identity management”.

The move to include proprietary products could upset Linux purists, but Impi says that it wants to impress businesses. “We want 80% of Impi to cater to the majority of users, leaving 20% for customisation,” says Addis. “In terms of migration, Crossover Office is one of the best tools we have at our disposal.”

Impi is awaiting the final release of Dapper Drake before it can release its product. Addis refused to give a release date or pricing of the product. It’s unlikely that Impi will be available as a retail distribution, so pricing could depend more on support contracts than license purchases. A “Duty Free” version of Impi Linux is also available for free.

Impi is majority owned by Mark Shuttleworth’s HBD venture capital business, which holds 65% of the shares.

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