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Dell plans for Red Hat Linux Itanium boxes get disappeared

Shush - keep building them, but don't tell Bill

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Yesterday Dell announced, and then swiftly unannounced, that it would be in the first wave of companies delivering servers and workstations based on Itanium. It didn't exactly say that these would run Red Hat Linux, but given the context (a Red Hat press release) that was kind of implied.

So what happened? The Register's beady eye was drawn to Dell's on/off commitment by version two of the Red Hat announcement that it was releasing an Alpha version of Red Hat source code for Itanium. Whenever we see a release headed "Corrects and replaces" we naturally go scurrying off to the original to see who goofed.

Aside from forgetting to mention VA Linux's contribution to the IA-64 Linux Project (formerly Trillian), on which Red Hat's distribution is based, version one had a whole paragraph of supporting good cheer from Dell VP and general manager, enterprise server products, Bob Van Steenberg. But Bob's relatively innocuous words were ripped out of version two.

Here's what he said (or didn't say, we don't know): "We continue to work closely with Red Hat, Intel and our strategic independent software vendors (ISVs) to speed development of 64-bit e-commerce solutions that are optimised on Dell systems... As a world leader in Internet commerce and infrastructure products, Dell is on track to be among the first to deliver to its customers Dell PowerEdge servers and Dell Precision WorkStations based on Intel's 64-bit Itanium processors."

See what we mean? He doesn't precisely say they'll be running Linux, but given the context, and the fact that we all know Dell's going to be in the front rank with the hardware, that's surely the message his words are supposed to convey.

Undoubtedly, the quote was supplied to Red Hat by Dell. It's possible that it escaped without proper approval, and it's possible that People On High within Dell who're known to be good buddies with Bill decided to disapprove. That doesn't mean what Van Steenberg said/didn't say won't happen, but it does indicate that Dell is still performing a tricky little balancing act between the Linux and Windows camp.

For what it's worth, we can't find a previous commitment by Dell to be early to market with "e-commerce solutions" running on Linux Itanium systems. The juxtaposition of these three things, of course, would not be likely to spread good cheer among Dell's good buddies in Redmond. ®

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