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Red Hat, Intel plan 17 development centers

Companies will open centers where customers and partners can ensure their software and hardware hum along on Linux.

BOSTON--Intel and Red Hat announced plans Tuesday to open more than a dozen centers where customers and business partners can make sure their software works well on Linux and the latest hardware.

The companies announced plans to open three major centers at Red Hat offices and 14 smaller satellite facilities so that programmers can get their software working with new features such as virtualization, which lets several operating systems run simultaneously on the same computer to increase efficiency. Virtualization employs hardware and software not commonly available at customer sites, said Dirk Hohndel, director of Linux and open-source strategy at Intel.

LinuxWorld Boston 2006 roundup

"It's very hard for small, value-added resellers to get access to both prerelease hardware and an already adapted version of the operating system," Hohndel said in an interview at the LinuxWorld Conference and Expo here. "This is a direct solution to run the next, latest and greatest thing."

The partnership also will focus on support for Red Hat's Global File System, said Bret Hunter, Red Hat's director of partner marketing.

Such centers, while common in the computing industry, highlight the gradually maturing nature of the Linux development marketplace. In early days, it was common for Linux software to support new hardware features months later than Windows.

Intel is working to make sure Linux programmers such as Linux leader Linus Torvalds are in the vanguard, though. "Linus has a 'Merom' system now and just loves it," Hohndel said, referring to the next-generation dual-core processor for laptops Intel plans to launch next quarter.

The Red Hat software centers will feature servers using "Woodcrest," the server processor equivalent, Hohndel said. And when those systems ship with a feature called Intel Input/Output Acceleration technology, RHEL will support it in an update to the current version, he said.

Several Intel processors support the virtualization feature that enables easier virtualization, and they support mainstream servers to bring the technology to a wider market this quarter. Intel rival Advanced Micro Devices is lagging, but is demonstrating its comparable AMD-V feature at the show here and plans to release its chips supporting the feature in months.

Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5, due by the end of the year, and its rival, Suse Linux Enterprise Server 10, due by midsummer, both include the Xen software that provides support for virtualization.