Gateway unveils Linux-based server 'appliance'

Gateway has jumped into the PC server appliance market, announcing a pair of Linux-based devices that can handle Internet access, e-mail and file sharing for small businesses and franchises or branch offices of larger companies.

The new Gateway Micro Server models run on an embedded 64-bit RISC processor made by MIPS Computer Systems and can be installed in as little as 30 minutes, Gateway said. The Linux operating system is hidden from end users, who only see the built-in Internet and e-mail applications. The devices start at $US1,299 and are intended to support up to 100 users, although Gateway said more could be handled for simple e-mail uses.

Al Gillen, an analyst at IDC, said Gateway appears to be one of the first vendors to come out with server appliances built around Linux. But one of the most popular uses of Linux with companies that are adopting the Windows alternative is in single-function applications similar to the appliance concept, he said.

Linux "is an inexpensive operating system and a simple package to put together with a piece of hardware," Gillen said. Many users also don't yet have enough confidence in the stability of Linux to go beyond appliance-like uses, he added.

Gateway's appliances start at $US1,299 for a model with 32M bytes of memory and a 10G-byte disk drive. A second device, with double the memory and disk capacities, is $US1,499. Gateway's announcement comes one day after Dell Computer announced a deal to bundle Red Hat Software's version of Linux with all of its current and future PC servers.

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