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A proposal by Bruce Perens to create a Linux distribution for enterprise-level usage that continues to be free (rather than charging per-seat license fees), promotes standards-compliance and avoids vendor lock-in. It's described in Perens's white paper at http://userlinux.com/white_paper.html. Whether UserLinux will emerge as a serious project, however, remains to be seen (maybe 2004 is "The Year of Desktop Linux" that they've been promising since '98?)

UserLinux would be a system for both desktop and server use in businesses of all sizes. The User in the name stands for the fact that the expense of producing UserLinux is supported by its users on an engineering and service fee basis, rather than through software sales. It is not an attempt to produce a "Linux for Grandma", but is usable by the millions of people with the technical skill to run GNU/Linux systems at home, many of whom do so to facilitate their business or employment. Of course we'll take advantage of improvements in user friendliness as they are developed, however it's not our intent to lead their development. (from the whitepaper)

UserLinux is to be built on Debian (imagine that, since it's the brainchild of BP), using GNOME as its desktop GUI. This has angered many KDE folks. Perens has defended this charge by reiterating that he intended from the beginning to play favourites and by the fact that Qt, on which KDE is built, is not completely free for proprietary development (since we're trying to get UL adopted in business settings). Other software packages chosen as defaults include MySQL (with non-GPL libraries, for business adoption), Apache 2, Python, Mozilla, and OpenOffice.org for at least some of its office tasks.
Update, 1 Feb. 2004: In a message posted to the UL discussion list yesterday, BP mentioned that Perens LLC is providing commercial support for at least one customer, even though GNOME is the preferred DE.

UserLinux Documents:
  • Original Whitepaper: http://userlinux.com/white_paper.html
  • Conquering the Enterprise Desktop (KDE's reply to UL's choice of GNOME): http://desktop.kdenews.org/strategy.html
  • On the GUI Selection in UserLinux: http://userlinux.com/GUI.html
  • (Discuss) xlibs based UI: http://lists.userlinux.com/pipermail/discuss/2004-January/003492.html

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