Impi Linux

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Impi Linux
Developer Impi Linux (Pty) Ltd
OS family Unix-like
Working state discontinued
Source model Open source
Available in multilingual
Update method APT
Package manager dpkg
Platforms x86 architecture
Kernel type Monolithic Linux kernel
Default user interface GNOME
Official website

Impi Linux was a South African Linux distribution which focused on the enterprise and government sector. The project name originally referred to Impi meaning group of warriors in the Zulu language. In September 2005, Mark Shuttleworth invested R10 million in return for 65% of Impi Linux.

The project was discontinued in April 2009 after Impi was incorporated and later purchased by Business Connexion.[1]

Company history[edit]

Impi Linux has a long history, but has managed to transform from an open source project into a company. The project started from a discussion on the South African Gauteng Linux Users Group, GLUG. The first meeting in late 2001 was held at Andre Coetzee's home and got the project off to a slow start with more discussions about the name of the distro than that of its would-be technical merits. Interestingly, one of the names initially put forward was Ubuntu. Attendees of the first meeting were: Andre Truter, Ross Addis, then chairman of GLUG, Andre Coetzee of Cubit Accounting, Craig Main, Mischa Capazario, Eugene Grimsdell, Norio De Souza, Andrew McGill, Laurens Steenkamp and others, all members of GLUG.

Impi Linux's first release, version 1, was released 1 November 2003. A few other companies provided sponsorships in the form of professional media and public relations from MIP Holdings as well as bandwidth and an FTP mirror from Internet Solutions.[citation needed]

The first release of Impi Linux was not widely adopted due to many technical faults and an immature installation routine.

In October 2004, following the release of version 2, Andre Coetzee started identifying potential partners and investors and engaged with a recently listed technology company then called Xantium. Xantium and Andre Coetzee signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with SITA to undertake a proof of concept (POC) project. The POC was successful and eventually culminated in SITA issuing a tender, RFB 428.[citation needed] Xantium offered to buy Impi for R450,000, which was ultimately rejected. However Gary Fortuin (who serves as the managing director) moved from Xantium to Impi Linux.[citation needed]

Following the POC at SITA, Impi Linux officially became a company, Impi Linux (PTY) Ltd, in February 2005. This was at SITA's request. SITA were unable to procure from a project, so a company had to be formed. Nick Venter and Howard Lowenthal assisted Andre Coetzee and Gary Fortuin to structure the new company.

In February 2005, the fledgling company set up shop in Rosebank, Johannesburg, at which point Ross Addis joined Impi Linux full-time (although on the Cubit Accounting payroll).

In May 2005 Impi Linux exhibited at the first South African LinuxWorld in Johannesburg with a sponsorship from Arivia.kom, a South African IT para-statal company.

In August 2005, the core of the Impi Linux team (consisting of Gary Fortuin, Francis Viviers and Ross Addis) started discussions with Mark Shuttleworth.[citation needed] In September the deal was concluded when Mark Shuttleworth, through his HBD venture capital company, invested R10 million into Impi Linux in return for 65% of the company. Two Canonical Ltd. employees in South Africa also joined Impi Linux.

In August 2005, SITA issued the Request For Bid 428.[citation needed]

Impi Linux, along with eight other companies, won the tender in February 2006.

In May 2006 Impi Linux launched a partnership programme entitled “The Mile High Club” to correlate with the company’s aviation marketing theme. It is intended to give partners better access to Impi Linux's professional services and products as well as benefiting from Impi Linux's relationships with CodeWeavers and Canonical Ltd..

In August 2006 Impi Linux begun a proof of concept-cum-roll-out at the South African Department of Science and Technology, using a customized version of Impi Linux.

In 2008, Impi was purchased by Business Connection; the open source division was later shut down and the Impi project discontinued.[1]

Company shareholding[edit]

Shareholders of the company were Shuttleworth's HBD Business Holdings (65%), with an additional shareholding from Khuselo Investments (Pty)Ltd (10%). Khuselo Investments jointly represented by Pumla Radebe, Johannesburg City Parks Chairperson and Eddie Funde, chairman of the SABC. In addition, 20% of the shares in the new entity have been earmarked for BEE, in the form of a trust that will disburse shares to previously disadvantaged employees over time. Other minor shareholders (5%) include, Andre Coetzee, Nick Venter, Howard Lowenthal and Gary Fortuin.[citation needed]

Release history[edit]

Impi Linux 1[edit]

Version 1 (released 1 November 2003) Andre Coetzee decided to base it on Gnoppix, the installation script used dialog and was written in PHP by Francis Viviers who was employed full-time by Andre Coetzee to work on Impi Linux.

The initial distro used the GNOME desktop environment and contained new utilities mainly written by Quintin Beukes (a shareholder in Cubit Accounting) who was also employed by Andre Coetzee at the time..

Impi Linux 2[edit]

In 2004 Impi Linux started the task of building a Linux distribution from scratch. Ultimately, it didn't prove to be a good decision on their part. Impi Linux 2 was officially released at an event, held at the Dimension Data Campus in Johannesburg, celebrating the first international Software Freedom Day on 28 August 2004.

Impi Linux 2 featured a KDE interface and a very fast installation procedure (again written in PHP). The administration panel was placed inside the Cubit Accounting system, which shipped with the distribution.

Impi Linux 2005[edit]

In March 2005, Impi Linux 2005 was released. It was basically version 2 with major stability and cosmetic changes. Impi Linux 2005 had a unique African theme, which was created by Jonathan Smit, a graphic designer then employed by Impi Linux.

Impi Linux released two updates to the 2005 version, UP1 and UP2, between March 2005 and August 2005.

Duty Free 6.01[edit]

Impi Linux released their latest free public release in January 2006, Impi Linux Duty Free 6.01 and was based on Ubuntu 5.10 Breezy Badger. It featured a KDE interface on a Live CD. It also featured the first GUI Live CD installer on an Ubuntu system. The installer was a culmination of the previous Impi Linux installation methods, which has now been dropped in favour of the Ubuntu Live CD installer.

Customised releases[edit]

In June 2005, Impi Linux delivered a customized version of the distribution to Exclusive Books, a large South African book retailer for use on the point of sale terminals. Exclusive Books continue to use the distribution in all of their stores across South Africa and in Botswana[citation needed].


7.05, based on Ubuntu, was released in May 2007.


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External links[edit]