UK start-up Jool has launched a complete open source web server starting at under £800 aimed at those without Linux skills who want to move away from Microsoft or Sun Microsystems.
The company spent three years developing its server range. The hardware and Linux-based NetServ software series models are designed to overcome a major stumbling block for Linux: that administrators need either Unix or Linux knowledge to configure and run a Linux system.
As well as being a web server, file and print server and mail server, the NetServ systems can act as low-cost replacements for Windows servers running a network of Windows desktops.
Anjula Perera, director of Jool, said: "An inherent problem with Linux is that it should be available to the everyday user, but it is too confusing.
"The only way to go was to create an appliance effectively marrying a Microsoft graphical user interface [GUI] with Linux power and versatility."
Jool also has Sun in its sights, especially the Sun Cobalt Qube Linux system, which it claims is more expensive and has less functionality than NetServ.
"Not everyone is a geek, so an investment in making tools easy is extremely important," said James Governor of analyst Illuminata. "This is the right kind of server for channel play and a very interesting value proposition."
But Governor warned that, while Sun could be vulnerable to competition, a bigger challenge would come when IBM and Hewlett Packard brought out equivalent systems.
The entry-level Kwartz NetServ system, at £799, is aimed primarily at the small office/home office market, with higher specification rack-mountable Kwartz Pro and Dymond systems for larger companies. Both come with remote administration designed to hide Linux from the user.
The systems include the company's own JooLinux operating system, based on the Linux 2.4 kernel, and a web-based GUI with remote administration to handle configuration and administration functions.
Jool was formed in December 2001 from two British companies - security specialist Securit and developer Ancom - which were both working on the NetServ project.
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