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IBM confirms Linux deal with Red Hat

Alliance covers support, marketing and hardware optimisation for Linux

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Big Blue and Red Hat revealed today details of their business alliance, forged to provide, market and support Red Hat's Linux distribution on IBM's desktop and server hardware. As anticipated, the deal will see the two companies collaborate to offer what they term "enterprise-level" technical support, long seen as one of the chief barriers to the widespread adoption of Linux within corporates. Red Hat will also provide customer training. The systems themselves will be offered through IBM's Business Partners channel. To promote the operating system, the two companies agreed to conduct enterprise-targeted joint-marketing programmes, though neither offered details beyond making it clearer that various Red Hat Web sites are hosted on Netfinity kit. However, the key part of the deal is the agreement to optimise IBM hardware -- the official announcement lists PC 300 desktops and Netfinity servers, both expected to be part of the alliance, plus IntelliStations and ThinkPads, which are new additions -- to run Red Hat Linux better. Quite what these optimisations will be remains to be seen, but the goals are improved performance, reliability and security. It should also involve widening Linux's support of various types of hardware, such as PC Card slots and cards (vital for ThinkPad support, obviously), another area in which Linux has its limitations. If so, that could give Red Hat Linux a significant lead on other distributions, such as SuSE and Caldera's OpenLinux, beyond just being associated with the IBM brand. It's not clear whether these extensions to Red Hat Linux will only be available on IBM-sourced systems, and given IBM seems to be doing most of the work to create them, that seems likely. But if the deal gives Red Hat access to them too, it will certainly bring it nearer to becoming the de facto standard Linux distribution. ® See also Big Blue to ship Linux on x86, PowerPC systems

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