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IBM Mainframe Computers to Carry Linux

Hardware: Move shows acceptance of system by corporate users.

May 17, 2000|JOSEPH MENN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

IBM said Tuesday that it will begin installing and supporting the Linux operating system on its large mainframe computers, in yet another sign of Linux's growing acceptance by corporate users.

Linux, the free operating system that was developed by a network of volunteers, has been gaining ground against Microsoft's Windows and other traditional software for running large computers or servers.

IBM has said it will make all of its business products compatible with Linux; it previously made the system an option on its smaller servers.

Today, IBM will officially announce its willingness to service the Linux operating system on its mainstay S/390 mainframe computers. It will work with two Linux providers, TurboLinux Inc. and SuSE Linux.

IBM shares rose $4.81 to close at $109 on the New York Stock Exchange.

"It brings together two really important worlds: the very reliable, secure, scalable IBM mainframes, which are behind the walls of just about every major corporation in the world, with Linux," said John Patrick, IBM vice president of Internet technology.

It's the first support for Linux on a mainframe computer maker and "probably the most significant commitment by an [information technology] vendor," Patrick said.

The step "is certainly at least a move toward trying to give Linux [more] credibility" among Fortune 500 clients, said Goldman, Sachs & Co. analyst Laura Conigliaro.

But she said there will be no mad rush to adopt Linux at big companies.

"What sells the S/390 is the drivers and 'middleware' and support, a panoply that has taken many years to put into that package," Conigliaro said. It will be a while before Linux is as thoroughly backed up, she said.

TurboLinux Director of Marketing Bill Peterson said IBM's move will help persuade more developers to work on Linux software for a greater variety of business customers.

"We're going to see more and more applications porting to Linux, and they will be at a lot cheaper price point," Peterson said. "It now has the opportunity to be introduced on a much higher level."

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