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New Linux lab opens, starts projects

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Efforts to move Linux more into business and commercial markets and bolster the numbers of computers that can be connected to a network are some of the first projects that programmers will focus on at the new Open Source Development Lab, which opens Wednesday in a suburb of Portland, Ore.

Billed as the first nonprofit Linux lab, the center opened with the support of 19 sponsor companies and more than $24 million in funding, organizers said. Located in the Oregon suburb of Beaverton, the center is an 11,000-square-foot space located in a high-tech plaza, said Daniel Frye, director of IBM's Linux Technology Center.

There are two main reasons for opening the lab, said Bruce Perens, Hewlett-Packard's Linux and open source strategist.

"We are providing resources that the individual Linux developer cannot afford," he said. "We are providing a simulation [environment] of a large number of clients."

First announced in August, the lab will provide Linux and open source developers with access to high-end business hardware and a forum where they can test software for powerful servers and business computing environments. HP, Intel, IBM and NEC were the original lab sponsors. A staff of about six will provide support services and the lab will be led by Tim Witham, who most recently was Intel's Linux program manager.

The first project for the lab will be a scalability project designed to enhance the Linux operating system to support 16, 64-bit processors with near-linear performance improvement. Linux is known to scale well in 4-way configurations, and even some 8-way configurations, but work needs to be done in the 16-way configuration, Witham said. This project should also assist with moving Linux deeper into the business and commercial space.

"Most developers that would work on that project don't have access to a 16-way," Witham said.

Jabber.com, an open source company that develops instant messaging products, assisted with identifying the second project for the lab. It will focus on increasing Linux TCP/IP concurrent connection support from 20,000 to more than 64,000.

Under the lab's charter, it does not create projects, but supports and seeks to accelerate existing or new projects created by the open source community.

Developers who work at the lab will have access to six 4-way systems, one 8-way system, as well as 150 spindles (5.1T bytes) connected through gigabit Ethernet. Lab organizers would not disclose the manufacturer of the hardware. In terms of load generation, it will be supported by 50 2-way servers. The hardware profile is expected to increase significantly during the next six months.

Board members for the OSDL include: Ross Mauri, president of OSDL and vice president of IBM's eServer development; Martin Fink, vice president of OSDL and HP's general manager of Linux systems operations; Murray Berkowitz, OSDL treasurer and executive director of Interprise Ventures; Jerry Greenberg senior vice president of TurboLinux worldwide marketing; Koichi Ikumi, executive general manager of NEC's software operations unit and Richard Wirt, Intel fellow and director of microcomputer software labs. Two board seats remain open.

For more information about the lab, go to www.osdlab.org/.

The IDG News Service is a Network World affiliate.

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