Compaq looks to boost its Linux arsenal

Trying to bolster its reputation in the fast-changing Linux world, Compaq Computer will release software designed to make Linux computers better able to withstand crashes or other interruptions.

Trying to bolster its reputation in the fast-changing Linux world, Compaq Computer will release software designed to make Linux computers better able to withstand crashes or other interruptions

The company will release underpinnings of "single system image" software, which lets programs run on several different servers, and later it will release the SSI software itself, said Mike Winkler, executive vice president of Compaq's global business units, in a news conference Monday.

SSI software fools programs into thinking that a collection, or "cluster," of servers is actually a single machine. If one server crashes, the others pick up the slack and the programs can keep running. This setup also allows for easier removal of a server for upgrades or repairs, and new servers can be added to a cluster to keep up with growing computing demands.

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Compaq's clustering software, celebrated by analysts as top-notch, is used in Compaq's Tru64 version of Unix and Caldera International's UnixWare.

The move was among a host of announcements from Compaq as it looks to improve its reputation in the quickly morphing world of Linux. IBM has pledged to spend $1 billion on Linux this year. And Hewlett-Packard and Dell both have declared Linux to be one of their "strategic" operating systems, on par with Windows in some product lines.

Winkler declined to estimate how much Compaq is spending on Linux. "We do not give an overall figure. It's spread in a lot of different parts of the company, from Proliant to Alpha systems, many software groups, service and support organizations, and training and educational groups."

Compaq's clustering technology will be released under a license similar to the General Public License that covers Linux, said Gary Campbell, president and chief technology officer of Compaq's Enterprise Server group. The company is working with Linux sellers--including Red Hat, SuSE and Turbolinux--to encourage adoption of the software.

Compaq also released software that will let Linux software written for computers running on Compaq's Alpha chips work on Alpha systems that actually are running Tru64 Unix.

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