Bigger, Better Linux

Linux 2.6 to handle more memory, threads and storage options.

Users of Linux databases are drooling over the list of features promised by the forthcoming upgrade to the Linux kernel, Version 2.6.

The Linux 2.6 production kernel, expected to be released later this year, will enable Linux to handle big, enterprise-class database applications. New features integrated into the main kernel will spare users the need to adopt them as back-ported capabilities in the 2.4 production kernel. Such abilities include support for much larger amounts of memory, support for a larger number of threads, improved networking performance, increased storage and types of storage, and better volume management.

Tim Kuchlein, director of IS at Clarity Payment Solutions Inc., a developer of prepaid electronic payment systems, said the ability for the kernel to support extra memory will enable his company to work its database like Google—running on all memory, all the time.

Clarity will soon move to the IBM DB2 8.1 database running on Red Hat Inc.s version of Linux. To get it all running with maximum affordable memory, managers plan to move to a 64-bit architecture and, to that end, are checking out Advanced Micro Devices Inc.s 64-bit architecture.

The move could mean that Clarity could kiss writing to disk goodbye. "We want to have as much memory in our systems as we can," said Kuchlein, in New York.

The ability to support 64 bits isnt new to the Linux kernel, but the affordability of 64-bit boxes is, Kuchlein said. "Only recently have you been able to buy hardware without having to mortgage your life to make use of [64 bits]," he said. Kuchlein has priced IBM pSeries servers with 16GB of memory at about $230,000, compared with AMD boxes with two CPUs and 8GB that sell for about $6,150.