IBM tries to rev up Linux

Trying to grow the library of applications for Linux, IBM Corp. on Tuesday announced a program for developers that makes a server available to them over the Internet so they can develop, test and port their applications to IBM’s iSeries server.

The Linux Test Drive is a virtual server that leverages the iSeries operating system to partition a single server, thereby giving as many as 31 developers their own virtual server they can access remotely.

The major benefit to often cash-strapped small companies of giving them their own virtual development site on a iSeries, is the administrative and development cost savings of consolidating workloads from many servers onto one.

“We think the key to Linux adoption among small- and medium-size businesses is offering ISV’s a convenient way develop for this market segment,” said Kim Stevenson, an IBM vice-president affiliated with the company’s iSeries.

One developer who used the program to help certify a Unix-based security application to run under SuSE’s version of Linux said the process went smoothly and that he was able to save time and money on technical resources and travel to an IBM’s development site.

“We were attached to a machine in San Mateo and were able to do some coding, compiling of code and testing to the point where we were able to go to market with a product using a machine we didn’t even have in house,” said Steve Martinson, product marketing manager for the iSeries product line with PentaSafe Security Technologies Inc., in Houston, Tex. “This was a much better use of technical resources,” he said.

In a recent report IDC (International Data Corp.) said small businesses represent some 48 per cent of all Linux-based server installations. They and other analysts generally agree that small-to-medium-size businesses will account for more than 50 per cent of the total server market by the end of 2004.

The Test Drive program is intended to compliment IBM’s other software and hardware offerings also aimed at small and medium size businesses, including the company’s Small Business Suite for Linux, which contains the DB2 Universal Data Base, Websphere Application Server, and Lotus Domino server.

Developers can choose between SuSE and TurboLinux versions of Linux, and between 14-day free access and 30-day access. Red Hat’s version of the open source operating system will be supported under the program sometime in January, a company spokesman said.

Developers can get more information about the program by going to