IBM is offering its network of independent software developers a test drive of the IBM zSeries mainframe to write new Linux applications.
Launching its Linux Community Development System last week, the vendor is giving developers limited access to their own virtual' server on a partitioned mainframe running Linux and a Shark storage sub-system. IBM is hoping it will encourage independent software vendors (ISVs), existing IBM customers, academics and even IBM's own competitors to consider the mainframe for building and deploying Linux applications.
The mainframe has the unique ability to be separated or partitioned' into thousands of virtual stand-alone servers, meaning developers can work on applications independently without having any effect on the other developers working on the same mainframe.
Participants can register at IBM's Linux web-site at www.ibm.com/linux. However, last week there were extensive delays as the enthusiastic response from developers overcame IBM's preparations. A message posted on the IBM web site read: "Due to heavy enrolments and the extended USA Holiday Weekend, the LCDS registration process will be unavailable until next week. Thank You."
An IBM spokesperson confirmed that the scheme has been popular among developers after a similar response during the scheme's initial trials. "Word spread swiftly through the Linux user groups about our pilot program and we have already received a tremendous response from a diverse group of International Linux developers," he said.
"Operating on the LCDS right now, we have everyone from a PHD in the Netherlands, to a high school student from Brooklyn, New York. We also have developers from India, Australia, New Zealand, Finland, Scotland and Korea, to name a few."
The spokesperson said IBM has been successful in creating interest in its Linux activities without causing too much anxiety in the Linux developer community about the commercialisation of the movement. As an example, the Linux Business Expo in March saw Linuxworld award IBM for porting Linux to its mainframe systems.
Any developers able to register at the IBM Web site will be able to choose between a SuSE or a TurboLinux zSeries distribution and will be offered access for either 30, 60 or 90 days.
"IBM will act as custodian of the system, ensuring legitimate conduct and comprehensive technical support, but they will not supervise the system," said an IBM spokesperson.
"Users must have the technical experience to know how to install their SSH shell and make contact with server via technical client/host security. They will also have to know how to work with Unix and Linux, and Apache Web servers."