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Big Blue latches onto Linux

IBM, in the midst of a company-wide adoption of Linux, begins selling the software.

IBM, in the midst of a companywide adoption of Linux, moves today to begin selling the software.

Today, IBM and Linux distributor Red Hat Software will begin selling computers with the Linux operating system, as reported earlier.

Responding to increasing customer demand by Fortune 500 companies and other business clientele, the computer colossus is advancing its global Linux strategy on several fronts. It is bringing the operating system onto two computer lines, adding Linux support to its services business, and porting its software to the relatively new operating system.

IBM plans to announce details of its Linux strategy at the LinuxWorld conference beginning March 1.

Today, IBM announced support on its Netfinity Intel-based servers. IBM will put support for Red Hat's distribution of Linux on par with more mainstream operating systems such as Microsoft's Windows NT or Santa Cruz Operation's UnixWare, IBM said. Although IBM leaves the job of installing the operating system to resellers or customers, it handles hardware and software technical support for the first 90 days, and Linux will be folded into this model.

IBM will also offer Linux on its PC 300 commercial desktops, IntelliStation workstation computers, and ThinkPad notebook PCs.

Specifically, Red Hat will have its Linux distribution certified on certain IBM Netfinity servers. IBM also plans to encompass the rest of the "big four" Linux distributors: Caldera Systems, which has a strong presence among server resellers; SuSE, a company that is strong in Europe; and Pacific Hi-Tech, which dominates in Japan and China.

IBM will begin its Linux Netfinity plans at the "sweet spot," relatively low-end servers with one or two processors.

The Netfinity machines are targeted at medium-sized and large business customers that need machines to handle "Internet infrastructure" tasks such as Web service, email, protective firewalls, or FTP servers. In addition, IBM is evaluating scientific and technical computing as a potential future market for Intel-based Linux machines.

IBM will also offer Linux systems on low-end RS/6000 machines aimed at the academic market. For these machines, IBM will use the LinuxPPC version of Linux that works on the PowerPC chip.

IBM has also released a beta version of its DB2 database software for Linux, will release a Linux version of its Lotus Domino and Notes collaboration software, and supports the Apache Web server, which is used on many Linux machines.

In addition, IBM will work with software companies to run their products on IBM Linux machines. Those systems will be demonstrated at business shows and will fit in with IBM's joint marketing programs.