Update: on August 4, 2003, Ximian, Inc. was acquired totally by the Novell Corporation in a cash transaction, details not disclosed. Whoopee! I work for Novell! Heh.

Ximian is a software company that makes its home amongst the jungles of the Linux world. The company was founded as Helix Code by Nat Friedman and Miguel de Icaza of the GNOME Project. The first product of the fledgling firm was the Helix Desktop - a set of integrated GNOME applications, applets and utilities that would install on top of various popular Linux distros. The product was (in)famously easy to obtain; piping the output from the URL http://go-gnome.com to a shell interpreter would bootstrap the network-based installer onto the user's system.

Helix Code changed its name to Ximian due to legal concerns in 2001. The Desktop was renamed the Ximian Desktop. Built on top of GNOME 1.4, it competed directly with KDE for the hearts and minds of desktop Linux users all over the planet.

In 2003, Ximian fields a number of products. In addition to the Ximian Desktop (version 2 of which, based on Gnome 2.2, is due to be released on midnight the morning of June 9th, 2003) Ximian also produces Ximian Evolution, a freeware GNOME email and PIM application. While Evolution is freeware, Ximian offers a complementary piece of software (named Ximian Connector) at a per-seat license cost. Ximian Connector allows Ximian Evolution to act as a client to Microsoft Exchange 2000 groupware servers - allowing Linux desktop users to co-exist within enterprises which already have investments in Exchange. Desktop, Evolution and Connector have been ported to other operating systems such as Sun's Solaris and HP/Compaq's HP-UX.

In addition to these offerings, Ximian is rolling out additional products in the enterprise Linux space. Ximian Red Carpet is a distributed software management system, allowing centralized management of the OS and installed software on client Linux machines. Ximian offers Red Carpet as a service, and also sells the software to allow enterprises to set up and maintain their own internal Red Carpet systems.

The company sponsors a deal of open-source research and development. In addition to employing a number of remote hackers to work on various components of its software, several employees spend large chunks of their time working on open-source stuff while in-house. Miguel de Icaza is the founder, coordinator and general head monkey of The Mono Project, which aims to produce a completely open-source version of Microsoft's .NET run-time environment that will allow .NET applications to run under other operating systems. (Mono, by the way, is Spanish for 'monkey'. Not like there's a trend, or anything.)

It's a pretty cool place to work; there's monkeys everywhere, lots of beanbags, and pervasive 802.11. Plus, there are smart folks playing with things they like a lot - and that's always a recipe for severely impassioned arguments and collaborations, as well as just general excitement about lots of various stuff. Keeping all the monkeys pointed in the same direction is not what one might call an easy task, so Ximian has acquired a more professional and 'corporate' executive and management team to ensure that it doesn't explode from its own enthusiasm.

As you may imagine, I tend to wander around amused that they're willing to pay me to come to work here. Which, really, is a good thing to have at a job, I think.

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