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LinuxWorld 2008

What’s new at LinuxWorld 2008? Some things might surprise you. This story gives you an overview of IBM’s Linux announcements and offers some photos of the event, in case you missed it. Linux on Power Systems or System z servers seems to be a hot new trend that you’ll want to check out.

What’s new at LinuxWorld 2008? Some things might surprise you. This story gives you an overview of IBM’s Linux announcements and offers some photos of the event, in case you missed it. Linux on Power Systems or System z servers seems to be a hot new trend

I’m still trying to recover from all the fun (see Photo 1) I had at LinuxWorld in San Francisco last month. Some of the innovations coming out of the conference are astounding. I want to share specifically some important IBM innovations. While IBM didn’t win an award this year, some of the innovations it brought to the table were bold and exciting.

IBM has found many customers are moving Linux to Power Systems to simplify their computing environments by collapsing the Web or application tiers with the back-end database tiers. UNIX, Linux and IBM i customers are choosing a shared infrastructure computing model to increase their asset utilization, simplify their environment, and drive down cost of operations, management and energy. That value proposition is winning in the marketplace as businesses move Linux compute tiers usually found on x86 - in addition to Sun and HP UNIX - to the Power Systems shared-infrastructure model. IBM’s presence at the conference was strongly felt.


At the IBM booth, IBMer Stephen Moros (see Photo 2) took some time to share with me many of the recent IBM/Linux innovations, particularly IBM iDataPlex ( This product provides value while helping the environment by achieving optimum energy efficiencies. In my view, iDataPlex (see Photo 3) is the absolute fusion of technology and environmental concerns, and really shows IBM at its best.

Designed for System x architecture as a new category of server for Web 2.0 computing, it provides up to 40-percent increased power efficiencies. It can dramatically cut or even eliminate the cooling costs of air conditioning. IBM used a process called thermal analysis to test and create the iDataPlex. The company says it can increase server density by up to 240 percent by using the IBM Rear Door Heat eXchanger, which virtually eliminates heat coming off the racks. Even more impressive is that the system can run with no air conditioning at all, when used with a water-cooled option. Customers can order 22 possible configurations of the iDataPlex, with a potpourri of networking, storage and server options. Highly customizable configurations are important to clients who require maximum adaptable flexibility. Along these lines, IBM designed the solution with its Flexible Node Technology, which allows for these customer configurations. Manageability is also key, and all rack-mounted servers can be controlled with special management software designed specifically for the iDataPlex. The rack has a standard footprint and front-access cabling.

Desktop Advances

I also picked up a copy of Canonical's Ubuntu Desktop Edition 8.04 LTS, which won the LinuxWorld award for Best Desktop Solution (see Photo 4). I've always liked this distribution and felt it was better on the desktop that anything Novell or Red Hat offered. The LTS stands for Long-term Support, and the extended multi-year support will make it easier to deploy Lotus Notes and Lotus Domino on an open platform.

IBM also announced that in 2009, together with Novell, Red Hat and Canonical, it’ll offer a preloaded software stack of its Open Collaboration Client Solution (OCCS). In doing this, customers can get Lotus Notes with the distributors version of Linux. I was very impressed with IBM’s new desktop push. The popularity of IBM OCCS has really taken off during the past year. IBM executive Bob Sutter (see Photo 5) delivered an impressive presentation on his ideas of the desktop of the future. He started by making fun of the frequent claim that “this is the year of Linux on the desktop” but then went into detail about how he uses Linux for pretty much everything he does at work.

For years, folks have discussed how to take on the Microsoft gorilla. I believe that if IBM really has the will to market this product, it could really have a decent chance to dethrone the folks in Redmond. We should all remember how IBM once owned the desktop before literally handing the keys to what would become the PC operating system empire to Microsoft. Malcolm Yates, VP of Canonical, stated that the company was excited about distributing Lotus Symphony from the Canonical online store. His feeling was that being able to integrate enterprise products like Lotus Notes and Symphony allowed him to present more creative solutions to companies looking to migrate off Windows.

And More

Other IBM announcements included:

  • Providing open source software for supercomputers based on Linux. Included in the new stack is IBM’s Extreme Cluster Administration Toolkit (xCAT) (, which is currently used to manage the world’s most powerful computer, a cluster built at the Los Alamos National Nuclear Facility in New Mexico.
  • Enabling ISVs to deliver Linux-based applications for small and mid-sized businesses through an ISV software appliance toolkit.
  • A new release of z/VM 5.4 on the mainframe, which allows users of Linux on System z to benefit from memory upgrade features. I still find it fascinating that people don't know you can run Linux on a mainframe. It actually works quite well in that environment, and many of the larger companies today have made decisions to consolidate their entire environments around Linux on System z, including IBM. Talk about putting your money where your mouth is!
  • A new version of WebSphere Application Server Community Edition (WAS CE), based on the popular open source Apache Geronimo. WAS CE Version 2.1 makes it easier to develop, deploy and manage applications, and includes enhanced server monitoring capabilities.

Project Big Green

IBM also hosted a networking event for its business partners at the W Hotel. One of the topics presented was how to leverage IBM's experience in implementing its $1 billion investment in Project Big Green. Folks from Red Hat, Novell and IDC discussed the issues around Linux and Project Big Green. IBM also demonstrated the capabilities of its Power Systems servers and how PowerVM can be used to run both AIX and Linux in separate LPARs in the same physical server.

Migrating to Linux on Power Systems servers (or even on System z) lets organizations scale vertically and move away from the distributed technology that was so trendy in the '80s and '90s. Availability, scalability, performance and, ultimately, cost are driving organizations to consider a Linux adoption. Linux is a natural solution during this time of the proliferation of server and data-center consolidation projects.

Michele Silver is the director of client relations at IBM business partner PowerTCO and a member of the NY Metro Power AIX & Linux Users Group communications committee. She's also a technology writer, photographer and photojournalist.

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