Anyone can download and compile the new kernel, which was released Thursday. But those who are looking for a PC maker to do the work for them are going to have to wait at least 60 days, until PC makers begin pre-loading the new operating system on their hardware.
The reason? Historically, PC makers have partnered with Linux distributors to provide the operating system to their customers. So in keeping with this model, many PC makers, including IBM and Dell Computer, will wait for their Linux distribution partners to incorporate the 2.4 kernel before making it available to customers or pre-loading it on new hardware.
IBM, for example, supports four different Linux distributions: Caldera Systems, Red Hat, SuSE and TurboLinux.
"They are all testing and working to include the 2.4 kernel into their distributions," said Dan Frye, director of IBM's Linux Technology Center.
This process, which should include beta releases of the distributions, should take between 60 and 90 days, Frye said.
"When those distributions come out, they will be made available on IBM systems," Frye said.
IBM, of Armonk, N.Y., will first support the new distributions on its hardware, meaning it will offer technical support for new and existing hardware. It will begin pre-installing the new Linux version distributions on its various hardware at a later date. Frye said he expects only a small lag between the two stages.
Dell, based in Round Rock, Texas, is taking a similar approach. It plans to wait for its Linux distribution partner, Red Hat to incorporate the Linux 2.4 kernel.
"Red Hat is our partner for Linux. So as soon as (2.4) is available in Red Hat's Linux distribution, it will be made available to our customers," said David Graves, Dell's spokesman for Linux.
It is expected that most PC makers will follow this route.
San Diego-based Gateway, for example, does not offer set Linux-based configurations on PCs or servers. However, the company does install Red Hat Linux on its hardware under its Custom Integration Services program.
Customers who wish to take advantage of the 2.4 kernel will be able to obtain it via the program, once the new Red Hat distribution is made available, a company spokeswoman said.
Meanwhile, a spokesman at Micron Electronics, said the company would support Linux 2.4 in time but does not offer Linux pre-loaded on its hardware at the moment.
PC makers are also expected to let Red Hat handle support for those customers who are looking to upgrade to the new Linux.
Hewlett-Packard and Compaq Computer did not immediately return calls.