IBM’s SpeedStart Linux evaluation gives away tools

IBM Corp.’s SpeedStart Linux Software Evaluation Kit (SEK) is not only the company’s, but also perhaps the industry’s, most generous SEK offering ever. Designed to bring Linux adoption into enterprise systems, IBM decided to target developers with such a rich variety of tools and applications in order to encourage continued use of Linux. In this manner, the company hopes to see its products being used in concert with Linux.

For years IBM has been introducing applications to developers by providing evaluation CD’s that include a host of tools and various other goodies. With IBM’s Linux SpeedStart shipment, the company has outdone itself. In fact, with all that IBM has included here, such as a fully functional, relational DBMS with indefinite licensing terms, the term Software Evaluation Kit might have to be retired for good. SpeedStart for one thing is not sent as a CD. Rather, IBM is shipping DVDs as this format enables the mammoth 4GB offering to ship on a manageable number of disks. What makes this SEK a rather remarkable offering is the inclusion of not simply “evaluation only” version of products, but the fully featured product itself, some shipped with no expiration date in perpetuity. IBM is lavishing developers with a wealth of products in an attempt to bring them into the enterprise development fold of Linux.

To this end three main products are provided that are needed in large-scale business development, an enterprise DBMS, a high-end application server, and a dynamic, fully supportable development platform. On top of all this, SpeedStart Linux is garnished with security tools and utilities for Linux.

The database IBM decided to ship is none other than DBMS, the application that put IBM on the map among database vendors. It is a product whose migration from mainframes to handheld devices represents the industry’s most scalable database. As such, it is a logical choice to include for developers, who will have the utmost freedom in configuring DBMS in various environments. It is Web-enabled, multimedia-capable (audio, video, image), and supports storage of most kinds of data. It has the full API set (using SQL 92 and most of SQL 99), JDBC, and a call-level interface (CLI) for C/C++ code jockeys.

IBM’s licensing terms are, to say the least, flexible and open. The database can be used indefinitely for purposes of development and testing. The only difference between what is being sent with SpeedStart Linux and what is found in enterprises is a limit on the number of client connections that can be made. This version of DB2 runs on Red Hat 7.2 and later, Red Hat Enterprise Linux 3.0 and later, and SuSE 7.0 and later. The package also requires Java 1.3.1 or later to run the utilities for administering the database.

A database would be incomplete without a server, and IBM has been equally generous in this department as well, shipping WebSphere Application Server 5.1 with SpeedStart. This server is not only the best-selling J2EE server around, but its capabilities are in keeping with the kinds of enterprise-grade environments IBM want to see Linux deployed in. In fact, IBM goes beyond what ordinarily ships with J2EE. Big Blue has included an integrated Web Server, along with a core set of pre-built, production-ready Web services applications that extend support to all major applicable standards. A developer’s license with an excellent allotment of time to use and test the WebSphere Application is included.

Lastly, IBM tops off its SEK with the inclusion of its Eclipse-enabled WebSphere Studio Application Developer (WSAD) that enables testing of both its DBMS and WebSphere Application Server. In an attempt to make testing and debugging as painless as possible, IBM has include a plug-in that lets programmers test code with the click of a button. WSAD also includes wizards and code generators for developing HTML, JSPs, XML deployment descriptors, EJBs and, naturally, Java classes and servlets The only shortcoming sited by some with WSAD rests in the limited number of Linux versions that it runs on. Currently, it supports Red Hat 7.2 and 8.0 and SuSE 7.2 and 8.1. Installing WSAD from the SpeedStart DVD entitles you to 60 days of technical support via e-mail on the product. However, considering what IBM is offering in return for nothing of immediate value, this seems a superb deal just the same.

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