IBM leads Linux charge

IBM leads Linux charge

Linux's growing strength in corporate America manifested itself at LinuxWorld Expo here yesterday as several major vendors threw their weight behind the open-source operating system with new products and deeper strategic commitment.

Leading the parade was IBM, which pledged to deliver key technologies along with technical expertise to the open-source community, including Journaled File System, a new version of its ViaVoice speech recognition product, and its first two thin-client workstations for Linux.

IBM announced that the code for its Journaled File System -- technology that is on all of its major operating system platforms -- is now available for download from its IBM developerWorks Website.

The journalling functionality allows users to track their data more efficiently and retrieve it if a server fails, a valued necessity in running e-business file servers. The company will dedicate a tram of engineers that will work full time to add these functions to Linux.

IBM has already made available to the open-source community over the past year its SLM parsers, Jikes reference compiler, and its Java Virtual Machine. It will make other products and technologies available, including those from its research division, over the course of this year, according to company officials.

"Linux is moving into the computing mainstream at least as fast as the Internet did earlier this decade and figures to fuel even further the growth of e-business," said Irving Wladawsky-Berger, newly appointed vice president of technology and strategy for IBM's enterprise systems group.

IBM will also offer a Linux-compatible application developer's kit that includes DB2 Universal database, Websphere Application Server for Linux, Domino for Linux, and VisualAge for Java for Linux.

IBM will also deliver what it believes is the first available speech-recognition product for Linux. The new product enables developers to voice-enable a range of different Linux applications for systems ranging from handheld devices to servers.

Big Blue also said it will offer a beta version of NetObjects TopPage, a Web authoring tool that allows non-programmers to create Web pages.

The two thin-client systems, the Network Station Series 2200 and 2800, will complement the company's other clients, including its ThinkPad, PC 300, and IntelliStation systems.

The Santa Cruz Operation (SCO) jumped into the Linux market for the first time, announcing at the show a Linux version of Tarantella, its Web enabling server-level software. The product allows IT shops to deploy Linux, Unix, mainframe, and Windows NT applications in a thin-client environment without having to modify existing applications.

Corel announced it will deliver its WordPerfect Office 2000 for Linux in two versions: Standard and Deluxe. The two versions will cost $US109 and $159, respectively. Both versions are compatible with the company's Windows version of WordPerfect Office 2000.

Members of the Trillian project, an effort among several major vendors to port Linux over to Intel's upcoming IA-64 chip, are releasing the code to the open-source community. "This marks the first time that software can be developed by the entire open-source community for a pre-production processor architecture," said Sri Chilukuri, the Trillian project's director.

Not all the news at the show was upbeat. During his keynote address, Linux inventor Linus Torvalds said the upcoming 2.4 version of the Linux kernel was behind schedule.

Expected this quarter, work on the kernel is not expected to be completed until mid year and is not likely to appear in distributions of the operating systems until some time in the third quarter, Torvalds said.

"We were on a nine to 12 month schedule to deliver 2.4, but it will end up being more like 18 months after [version] 2.2 was delivered." Torvalds said.

Because the process is taking too long, Torvalds said they are readying a "preview" version of 2.4 that will include some minor tweaks and bug fixes.

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