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IBM prods Linux toward bigger servers

In a move that shows the increasing corporate involvement in Linux, IBM releases several software components to improve performance on high-end computer setups.

In a move that shows the increasing corporate involvement in Linux, IBM released several software components Thursday to improve the open-source operating system's performance on high-end computer setups.

The company released version 1.0 of the JFS software, a project to improve the Linux file system. JFS has been a public development effort since January 2000.

A file system is the set of rules that governs how files such as programs or word-processing documents are stored on a hard disk or other storage device. JFS is one of four "journaling file systems" that keep track of changes to files so that it's easier to recover from a crash.

IBM also released a software package that allows Linux to run programs better on high-powered computers with multiple CPUs.

Big Blue is the most vocal corporate advocate of Linux, a clone of the Unix operating system and once a largely volunteer project. The company has pledged to spend $1 billion promoting and developing Linux this year. Chiefly successful on the powerful networked computers called servers, Linux competes with Microsoft's Windows, Sun Microsystems' Solaris and other operating systems.

IBM's JFS isn't the only journaling file system in development. Others include ext3, ReiserFS and XFS, version 1.0 of which SGI released in May.

Linux programmers and the founder of the movement, Linus Torvalds, have said they don't plan to choose one particular file system. Instead they plan to let users decide which they like. The different file systems have their own advantages, and in Linux it's not difficult to have several file systems in use simultaneously.

To improve how well Linux works on multiprocessor systems, IBM also released software that lets Linux incorporate a standard way of handling "multithreading," a method under which programs run several tasks in parallel, which helps take advantage of multiple CPUs. The IBM software, based on the Pth project and now released as version 1.0, is a version of multithreading covered by a standard called Posix.

Both the JVS and Posix multithreading software "are now ready for customer use," IBM said in a statement.

IBM also is working with others on testing, and on other projects, such as the Open-Source Development Lab.