VA Linux to Let Buyers Preconfigure Servers

FRAMINGHAM (08/15/2000) - VA Linux Systems Inc. in Sunnyvale, Calif., is launching a service that will let buyers of Linux workstations and servers preconfigure their machines with a wide range of software options.

The news came on the eve of the LinuxWorld show, which opens in San Jose Tuesday.

VA Linux's new service, called the Build-to-Order Software Selector, lets customers choose which software components they want preinstalled. They can also save different software profiles. While the service will initially offer little more than the basic Linux operating system, the Apache Web server and Samba file-and-print server, it will be expanded to include all open-source software that's hosted on VA Linux's SourceForge site -- currently, a total of 7,000 projects.

"We're extending to software what Dell does for hardware," said VA Linux President and CEO Larry Augustin. By the end of this year, VA Linux will also be able to preinstall customers' own custom software, Augustin said.

A similar offering for Microsoft Windows would be hard to offer because Microsoft's licensing conditions give OEMs only a limited ability to modify which software is preinstalled, he added.

Stacey Quandt, an analyst at Giga Information Group Inc. in Santa Clara, Calif., said the service will allow VA Linux to deliver very granular built-to-order hardware and software that leverage the company's successful SourceForge site. She said she believes the VA Linux announcement is likely to be one of the key news items to come from the LinuxWorld show -- although many major vendors are also expected to make big Linux-related announcements.

Also at LinuxWorld:

Hewlett-Packard Co. said it now considers Linux one of its three strategic operating systems, together with Windows 2000 and HP-UX and announced that it's committed to making the four major Linux distributions available on all its Intel-based servers and commercial desktops. HP said Linux binaries will run on the version of HP-UX that's being developed for Intel's Itanium processor.

IBM similarly announced that it will run Linux binaries on the Dynix/ptx operating system that powers its NUMA-Q servers. IBM has already committed to running Linux binaries on its own AIX operating system and the forthcoming 64-bit Monterey operating system and offers a version of Linux that runs on its S/390 mainframes.

IBM also announced packaged clusters of its Intel-based Netfinity servers running Linux. The clusters will ship in the fourth quarter. They will initially feature basic IP-clustering ability, but IBM said it will make more advanced high-availability clustering technology from its RS/6000 SP product line available for Linux sometime next year.

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