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IBM finds new backing for Linux

Updating the love it has for Linux, IBM argues that the relatively new operating system has begun fulfilling its potential as mainstream customers build serious servers with it.

Updating the love it has for Linux, IBM will argue Tuesday that the relatively new operating system has begun fulfilling its potential as mainstream customers build serious servers with it.

IBM, which has pledged to spend $1 billion on the Unix clone this year, will announce several new Linux-using customers at a news conference at the LinuxWorld Conference and Expo, said Ross Mauri, vice president of development in IBM's server group. In addition, Big Blue will announce that its Websphere e-commerce software now works on a mainframe running Linux.

"Linux is no longer on the edge. It is moving into the mainline," Mauri said.

Among the new customers is Securities Industry Automation, which is using Linux on an IBM mainframe to run accounting software that lets stock brokers check that buy and sell orders on the New York and American stock exchanges really took place. The system, which went into use a month ago, formerly ran on servers from IBM rival Sun Microsystems.

Linux also will house the Web site of the U.S. Open Tennis Tournament, following similar moves by the Professional Golf Association, the National Hockey League and the Wimbledon tennis organizers.

In the next seven to eight years, Linux will largely replace Unix, Aberdeen analyst Bill Claybrook said in a July report. Linux will be one of three primary operating systems in commercial use, along with IBM's z/OS mainframe operating system and Microsoft's Windows, he predicted.

But the popularity of Linux hasn't led to financial success for Linux companies thus far, many of which have had to lay off staff and several of which have closed altogether. Red Hat remains the strongest Linux company, but it's diversifying into e-commerce software. Large computing companies such as Compaq, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Oracle, Intel and SAP are driving the continued development of Linux.

Meanwhile, Turbolinux, a Linux seller that got its start in Asia but has been struggling with a canceled initial public offering and management changes, plans to announce a joint venture with Samsung SDS in Korea, Turbolinux said. Samsung SDS is a 6,000-employee company that sells computers with software tuned to customer needs.

The joint venture, Turbolinux Systems, will serve customers in Korea, Northeast Asia, Southeast Asia and the Middle East, Turbolinux said.

And Caldera International, which sells Unix as well as Linux, announced it's working with Intel to improve the GDB debugging tool. The work will make it easier to find out what's wrong with programs written in the Fortran language for Intel's 32-bit chips such as Pentium and Xeon as well as for Intel's 64-bit Itanium chips.