IBM Corp. is making integration with Linux a top priority in its evolving strategy to push AIX Unix into the Intel Corp. market, the company said.

IBM this fall will release AIX 5L, a freshly minted and renamed version of the AIX operating system, combining extensive Linux support with performance-boosting features designed to appeal to IBM’s high-end customer base.

The operating system will be the first AIX version capable of running on both IBM Power-based systems and on Intel’s upcoming IA-64 architecture, according to IBM.

This will give existing Power-based AIX users another hardware platform on which to run their applications. It will also give Linux users a way to combine their applications with the high-end scalability and availability of AIX, said Dave Turek, a vice president at IBM.

Linux support on AIX 5L will include source-code compatibility and a Linux “build-time” environment, with tools and utilities that provide a Linux “look and feel” development environment on AIX, IBM said.

Linux application programming interfaces will be rehosted and optimized for AIX, while standard AIX libraries will be enhanced to support Linux. Linux applications on IA-64-based systems will be able to run on IA-64-based AIX 5L systems with a simple recompilation of the source code, according to IBM.