HP to sell homemade version of Linux

Hewlett-Packard Co. will step out on its own and begin selling its own version of Linux, focusing on creating what it calls an ultra-secure version of the operating system instead of relying on partner distributions as it has in the past.

The open source Linux OS has enjoyed wide adoption on servers and workstations with a number of vendors such as Red Hat Inc. selling their flavors of the OS to customers. HP and other major hardware sellers often bundle a version of Linux outsourced from Linux OS specialists with their products.

HP, however, has decided to develop an in-house version of Linux -- named HP Secure OS Software for Linux -- with a special focus on making the operating system more secure. Linux has been championed as a highly scalable operating system, but HP says customers such as telecommunications companies are looking for a more secure version of Linux that could run on their Web servers, according to an HP representative.

The company will make its Linux distribution available on HP servers as well as other non-HP hardware that passes qualification tests. HP will also offer a host of consulting services around the operating system to help make sure customers take advantage of the security features in the product.

HP will sell its version of Linux for about US$3,000 per server and begin shipping the product next week, according to the representative.

The HP Linux will come with a "virtual compartment" that helps prevent unauthorized communication between programs, networks and files. This feature should lower security risks for users managing information with different sensitivity levels on the same server.

The new software will also come with a detection system for alerting administrators about hacking attempts and a containment feature that locks a hacked program, preventing it from damaging applications or launching other attacks, according to HP.

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