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US Navy buys Linux on Apple kit

Biggest ever Xserve sale

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Apple Computer has scored its biggest ever sale of Xserve servers - thanks to Linux.

Terra Soft Solutions has announced that Lockheed Martin will buy 260 Xserve servers running its Yellow Dog Linux, with the eventual destination being the US Navy's submarines. On board clusters of the Apple rack server will be used for real-time image processing. ("Captain - it looks like a giant octopus") The deal is worth $1.9 million in hardware alone, Terra Soft founder Kai Staats told us today.

The Colorado company is no stranger to HPC (High Performance Computing) using PowerPC hardware, having announced its first foray more than four years ago. The Navy wanted a custom Xserve chassis, and the work was organized by Terra Soft who employed a third-party to modify the hardware. Terra Soft provided a custom kernel and drivers for Fibre Channel storage. Terra Soft has a pretty unique relationship with Cupertino.

"We're the only Apple reseller on the planet with a licence to install a non-Apple operating system," says Staats.

But for Apple, this emphatically isn't a return to the OEM operation that so badly damaged the company's revenues in the mid-1990s, when it licensed the Mac ROM and OS to all-comers. But Apple is in the business of moving boxes, and the more the merrier. ®

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