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IBM deal to expand Linux software for Power

Partnership to increase the software available for customers running Linux on servers using Big Blue's Power processors.

SAN FRANCISCO--IBM announced a partnership Tuesday to significantly expand the software available for customers running Linux on servers using Big Blue's Power processors.

The deal is with a start-up called Transitive, whose QuickTransit software translates software created for one computer so it can run on another. In this case, Linux software for mainstream servers using x86 processors such as Intel's Xeon and Advanced Micro Devices' Opteron will run on IBM's Power-based servers, the companies said at the LinuxWorld Conference and Expo here.

Test versions of the software will be ship in the first quarter of 2007, with early trial versions available in the fourth quarter of 2006, said Scott Handy, senior vice president of Linux and open source, at a news conference.

IBM will handle distributing the software. "The QuickTransit server products for IBM will ship as a standard part of selected IBM Power-based servers," Transitive said in a statement.

Translation software cuts both ways, though. At the same time, Intel is working to help Transitive build products that will let customers move software from RISC chips such as Power to x86 chips.

IBM's Power-based systems chiefly run AIX, the company's own version of Unix, but IBM promotes Linux as well. In general, though, Linux remains a novelty outside the x86 arena.

Transitive's software translates applications as they are loaded. It stores frequently used instructions in memory so it doesn't have to constantly retranslate them, but its performance still isn't up to software running natively on the processor it was built for.

It's a useful transition tool, however. It's the foundation of Apple Computer's Rosetta technology, which lets PowerPC software run on newer Apple machines using Intel processors. And Silicon Graphics uses Transitive to help customers migrate from older MIPS processors to Intel Itanium.