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IBM gives Linux drivers helping hand

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Big Blue said today that it is designing a set of drivers to speed Linux along on its Netfinity range of servers. The announcement puts flesh on the bones of the deal it recently struck with Red Hat to bundle the latter's version of Linux with certain Netfinitys. At the time, IBM said the agreement would involve involve work to ensure OS and hardware were fully compatible. Tikiri Wanduragala, IBM EMEA Netfinity server consultant, said: "Customers want us to bring Linux to the same level as other operating systems. A lot of the work is upgrading other software that Linux requires. "We're working on specific areas in the kernel that have to be addressed for Linux. RAID systems for servers is one. Comms adaptors need very specialised operations. You've got microprocessors behind every adaptor. That's where the work has got to go in. "Linux currently is a two CPU model. Initially, we will support Linux on our 3000, 5000 and 5500 Netfinitys and not on the high end 7000. The reason for that is Linux is only two way. We're working with the Linux community to fix that. "We have to bring in clustering too. The work for 16-way systems is in place, it's not there yet. Application is software is not yet out there to support the high end. Customers are happy to get their two way systems up and running. "Systems management is an absolute must. Our hardware generates alerts so we have to work on Linux-based code for that. Service and support has to be patched in so we can offer exceptional support. We're going to offer 90 days support for Linux as well." Wanduragala said: "Linux is a different world. It's a question of identifying a problem and putting the problem in front of people to lots of people can fix it." He said that the drivers IBM is working on will be made open source code, meaning that other vendors can adapt it to their needs. "We're looking into doing co-marketing with Linux. But we're OS transparent. The drivers are the only things that tune a machine. Adverts will be OS generic." A team in North Carolina will also do chip optimisation for Linux, he said. ®

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