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Intel puts its weight behind Linux – and Linus

Linux support initiative puts OS on same footing as Solaris and NT

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Intel has fired the first shot in today's expected rapprochement with the Linux community, announcing a series of initiatives, including membership of Linux international, designed to place the OS on at the very least an equal footing with NT and Solaris in terms of Intel support. Intel has historically been seen as closely aligned to Microsoft in the 'Wintel' camp, but has increasingly embraced various flavours of Unix as well over the last few years, and recently joined the UDI (Uniform Driver Interface) initiative, offering support in the production of standard hardware device drivers for the Intel platform. By adding active support for Linux, even without the expected announcement of an investment in Red Hat, Intel is moving far more strongly towards Unix, and Unix on cheap, commodity platforms at that. The first of today's announcements is, says Intel, aimed at providing "more solution flexibility and choice for Internet Service Providers." This is Intel-speak for adding Linux to the portfolio of operating systems it helps optimise for its platforms, for sale to ISPs among others (but the announcement was made at an ISP conference, natch). Says the release: "The overall Linux initiative complements work Intel is already doing with Microsoft, Sun and others to expand Intel-based server and networking offerings for ISPs." That is Intel-speak for it's going to hone the hardware and software to a lean, mean, commodity platform that is going to be a compelling choice for high performance networks (ISPs specifically if you like, but they only put it that way because it's an ISP conference). But here's the gag. If Intel is going to do co-development, it needs someone to do co-development with. Which explains the Red Hat interest, but which doesn't mean we should place too much value on that. Intel is sufficiently sophisticated a company to know how prickly the Linux community is, and to understand the dangers of being perceived as buying into Linux and then perverting it for its own ends into some kind of proprietary system. So enter the inventor: "The initiatives Intel is announcing today indicate the relationship between Intel and the Linux community is growing stronger," said Linus Torvalds, creator of Linux. "Our combined efforts will enable the expansion of Linux OS performance and services that will drive more mainstream acceptance of Linux." If Linus says it's OK, maybe it is OK. Sean Maloney of Intel said something too, but it was so incredibly anodyne you can go get it off the Intel Web site if you want it. Here's what Intel is offering as its Linux initiative: 1. Technical efforts, including liaison with the Linux community, the I20 SIG and Project UDI to enable greater availability of Linux device drivers for Intel-based servers; and additional optimisation efforts to ensure Linux is optimized for future Intel processors. 2. Formation of an Intel Linux User Group, kicked off by a special appearance by Linus Torvalds at the Intel Oregon campus last week. 3. Membership in Linux International. ® Other current Linux stories include: The Linux challenge to NT in the enterprise Informix becomes latest Linux recruit Intel, Netscape buy stakes in Red Hat Linux Click for more stories

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