Linux and Informix

The availability of Informix SE for Linux was announced at the International Informix Users Group conference, July 22-24, 1998.

I spent the last three days (July 22-24) at the International Informix Users Group meeting. What I saw and heard were some of the most significant announcements related to Linux yet. Why? For a host of reasons.

First, Informix didn't announce that something would happen in the future—they announced and delivered on the same day. Informix SE is available for Linux now. In fact, at the conference, you could pick up a free copy of Informix SE for Caldera or S.u.S.E. Linux at the Linux pavilion. (If you weren't there, check out http://www.informix.com/informix/products/lx.html for download instructions.) Also at the Linux pavilion were Caldera, Linux International, Linux Journal, Red Hat and S.u.S.E. Caldera, Red Hat and S.u.S.E. were giving out copies of their OS, and we were giving out Linux Journal issues. That meant you could pick up everything you needed at the show to create a Linux/Informix SE system—all for free.

A word of explanation is in order about which versions of Linux will run Informix. Reality is that it would probably work fine on Slackware and Debian, as well as Caldera and S.u.S.E. Red Hat has recently upgraded to glibc and is buggy enough that Informix would not run properly. Within the next few months, glibc should be working properly and it will be time for everyone to move to it—distribution vendors as well as applications vendors.

The second important thing about the announcement is that it immediately brings applications to Linux. Apropos Software makes a retail point-of-sale system. As of the show, they started shipping their 1.2 million-line Informix application on Linux. By the time you read this article in Linux Journal, I expect there will be many more vendors who have announced applications running on Linux/Informix.

The third important thing is how serious the Informix management is about this port. At the press conference, the Linux port was the first announcement. They then fielded a series of questions from the press. Their responses showed me that Informix knew a lot more about Linux than the press did. For example, one journalist from France asserted that this Linux announcement must be a “marketing trick”. Diane Fraiman, VP of Marketing for Informix, assured him that it was not and went on to explain how a Linux port benefited the average Informix user and VAR.

More specifically, here are some answers from questions asked at the press conference:

  • They did the port because of pressure from user group members.

  • The Informix SE port would give new life to VARs with a current product.

  • Informix now has a trained Linux staff, so they could port another product such as the Informix Dynamic Server in 90 to 120 days.

  • When questioned about the maturity of Linux in the enterprise market, Mike Saranga, Senior Vice President of Product Management and Development, said, “We have been waiting for two years for NT to mature. NT is starting to get there.” He went on to say that Linux is maturing rapidly.

I have left the best for last. This is a universal message about why Linux is the next platform to which many vendors will port.

I met with Stephen Lambright, Director of Server Product Marketing in a one-on-one session. I set up the appointment before I went to the press briefing, because I didn't expect much coverage of the Linux port. Clearly, I was wrong, but I did have one big question left.

I asked Steve how hard it was to port Informix to Linux. He told me that they just typed make. There was not a single line of code changed to make Informix SE run on Linux. He went on to say they did spend a lot of time testing the port, and everything still worked with no changes. I asked around, and apparently the port began with the Solaris version of Informix SE.

This one item is the most important happening for Linux—it helps give us an idea of how much work it will be to do the port. The time has arrived for all of us to start asking vendors to port their software to Linux.

If you haven't yet, check out the Linux Software Wish List on the Linux Resources web page (http://www.linuxresources.com/). The more you put on that page, the more ammunition we have when we contact vendors to encourage Linux ports.

Look for a review of Informix SE in Linux Journal next month.

______________________

Phil Hughes

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