Novell tackles mainframe Linux issues

Suse Linux can be installed just like any other virtual machine operating system, the company claims
Written by Peter Judge, Contributor

Novell has anounced a pre-built "starter" system for Suse Linux Enterprise Server, which will eliminate the complicated procedure normally required to get Linux going on a mainframe, the company claims.

Available from Friday, Suse Linux Enterprise Server Starter System for System z provides a pre-configured disk image that installs like any other system z service, into a virtual machine, using standard mainframe tools, according to Novell.

"Typically, distributions are delivered on DVD, but mainframes find it hard to recognise DVD drives," said Steve Harris, senior sales director for open-source products at Novell in the UK. "Historically, system admins have had to install an image on a Linux box and then do awkward stuff to find that image and install it."

Linux on mainframes is expanding, as customers move to get the best value from a system that needs to be used efficiently, said Harris, and Suse has about 80 percent of the mainframe Linux market.

IBM welcomed the product and will be using it to sell Suse Linux more widely. Although IBM already sells Red Hat Linux on its z series mainframes, this starter kit would "expand mainframe compatibility and ease of use", said Carol Stafford, vice president of worldwide System z sales at IBM.

The system, developed for Novell by Sine Nomine Associates, will be part of the Suse distribution and therefore free, and will include utilities and configuration tools to easily create an installation server.

Suse, bought by Novell in 2004, has a long history in mainframe Linux, starting out 10 miles from IBM's mainframe research centre in Germany, and developing what it claims is the first mainframe Linux.

Despite Novell's widely publicised Linux deal with Microsoft, IBM is Novell's biggest strategic partner worldwide, said Harris.

Red Hat did not comment before publication time.

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