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Little love lost on Linux

IBM is expected to release this spring a version of Linux for the iSeries 400. Within the 400 community, there's been a bit of a buzz about the open source Unix cousin, but it remains to be seen how effective this operating system will be with the midrange platform. Search400 Assistant News Editor Edward Hurley talked with Tom Bittman, an analyst with the Stamford-based Gartner Group, about IBM's decision to offer Linux on the iSeries 400 and if the implementation of the operating system will be worth the effort.

Those numbers seem a bit scant. Why, then, is IBM going full-speed ahead with this release?
IBM may be banking on the publicity of the offering to help attract people to the platform. Moreover, offering Linux on the platform can be seen as a way for IBM to dispel perceptions of the iSeries as closed and proprietary. Why would iSeries shops want Linux for their machines?
I don't think AS/400 users have necessarily asked for Linux but it's (Linux-based) applications that are leading this. The number one application by far is Apache, the Web server. I would say 75% to 80% of people running Linux will be for Apache. I would imagine running Apache on Linux would have some security benefits since it will be a separate environment, a separate operating system. Most AS/400 users aren't wedded to their hardware as much to their programs and OS/400. If IBM decided to make OS/400 run on Intel servers than most people would go along with it. But if the company said it was going to phase out OS/400 and put AIX on the boxes then there would be a revolt. They are reliant on OS/400. Why run Linux on the iSeries instead of setting up a cheaper Intel-based box for Web serving?
Running Linux will make for tighter integration and management than running two separate machines. But the iSeries will be an expensive Linux server. I haven't heard of a new pricing plan for running Linux on the iSeries. IBM did offer such a plan when it unveiled Linux on the S/390 (zSeries (900). Apache (running on Linux) is a Band-Aid, a tact-on, an add-on. It really amounts to a LAN in a box. There is not a really big gap here as there are Web serving options for the AS/400. Can bringing Linux to the iSeries be seen as a sign of support for the platform?
IBM is hoping to give the machine a little more cache. It was similar with Java. Some people looked at the machine because it could do Java even if they didn't have any plans of using it themselves. Is Big Blue just buying into hype about Linux?
IBM has put Linux up on a pedestal of importance. The company is using it to provide application flexibility between all its eServers. The iSeries had to participate in that. The company had no choice. Will it run in a LPAR (logical partition)? Will Linux applications run like Unix applications with PASE (Portable Application Solutions Environment)?
My first assumption was Linux going to run with PASE. But Linux is going to run in its own LPAR. That way it would somewhat be shielded from the rest of the system. (Running in an LPAR) will provide a more complete Linux environment while PASE is just runtime. You don't get the experience of AIX. How many users do you expect to implement Linux on the iSeries 400?
We're estimating only 3% of new systems and less than 1% of installed machines, will be used for Linux.

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