Ericsson joins open-source lab

Telecommunications equipment maker L.M. Ericsson Telephone is putting its weight behind an effort to develop a version of Linux tuned for high-octane servers used by network carriers.

Teaming with a list of software and hardware vendors including Hewlett-Packard Co. and Red Hat Inc., Ericsson will assist in designing a set of specifications for the open-source operating system that would enable it to power servers used by companies in the telecommunications sector, such as those used to deliver voice and data over land and wireless networks.

Dubbed carrier-grade Linux, the goal is to boost the power and reliability of Linux so it can be used as an alternative to Unix systems commonly used in the telecommunications industry.

Ericsson, based in Stockholm, has joined a working group that is developing the standard specifications and will ensure that companies meet those requirements for future hardware and software products. It is led by Open Source Development Lab Inc. (OSDL), a nonprofit research lab backed by vendors including Intel Corp. and IBM Corp. The working group is currently developing a wish list of requirements that the server operating systems must include, said Douglas Kolb, OSDL director of marketing. Those include ensuring that the Linux version can handle the required load-balancing and high-availability requirements.

OSDL plans to release a white paper detailing the attributes of the software specifications next month. That will be followed by a draft version of the carrier-grade Linux operating system specifications in August, followed by products based on the specifications as early as the first quarter of 2003, Kolb said.

Linux software maker MontaVista Software Inc., one of more than 20 companies working on the carrier-grade version of the operating system, released in April a version of its Linux software that dons the title "carrier-grade."

However, MontaVista's release is more "in the spirit of the working group," rather than a release that meets the stringent requirements currently being drafted, Kolb said. "It displays a lot of the characteristics that carrier-grade Linux will have, but I can't say that it conforms to the specifications since they haven't been completed," he said.

The Sunnyvale, California, software maker said that its early release of the software tuned for use in the telecommunications industry was driven by customer demand as they look to migrate off legacy Unix systems.

Red Hat's Advanced Server also shares a number of attributes that will be built in to the version of the operating system outlined by OSDL, the company has said.

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