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Torvalds: Linux 2.6 beta coming

Although Linus Torvalds didn't meet a goal to release the upcoming version of the operating system in June, the Linux leader says a test version could come as soon as next week.

Although Linus Torvalds didn't meet a goal to release the upcoming 2.6 version of the Linux operating system in June, the Linux leader said a test version could come as soon as next week.

"I'm planning on starting the so-called 'pre-2.6' series in early July, and that is kind of a beta series," Torvalds said Wednesday in an interview. He and Andrew Morton, the programmer who will maintain the 2.6 version, "are talking about starting a pre-2.6 series next week," Torvalds said.

"It will most likely take a few months after that for the real 2.6.0," he said. "And, as usual, the thing doesn't stop there. It usually takes at least half a year before vendors really switch over."

IBM executives said in June that the company expected products using the 2.6 kernel to be released in the first half of 2004. Previously, they had hoped for the second half of 2003.

Last October, Torvalds said he hoped to launch the 2.6 version by June. Now, he's more guarded.

"Schedules schmedules," Torvalds quipped. "I'm late, and I always am."

Linux, a Unix-like operating system collaboratively created by numerous programmers in the open-source movement, began as a hobby but now is used by numerous companies worldwide. IBM, for example, on Wednesday said financial services firm ING Canada bought an IBM z900 mainframe to run Linux applications. The system will be used to help process increasing amounts of insurance-claim transactions, the companies said.