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HP Unix gets key features from Compaq

Hewlett-Packard developers move some features from Compaq's version of Unix to its own HP-UX, an important part of the company's plan to eventually merge the two product lines.

Hewlett-Packard developers have moved some key features from Compaq Computer's version of Unix to its own HP-UX, an important part of the company's plan to eventually merge the two product lines.

Compaq's Tru64 Unix was originally developed by Digital Equipment, the high-end computer maker that Compaq acquired in 1998. Tru64, formerly called Digital Unix, was notable in part for its sophisticated "clustering" capabilities, which link several servers so they function and appear as one. Clustering has been a forte for Digital, which pioneered the technology with what is now its OpenVMS operating system.

HP engineers responsible for translating Tru64's TruCluster software to the HP-UX version of Unix now have the technology working on two-node HP-UX clusters, an HP representative said. It's a significant accomplishment, though HP-UX still doesn't match Tru64's support for eight-computer clusters.

In addition, HP has translated the Advanced File System software from Tru64. HP is gradually phasing out Tru64, which runs on Alpha processors, in favor of HP-UX, which runs on HP's PA-RISC chips and Intel's Itanium.

"HP recognizes the work required and has put in place an engineering plan with the necessary resources that is now executing on the commitments made by the firm," said HP watcher Terry Shannon, who reported the software moves in his Shannon Knows HPC newsletter.

HP will release the clustering and file system software for HP-UX in the second half of 2004, the HP representative said. The company plans to support eight to 16 nodes initially and hundreds eventually.

Moving Tru64 features to HP-UX is important in order to retain existing HP-UX customers and to encourage Tru64 customers to stay in the HP fold rather than defect to Unix competitors such as Sun Microsystems or IBM. Sun recently launched an "HP Away" program to lure Tru64 customers.

Under the program, Sun is offering trade-in deals, two weeks of free consulting and the ability to defer payment for as much as 90 days until the migration is completed.