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Alpha Processor strikes Linux deal

Partnership with Linux hardware specialist to counter OS' Intel-only perception

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Compaq Alpha licensee Alpha Processor (AP) yesterday announced a partnership with Atipa Linux Solutions (ALS), a US-based developer of Linux workstations. The deal centres on ALS' use of AP-sourced Alpha processors and motherboards in a new line of ISP-oriented workstations and servers -- ALS is particularly targeting database and Internet applications, it said -- but is essentially about promoting Alpha as an better alternative to Intel as a Linux host. So far, Linux has been most widely perceived as an alternative to Windows in the Intel market, even at server level. Certainly, most of the major hardware vendors to embrace the open source OS have placed it alongside Windows NT rather than their own, proprietary Unix offerings running on Risc CPUs. Both ALS and AP are keen to show that Risc shouldn't be restricted to high-end Unix implementations, and that by combining it with Linux you get a system that's just as powerful but, more importantly, a darn sight less expensive. "We see this technology partnership as a springboard for Linux into new, volume markets," said ALS' president and CEO, Jason Talley. Sorry, Jason, but it's already doing that on Intel-based hardware, but good luck, anyway. And with Compaq probably thinking about Linux-on-Alpha, too, it's going to need it. Full financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, but it's interesting that it gives AP the right to take a stake in ALS, though it has not chosen to exercise that right yet. Do we have the makings of a takeover here? Maybe. It certainly wouldn't do AP any harm at all to take on board system building expertise, particularly if it's vision of volume sales of Linux/Alpha systems starts to become a reality. ®

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