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IBM zips up Linux deal

YKK, the largest maker of zippers, will use a Linux-only IBM server to run an Internet site to let customers track orders, the companies will announce.

YKK, the largest maker of zippers, will use a Linux-only IBM server to run an Internet site to let customers track orders, the companies will announce Thursday.

YKK America will use an iSeries server, a special-purpose machine typically sold in conjunction with software, to run a Web site where customers can place and check orders and monitor inventory. The company will use IBM's Linux-only iSeries product, the lower-end i820 that can accommodate one to four processors and can run as many as 15 instances of Linux simultaneously.

Versions of Linux from SuSE, Red Hat and Turbolinux run on the iSeries models. YKK is using SuSE's edition.

IBM and Linux make an odd couple. IBM has a vast portfolio of patents and other intellectual property and enjoys profiting from that proprietary information. Linux, by contrast, is an open-source project, meaning that its underlying software may be used, modified, shared or redistributed by anyone.

But IBM has embraced Linux, trumpeting the Unix-like operating system louder than rivals Sun Microsystems, Hewlett-Packard and Dell Computer. Big Blue even created a Web site with amorous penguins and other offbeat Linux animations featuring Tux, the Linux mascot.