IBM Makes Linux Portable

SAN FRANCISCO (06/12/2000) - Windows alternative Linux got a boost Monday when IBM Corp. expanded its support for the operating system, saying it will preload it on upcoming ThinkPad portable computers.

This fall, ThinkPad notebooks will ship preinstalled with Linux software provided by Caldera Systems Inc., according to IBM. On Monday, IBM also said its Linux commitment will include a $6 million development effort to support the creation of Linux applications, as well as to train and certify IBM solution providers to promote Linux products and services.

It is the latest move by a major computer maker to rally behind Linux. Compaq Computer Corp. and Dell Computer Corp. both offer computers that run the operating system.

Dell offers Linux on select models of its OptiPlex and Dimension desktops, as well as on its Latitude and Inspiron notebooks. Dell also offers Linux as an option with its Precision workstations, PowerEdge servers, and PowerApp Servers.

Compaq doesn't officially offer desktop or notebook computers with Linux running on them. However, both the Compaq DeskPro and the Armada notebook computers can be custom-configured with Linux, say company representatives.

Gateway 2000 Inc., through its Built to Order program, does offer Linux on its E-Series business-class desktops. Gateway says its notebook computers are certified to ship with the Linux operating system. Although the vendor doesn't offer a Linux notebook, customers can request that Linux be loaded on their Gateway notebooks.

Linux is available on all of Gateway's servers, from its 8400 Series severs all the way to its Micro Sever series.

Hewlett-Packard Co. supports Linux in its PC NetServers and high-end Visualize workstations and servers. But according to its Web site, Hewlett-Packard doesn't offer a business-class desktop or notebook preconfigured with Linux.

IBM is second in Linux server sales behind Compaq, according to research firm International Data Corp.

IBM also plans to port a SuSE AG server version of Linux to its high-end RS/6000 computer servers, the company announced Monday. The company previously announced Linux support for its S/390 mainframes. Currently, IBM sells Intel-based NetFinity servers that are preloaded with Linux, and IBM intends to add it to other PC systems.

The availability of portables that run Linux has trailed behind desktops mainly because of component compatibility problems and a lack of driver support, according to experts.

(IDG News Service contributed to this report.)

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