PowerPC Linux Vendors Are Sticking with It

Apple is leaving the PowerPC chip family behind, but Linux on Power vendors, Terra Soft, Red Hat and Novell/SuSE are staying with the IBM chip family.

Apple may be moving away from IBMs PowerPC chips, but Linux vendors are sticking with the POWER architecture.

On Monday, Steve Jobs rocked the Mac world by announcing that Apple would be migrating Mac OS X from the PowerPC architecture to Intel designs in the next few years. The PPC (PowerPC) and POWER Linux vendors, though, arent budging an inch.

Kai Staats, CEO of Terra Soft Solutions Inc., makers of the most popular PowerPC-based Linuxes, Yellow Dog Linux, said, "We remain a Linux development company with 100 percent focus on the Power Architecture. We will not transition to support an x86/ia64 architecture."

Staats, in Barcelona, Spain, for the European IBM power.org conference, went on, "Terra Soft remains in good standing with Apple. Their announcement does not immediately affect our ability to sell or support Apple PowerPC hardware."

It also doesnt affect "our ability to support non-Apple Power Architecture offerings. Things are already in motion to enable a world of greater POWER Architecture diversity," said Staats.

IBM has been pushing Linux on POWER with its new Power5-based OpenPower line since the fall of 2004.

/zimages/3/28571.gifClick here to read more about IBMs line of Linux-only servers running on its 64-bit Power5 processor.

The Armonk, N.Y., company rolled out its eServer OpenPower 720, an entry-level four-way server that can run both Red Hat Inc. and Novell Inc.s SuSE divisions Linuxes.

IBM also plans to release a two-way OpenPower system, according to Brian Connors, vice president of IBMs Linux on Power group in 2005.

IBM also supports Linux on its BladeCenter JS20, a blade server with two 64-bit 1.6GHz PowerPC 970 processors.

In addition to these Linux-oriented systems, IBM and its partners are still actively supporting Linux for its Power-based iSeries (AS/400) and pSeries (Rios) server lines.

After all, as Dan Kusnetzky, IDCs VP of system software, says, "PowerPC is still one of IBMs leading platforms."

Novell certainly agrees that Power is here to stay and it will be an important Linux platform.

"The Power Architecture has a very strong price/performance play," said Jeff Hawkins, Novells Linux Business Office VP, in a power.org interview.

"When many organizations look at their computing requirements and have CPU-intensive and I/O intensive applications, they may very well choose Power as the best path for solving those problems," said Hawkins.

"While Novell offers solutions on multiple architectures and x86 is currently the leader in terms of quantity, we fully expect that Power will begin to make significant inroads into that compute infrastructure because of its price/performance."

Red Hat also supports the Power architecture.

Its RHEL (Red Hat Enterprise Linux) AS 3 (update 3) runs on IBMs POWER5-based systems, including the pSeries, iSeries, and OpenPower servers.

The Raleigh, N.C.-based Linux distributor is also working on support for the PowerPC family.

In mid-February, the company announced that it was including PowerPC support in the next version of its community-based Linux distribution, Fedora.

The first PowerPC beta is now available via the BitTorrent protocol.

/zimages/3/28571.gifRead more here about BitTorrent.

Looking forward, Staats is bullish about Linuxs prospects on PowerPC, and PowerPC-based Mac hardware in particular.

"We expect Y-HPC [Yellow Dog Linux-High Performance Computing] to gain an even greater user base with existing Apple Xserve users. Y-HPC offers a Linux OS to help bridge x86/ia64 and PowerPC clusters, reducing effort in code migration and administration."

Bruce Perens, an open-source evangelist, while willing to give Power its due, isnt so sure that the PowerPC market for Linux will be successful, "I think its an interesting market, but I dont think its a really large one."

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