Melbourne uni drops Unix for Linux

Linux-based portal already in production

The University of Melbourne's University Systems Project is set to undergo its largest transformation since its launch four years ago with the core Unix systems to be replaced by Linux by the end of the year.

As reported by Computerworld, the university announced in 2004 it had implemented one of the world's first "stretched" clusters whereby two geographically separated systems transparently host its online financial accounting application.

The system was built with Alpha-based HP Tru64 Unix systems, which will be supported until 2011, but will be migrated to Red Hat Linux on Intel servers as soon as October, according to the university's test team leader John Soper.

While uncertain as to what type of server hardware will be used, Soper said some trial machines are already in place.

This move is in keeping with the information services division's original roadmap - to use AlphaServer Unix technology and look at Linux on Intel after a few more years of development.

At the time, the decision to purchase Alpha was made when there was no equivalent technology available with the same price-performance, according to IT staff.

In the meantime, new applications, like the student portal, are being deployed on Linux.

The new Oracle-based portal went live last month and brings in single sign-on for a number of applications. Students have access to e-mail and news, and can administer their personal and course details online.

To test its burgeoning fleet of online applications, the university purchased HP's LoadRunner tool and has had "major traction from that", according to Soper.

LoadRunner identified a number of issues with sessions crashing and ensured an upgrade progressed without disruption to its business processes.

"The next step from that was when we implemented HR, payroll and student self service and we did a lot of scripting for the tuning of those components to see that they were going to run successfully as well," Soper said. "We used LoadRunner with to see if there was appropriate memory available and for capacity planning."

The university's policy was to use everything out of the box, but in reality that means considerable customization, Soper said.

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