IBM last week continued to expand its Linux family with a server aimed at financial and retail customers that want to migrate business-critical applications from Unix- or Windows-based platforms to the less-expensive Linux.IBM\u00a0last week continued to expand its\u00a0Linux\u00a0family with a server aimed at financial and retail customers that want to migrate business-critical applications from Unix- or Windows-based platforms to the less-expensive Linux.The IBM\u00a0eServer OpenPower 720\u00a0server uses the 64-bit Power5 processor and will run Red Hat Enterprise Linux Version 3, which is based on the 2.4 Linux kernel, or Novell's SuSE Enterprise Server 9, which uses the 2.6 Linux kernel.Kent Thompson, senior systems administrator for the University of Portland in Oregon, uses two OpenPower 720 servers."We use Linux only in our development environment," he says. "The price is attractive, but we were interested anyway because we just retired some of our big iron and moved to a distributed architecture using smaller servers such as Intel Xeons. The OpenPower 720 is a little bigger than x86 servers and lets us do some simulations and other big work."The OpenPower 720 is not the only IBM server that runs Linux. It joins IBM's iSeries and pSeries servers, which support Linux and AIX. The iSeries also supports i5\/OS. IBM also offers a blade server, the BladeCenter JS20, which runs SuSe Enterprise Linux and Turbolinux."This is IBM's first true salvo at making Linux on Power mainstream rather than a specialty product," says Gordon Haff, senior analyst with Illuminata. "This is IBM saying we have as much opportunity to make Linux on Power as mainstream as x86 does. While IBM offers Linux on its iSeries, pSeries, zSeries and xSeries servers, they still are relatively specialist products."The 4U IBM eServer OpenPower 720 can be configured with one to four processors running at 1.5 GHz or 1.65 GHz. It is available in a rack or tower configuration and supports up to 64G bytes of memory.The server can run IBM's Virtualization Engine, which lets each processor be divided into as many as 10 partitions, for consolidation purposes.The server is less expensive than either Sun's SPARC-based v440 server, which starts at $12,000, or its Opteron-based Sun Fire v40z, which starts at $8,500. It is expected to compete with low-end RISC-based, Intel Xeon and Advanced Micro Devices Opteron-based servers. A single-processor Dell PowerEdge 6650, which uses the Intel Xeon processor, starts at $9,200.A single-processor OpenPower 720 version will be available this week starting at $5,000. Next year, IBM is expected to introduce a one- to two-processor OpenPower system available in a 2U-high server. The Virtualization Engine costs $2,000 for a four-processor configuration.