Ingres intends Tuesday to provide more details about its upcoming software appliance, a tight coupling of its open-source database with rPath\u2019s Linux distribution that is designed to simplify system maintenance.Wrapping the Ingres database with only the operating system functionality necessary to run the database should allow users to update and patch their database and operating system at the same time, treating the software combination as a single maintenance unit, according to Ingres Chief Technology Officer (CTO) Dave Dargo.Due to become generally available by year\u2019s end, the software appliance is at the proof-of-concept stage and is in the hands of a couple of customers, Dargo said. Following its debut at the LinuxWorld conference in San Francisco this week, Ingres plans to make the offering more widely available for download later this year. Previously known as Ingres Software Appliance, the company Tuesday rechristened the work Project Icebreaker.The Icebreaker name reflects both Ingres\u2019 desire to kick-start discussion around a potential new model for software maintenance as well as "break the logjam" proprietary software vendors like Microsoft and Oracle currently have on maintenance, Dargo said. Microsoft, which effectively sells customers a software stack of operating system, applications and database, doesn\u2019t provide integrated support, but separate maintenance for each of its different products, he added.Project Icebreaker is also the first major new software from Ingres, a database and middleware tools provider. Before its reinvention as an open-source player in 2004 and its subsequent spin-off from CA in 2005, Ingres was a closed-source software vendor for decades.Ingres and rPath began work on Project Icebreaker five months ago. Project Icebreaker will feature about 35 percent of the rPath Linux distribution\u2019s components, equivalent to 15 percent of the operating system\u2019s size, said Erik Troan, cofounder and CTO of rPath. "Reducing the size of the system reduces the surface area for security attacks," he added.RPath specializes in working with independent software vendors to build Linux software appliances using its rBuilder tools and rPath Linux. Last month, rPath announced a partnership with open-source telephony company Digium to include its Linux with Digium\u2019s Asterisk Business Edition private branch exchange.Ingres is hoping that third-party software vendors will want to build on top of the Project Icebreaker framework to create their own appliances to act as e-mail servers and configuration management databases, Dargo said.Ingres has yet to settle on a final name for Project Icebreaker and is polling customers on their preference, Dargo said. At present, users are split between those who like the software appliance tag, feeling it describes the software perfectly, and those who think the word "appliance" is more suitable for computer hardware, he added.-China Martens, IDG News Service (Boston Bureau)Check out our CIO News Alerts and Tech Informer pages for more updated news coverage.