UpFRONT

Stop the Presses, LJ Index and more.
LJ Index—June 2001
  1. Trillions of dollars lost by investors when the dot-com bubble burst: 4.6

  2. Sum in billions of dollars in cash held by Microsoft: 30

  3. Cash-holdings position of Microsoft among all US corporations: 1

  4. Position Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer expect subscriptions (e.g., those from HailStorm) to hold among future revenue sources for Microsoft: 1

  5. Longest uptime in days, currently recorded by the Linux Counter Project: 434

  6. Number of Linux machines reading mail by OCR for the US Postal Service: 900

  7. Female percentage of LinuxCertified.com students: 5-8

  8. Percent of federal computing installations that already used Linux in 1998: 25

  9. Number of Compaq Alpha workstations in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) Forecast Systems Laboratory's new Linux Beowulf cluster: 277

  10. Number of other Linux-based clusters at the same laboratory: 2

  11. Power multiplier of NOAA's new system over previous cluster: 20

  12. Sum in billions of dollars in cash held by Dell: 8

  13. Percentage rate per week at which component prices are falling in May 2001, according to Dell: 1

  14. Days of inventory Dell keeps on hand: 3

  15. Position of SGI 1450 Server with DB2 UDB EEE v7.2 running IBM DB2 UDB EEE 7.2 on Linux 2.4.3 in the Transaction Processing Performance Council's TCP-H (a decision support) benchmark in May 2001: 1

Sources:
  • 1-4: Business Week

  • 5-6: Linux Counter Project

  • 7: LinuxCertified.com

  • 8-14: CNN.com

  • 15: Transaction Processing Performance Council (http://www.tpc.org/)

O'Reilly Perl Conference 5

Don't forget the Annual Perl Community Gathering—The O'Reilly Perl Conference 5 held July 23-27, 2001 in San Diego, California. As their web site says: “The O'Reilly Perl Conference has been a mainstay of Perl culture since 1997, gathering the leaders and young guns of Perl in an unequaled meeting of minds. TPC, as it is known, is a place where all Perl programmers can learn and share in the fun and diversity that is Perl.” See http://conferences.oreilly.com/perl/ for more details.

Stop the Presses: the Penguin Element

Microprocessors and operating systems are companion technologies, but storytellers (folks like us) usually treat the characters separately—even given major exceptions like Wintel and PowerPC. Now, as we look toward next-generation 64-bit chips from Intel and AMD, the stories tend to be about what those companies are doing vs. each other, rather than with the communities of developers surrounding the operating systems that put CPUs to work.

As we go to press, Intel's Itanium (aka IA-64) is rolling into production, almost exactly seven years after Intel and Hewlett-Packard announced the partnership that would work on the new chip design, which reportedly began its life in HP's labs as “PA-RISC Wide-Word”. The new joint design was code-named Merced and later given its elementine brand name. Sun Microsystems came to market with its UltraSPARC III 64-bit processor last fall, but that's bound to be less interesting to the Linux community than both Itanium and AMD's Sledgehammer, currently slated for release about a year from now.

But Itanium is here. As Linley Gwennap says, “Changes in servers never happen fast. But with Itanium now a reality, Intel's dominance is only a matter of time.”

And what operating system will most help achieve this dominance? The top press release linked from Intel's Itanium index page is titled “Intel Itanium-Based Systems Poised For Production”, and says this about operating systems:

Four operating systems will support Itanium-based systems, including the Microsoft Windows* platform (64-bit Edition* for workstations and 64-bit Windows Advanced Server Limited Edition 2002* for servers); Hewlett-Packard's HP-UX 11i v1.5*, IBM's AIX-5L* and Linux. Caldera International, Red Hat, SuSE Linux and Turbolinux plan to provide 64-bit versions of the Linux operating system. [The asterisks disclaim ownership of various name brands.]

Note the future tense employed by the operative verb phrase here: will support.

On May 29, SuSE announced SuSE Linux 7.2 for IA-64 and Red Hat announced Red Hat Linux 7.1 for the Itanium Processor. The next day Turbolinux announced Turbolinux Operating System 7 for the Itanium. All three expressed availability in the present tense. At this writing, three of the four headlines among Intel's Itanium “news and events” involve Linux. The fourth is “Microsoft Unveils Plans for 64-Bit Windows Platform”.

As for hardware, SGI announced (also on May 29) Silicon Graphics 750 system for Linux, which it called “The First Itanium Processor-Based System Using Linux”. IBM also said it was building the second of the world's fastest Linux supercomputers at NCSA by clustering Itanium-based boxes with Turbolinux. It's due to be installed this summer.

Credit should be spread in many directions, but perhaps that can be done at once by pointing to the Trillian Project (now called LinuxIA64.org at http://linuxia64.org/), which began in May 1999 and brought together Caldera, CERN, Cygnus (now Red Hat), HP, Intel, Linuxcare, NEC, SGI, Turbolinux and VA Linux. Most of those organizations now have something to show for the effort.

So, it's already hard to imagine that Itanium's success won't be due largely to its adoption as a penguin element.

—Doc Searls

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