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Intel confirms VA Research deal

The chipmaker joins the Linux push by investing in VA Research, a company that makes Linux hardware and software.

SAN JOSE, California--Intel confirmed today it will invest in VA Research, a company that makes Linux hardware and software, in a move that is aimed at spurring development of operating system software for Intel's next generation processors.

Intel's investment is intended to help VA Research port the Linux operating system to Intel's upcoming 64-bit Merced chip, the companies said here at the LinuxWorld Conference and Expo, as previously reported.

VA Research Chief Executive Larry Augustin said his company will receive information from Intel under a non-disclosure agreement, but that all contributions to Linux eventually will be freely available to the open source community that has developed Linux.

Performing development work in the closed world instead of the open source realm did give him qualms, but the company only signed agreements that expired. "There's not any work under NDA that we can't eventually release," he said.

The investment from Intel will help erase the delay between when new hardware is introduced and when Linux can take advantage of it, Augustin said. "When the processor system is available, you will be able to to buy Linux systems from day one," he said.

VA Research has also acquired the coveted domain name for use as a portal site dedicated to the Unix-like operating system.

Intel's Linux-related investment, on the heels of similar announcements, furthers the chipmaker's support of operating systems other than those developed by Microsoft.

In another boost for Linux, Silicon Graphics and Hewlett-Packard are also supporting the fast-growing OS this week. Intel said HP will contribute operating system kernel expertise and system optimization technologies, and SGI will provide operating system and compiler technologies the effort to port Linux to Merced.

SGI has also made part of its OpenGL 3-D graphics system available to the open-source community--the group of programmers who have helped make Linux successful. Additionally, SGI is working with Red Hat and others to make OpenGL useful when running on Linux.

In a related news, database maker Oracle plans to make an unspecified equity investment in Red Hat Software, according to the Wall Street Journal. Red Hat sells the operating system along with customer support.

Red Hat chief executive Robert Young declined to comment on the deal today, but he did say to expect interesting news next week.

Although VA Research faces increased competition as giants such as IBM, Compaq Computer, Dell Computer, and HP join the Linux trend, the company is holding its own. VA, for example, was able to offer new Pentium III-based systems Friday--timed with the debut of the new chip.