Wrapping Up LinuxWorld

by Don Marti

"I haven't bumped into any tire kickers yet."

John Terpstra of Caldera said this, and it pretty much sums up LinuxWorld New York.

Holger Dyroff of SuSE said, "Up to now Linux was adopted by technicians. Now it's exactly the opposite." CIOs are placing orders for Linux support contracts on IBM mainframes at a rate of 2-3 purchase orders per week and $4,500-$11,500 per contract. SuSE prices its mainframe distribution per switched-on processor on the mainframe because IBM ships them fully loaded and turns on hardware when customers pay for it. About one third of the customers for the mainframe distribution, which has been out for about a year and a half, are banks, Dyroff said.

Expect SuSE to take another step in the "ease-of-installation" race in April. Automatic installation, which many system administrators prefer, might be better documented too.

A lot of new hardware is in evidence. AMD's 64-bit Hammer architecture adds only two instructions to the x86 instruction set and gets more and, of course, bigger registers. AMD is supporting enhancements to the GNU development tools to enable performance improvements on Hammer, said AMD Fellow and Manager of software R&D, Wayne Meretsky.

The big difference between Hammer and Athlon on the hardware side is that the bottleneck North Bridge is gone, and the memory controller will move onto the processor. With one memory controller per processor, memory bandwidth will increase with number of processors, Meretsky said. Processors in SMP systems will be able to see each other's memory over HyperTransport connections. HyperTransport will also provide the link to PCI-X bridges, the South Bridge, future HyperTransport SCSI and Ethernet chips and InfiniBand.

21 Linux Hosts in a Blade Server with 20 Slots?

Compaq is showing off a 3U blade server chassis with a capacity of 20 servers, each of which has a 700MHz Pentium III, a 30GB hard drive, up to 1GB of RAM and two network interfaces. Servers plug into the front of the chassis; you can put a pass-through tray that brings all the Ethernet connections out the back, or you can use a managed switch with Gigabit Ethernet on the back.

The extra Linux box in the chassis is the management board, which you can ssh into and access the serial consoles on the blades or manage with Compaq software offerings that also work on other classes of server. The blade servers are available with Red Hat first and will get SuSE and Microsoft Windows later.

The Carrier Grade Linux Working Group bore some tangible fruit as Hewlett-Packard introduced two (a 1U and a 2U) NEBS Level 3-compliant servers for the telco market. And the fashion quotient of HP's booth is raised by a mob of ever-so-stylish 3-D application vendors, whose customers need a new platform to replace Irix. HP is coming to the rescue with a series of excellent 3-D workstations, on the subject of which Linux Journal will have more to say if we can borrow one. We promise we'll take good care of it.

Dog food is good for you. About 75% of Sun Microsystems' 40,000 employees are running the StarOffice 6.0 beta, said the company's "Chief Technology Evangelist", Simon Phipps. Now just think if the companies that do business with Sun start doing it. It could turn into a movement. Also new from Sun is the Cobalt Qube 3 server, which adds new software including StackGuard, FreeSWAN and PPTP VPNs. Just the thing for those far-flung branch offices.

Geoff "Mandrake" Harrison and Kevin A. Lenzo of Cepstral demonstrated their voice synthesis software running on a Sharp Zaurus. Phrasing was so natural that when it read the beginning of "The Raven" by Edgar Allen Poe we were glad the lights were on.

Finally, Ximian gave an impressive demonstration of its Evolution mail client doing calendar and mail tasks with a Microsoft Exchange server over Ximian Connector. The Connector will help Linux users infiltrating our favorite OS into companies now running proprietary mail software, said Ximian CTO Miguel de Icaza.

Don Marti is Technical Editor for Linux Journal.

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