The multiyear deal, which will be announced Monday, boosts Red Hat'sversion, which comes with higher-end features than Red Hat's other versions of Linux. Red Hat, the top seller of the Linux operating system, has already signed deals under which IBM rivals and back Advanced Server.
IBM, though, has been the loudest Linux supporter among computer sellers. Because Linux runs on many different types of computers--unlike Microsoft's Windows or IBM's version of Unix, for example--it simplifies somewhat IBM's complex server line.
Red Hat already had supported IBM's Intel-based xSeries servers. Under the expanded IBM relationship, Red Hat will support IBM's higher-end pSeries, iSeries and zSeries servers.
"We had made no commitments on Advanced Server for the larger platforms prior to this," said Mike Evans, Red Hat's vice president of business development.
Advanced Server is important to Red Hat because it's geared to make more money than the company's ordinary versions of Linux. It costs more than the regular versions and can't be downloaded for free, though a person technically could assemble all its components from the pool of open-source software. Advanced Server comes with guarantees that a customer's software will continue to work even if the operating system is updated.
In addition, IBM will ensure that its DB2 database software, WebSphere e-commerce software, Tivoli management software and Lotus e-mail and calendar software work on Advanced Server. This software support will begin with the xSeries Intel servers this year and expand to the other lines by 2003, IBM said.
IBM's Global Services division, which plans and sometimes runs complex computing environments for its customers, functions as an additional sales channel for the Advanced Server software and the Red Hat Network service to automatically update Red Hat's software.
The two companies will jointly market each others' products and tune them to work well together.