Red Hat, SuSE Intensify Linux Efforts

The battle for new Linux customers heats up, as both Red Hat's Version 9 and SuSE Linux's Enterprise Server 8 for the Intel Itanium processor family will be available by the end of the month.

The major Linux vendors continue to step up to the plate, offering product upgrades and new functionality as the battle for new customer wins in the lucrative but highly competitive corporate market heats up.

Linux provider Red Hat Inc. is preparing to release the next version of its personal and professional Linux operating system, Red Hat Linux 9. In an e-mail to some customers on Monday, Red Hat said that, beginning March 31, paid subscribers to the Red Hat Network will have access to Red Hat Linux 9 ISOs (images of a CD that users download and then burn to blank CDs as the installation disks) a full week before retail store and Red Hat FTP availability.

"What you might not know is that Red Hat Network passed the one million users mark earlier this year. Weve listened to valuable feedback and have added two items of interest to keep those users happy—the early release of Red Hat Linux 9 ISOs and improved technical support," the e-mail said.

Red Hat 8 was released late last September as the company continued its expansion into new markets, including call centers and users who run single-purpose trading or other applications. A Red Hat spokesman was not immediately available to give more details on the latest upgrade.

For its part, SuSE Linux A.G. this week will announce the availability of its Enterprise Server 8 for the Intel Itanium processor family, which will also be used to drive parts of the "TeraGrid," a scientific computing system accessible to researchers across the country.

As first reported by eWEEK, the SuSE Linux Enterprise Server 8 for Intel Itanium will be available by the end of the month at a cost of $749 per server, which includes four CDs, documentation and a 12-month subscription to the SuSE Linux Maintenance Program.

A SuSE spokesman declined to give details about when the companys other products will be available for the Itanium processor family. SuSE plans to release SuSE Linux 8.2, the next version of its Linux operating system for personal and business computers, on April 24.

Lisa Graff, a director in Intel Corp.s enterprise platform group, welcomed the move, saying the product availability for Itanium 2-based systems broadened the scope of Linux offerings on the Itanium processor family and is giving customers a greater opportunity to develop and deploy high-end 64-bit Linux solutions.

In addition, SuSE will announce later this week that the new product has also been selected to drive parts of the TeraGrid, an interconnected series of clusters that allows thousands of scientists around the country to share computing resources over the worlds fastest research network in search of breakthroughs in life sciences, climate modeling and other critical disciplines.

The Distributed Terascale Facility (DTF) is a joint undertaking of the National Center for Supercomputing Applications, the San Diego Supercomputing Center, Argonne National Laboratory and the California Institute of Technology, and is funded by the National Science Foundation.

While SuSE officials declined to specify the exact value of the deal, they did say it was worth "several hundred thousand dollars." The company is partnering with IBM Global Services, which is deploying clusters of SuSE Linux systems at the four DTF sites.

The servers will be based on current and future Intel Itanium 2 processors, while IBM supercomputing software—Cluster Systems Management and General Parallel File System—will handle cluster and file management tasks. Myricoms Myrinet interconnect will enable interprocessor communication.

The system will have a storage capacity of more than 600 terabytes of data, and a large part of the grids storage infrastructure will be enabled by IBM TotalStorage products and technologies.

"The selection of SuSE for the massive TeraGrid system demonstrates the stability, scalability and performance of SuSE Linux Enterprise Server and Itanium 2-based systems for complex implementations," Intels Graff said.