HP Supports Linux from Several Angles

HP made something of a splash prior to LinuxWorld by announcing that it was designating Linux one of its three strategic operating systems (the other two being UNIX and Windows NT). At the actual event, which began on August 14 in San Jose, CA, HP built on its prior announcement by demonstrating support for Linux on several fronts. The company unveiled products and services for Linux, revealed an alliance with Linuxcare that assures Linux compatibility with HP systems, and announced that it has joined the GNOME project and the Open Source Development Network (OSDN).

In the product arena, HP announced that it will make MC/ServiceGuard, its high availability, failover solution, available on Linux in early 2001. HP also said it is porting TopTools device manager for desktops and HP NetServer systems to Linux.

HP had already announced it is developing a Linux runtime environment so that Linux software binaries can run on HP-UX for IA-64 systems. At LinuxWorld, it said it was expanding its Linux ISV program, which offers developers access to IA-64 systems, and unveiled a kit for IA-64 software development on IA-32 systems (available at http://www.software.hp.com/ia64linux).

New Linux services from HP include high availability packaged services—global installation, integration, and multivendor network services—that support the Linux high availability functionality release scheduled for this fall. HP also expanded Linux support and certification for desktops and servers by adding Linux certification for Caldera, SuSE, TurboLinux, and Debian to NetServer systems. Linuxcare was tapped to perform the testing and certification. Linuxcare also certifies HP's desktop PC platforms—Vectras, Brios, Kayak Workstations, and ePCs.

Linuxcare performed another partnership function for HP by developing a configuration wizard for HP's messaging system, OpenMail, running on Linux. The GUI-based configuration wizard is designed for nontechnical administrators, who can use it to automatically configure OpenMail, according to Dave Sifry, chief technology officer at Linuxcare. The OpenMail for Linux configuration wizard will initially run on Red Hat 6.2. Later this year, the wizard will support OpenMail for AIX, HP-UX, and Solaris. Moreover, Linuxcare is internationalizing the wizard for all of OpenMail's 12 supported languages.

HP also revealed it has become one of the founding members of the GNOME Foundation, a group of vendors joining together to drive adoption of the GNOME user interface for Linux. Martin Fink, an R&D manager working out of HP's labs in Colorado, said that HP is migrating the HP-UX desktop to GNOME to provide a common desktop environment for HP-UX and Linux. This move, said Fink, is a "focus area for HP" because the company's multi-OS strategy requires it to provide interoperability among operating systems.

HP also revealed that it has became a founding member of another important Linux group—OSDN, a newly formed division of VA Linux Systems and a group that serves as a gateway for open source software development. The company's membership in OSDN is also part of HP's multi-OS strategy, according to Jim Bell, general manager of HP's Open Source and Linux Operation.

With all this news, HP is wading far deeper into the Linux waters than it has before. And that puts it very much in line with other industry heavyweights, like IBM and Sun, who are also pursuing this growing market. Last March, IDC (International Data Corp.) predicted that until 2003, total Linux commercial shipments will grow faster than the total shipments of all other IDC-covered client or server OS environments.

HP's strategy of targeting Linux for Internet infrastructure servers is a no-brainer, according to Mike Balma, marketing manager in HP's Open Source & Linux Operation. "Linux provides a scalable low-cost way of deploying lots of boxes," Balma said. "It's a reliable, flexible OS and provides a great development environment. It's great for Web servers, DNS servers, and co-location boxes."