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The trend of open source consolidation continues, as last week saw Novell snap up Linux security vendor Immunix, while open source stalwart IBM bought out tiny GlueCode, a maker of application server middleware based on Apache and Java.
With its Immunix buy, Novell can potentially strengthen its Linux security story, adding Immunix's AppArmor product to its increasingly impressive lineup of open source and Linux-based offerings. AppArmor allows users to protect servers from malicious attacks by locking applications into specific behavior limitations, based on user-created templates. This allows a server to be protected from the types of buffer-overflow attacks that hackers use, where weaknesses in certain applications are exploited, and result in takeover of an entire server.
AppArmor closes down these potential backdoors, the software maker says. With Immunix' roots in DARPA - the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency, which was involved in early Internet development - Novell is getting technology with a strong security and reliability background, observers say.
With IBM's Gluecode buyout, IBM gains a free application development platform that could help to bolster its position against BEA and open source app server maker JBoss. Gluecode makes a Java application server - JOE - based on the Apache Web server code, allowing it to run on almost any platform because of Apache's ubiquitous compatibility and widespread use. IBM plans to offer the Gluecode platform for free, and sell services around it for support.
While these two acquisitions should interest enterprises using Novell Linux or IBM application servers, one has to wonder how long it will be before every small open source start-up is swallowed up by large IT vendors that have found their open source religion. Whether this trend helps streamline and strengthen small open source enterprises, or stymies their growth, remains to be seen.
Read more about software in Network World's Software section.