Linux joins mainline server OSes

Linux joins mainline server OSes<@VM>Stable, cost-effective Linux servers give you another option


A few years ago, Linux was considered a novelty that belonged in the province of hackers and enthusiasts. Sure, you would find it in university research labs as a way to keep budgets down, but you rarely saw a private enterprise or government agency using it for mission-critical systems.

Sun Microsystems' Cobalt RaQ XTR holds up to four 30G hard drives, with either a 733-MHz or 933-MHz Pentium III processor and expandable RAM. Its price ranges from $4,799 to $5,999.
That is no longer the case. As Linux demonstrated its stability in running Internet applications, the largest computer manufacturers started coming into the fold, preloading it onto their Web servers.

Linux is now being used increasingly for print, e-mail, file and application hosting as well. Companies such as Advanced Micro Devices Inc. of Sunnyvale, Calif., Compaq Computer Corp., Dell Computer Corp., Hewlett-Packard Co., IBM Corp. and Intel Corp. are making a push for their Linuxware.

Compaq's ProLiant DL380 holds up to six 9.1 G hard drives and has 128M of RAM. The server, which comes in a 3U rack, uses a 1-GHz Pentium III processor and is priced at $4,443.
The accompanying chart (next page) lists a variety of midrange servers, many of them scalable, that support the Linux OS.

Linux has long had the reputation of being the antithesis of Microsoft Corp., for whom the consumer OS came first. Microsoft's 90 percent-plus penetration of the desktop PC market gave it a foothold into the server sector, because agencies wanted to have both client and server running on the same system. Microsoft Windows is now the most popular server software in the world.

Linux is taking the opposite route. Starting with developer workstations and small servers, it is now the second most popular server OS and is making its way into a small but growing number of desktop PCs.

The Lowdown

' What is it? A server running Linux is a low-cost, high-reliability alternative to servers running proprietary operating systems.

' What does it do? The most common uses are for Web and e-mail hosting, caching, and file serving. High-level applications are being developed.

' What are its limitations? You would not use Linux if your apps are not available in Linux format. This would include most enterprise resource planning and data mining programs, as well as any in-house programs. You also would not use it for internal applications if your network uses another, incompatible OS.

' Price considerations? The cost of a server can vary greatly depending on the options ordered. Prices in the accompanying chart are for the servers as configured. Any customization would substantially affect the price.

' Must-know info? Linux is a very reliable OS. Billions of dollars are being spent developing apps for it, and hardware manufacturers and software publishers support it. The level of support will increase over the next several years.

Coming on strong

Though Apple Computer Inc. maintains its niche of serving artists, Linux is a plausible option to Microsoft in the larger government, business, finance and manufacturing markets. That's why Microsoft president Steve Ballmer said Linux is Windows' greatest threat. Nevertheless, even Microsoft is putting some of its money into Linux. Last October, the company invested $135 million in competitor Corel Corp. with the agreement that Corel would assign at least 20 full-time developers and 10 full-time testers to porting Microsoft's .NET to Linux.

According to the Framingham, Mass., information technology research firm IDC, Linux in 1999 surpassed Novell NetWare as the No. 2 server OS. That year, 1.3 million Linux units were shipped; the number grew by 24 percent last year. IDC predicts new Linux server shipments will reach 4.7 million units in 2004. Linux servers have a 33 percent share of the Web server market.

With projects for porting enterprise resource planning and database programs to Linux, it's likely that some managers will adopt Linux as a means of enhancing service while cutting costs. The Justice Department's Antitrust Division will likely be among the first to switch from Windows.

Although there are Linux-only manufacturers, such as VA Linux Systems Inc. and Penguin Computing, the major manufacturers producing Linux servers are the same ones dominating the rest of the server market.

Dell was the first major player to announce in 1999 that it would install Linux as an option on all its servers. And SGI has 300 people developing and supporting Linux products from workstations to supercomputing clusters.

IBM announced in April last year that it would make three commercial versions of Linux software'Red Hat, Caldera and TurboLinux'available on its servers. The company also is investing heavily in developing Linux applications.

Drew Robb of Tujunga, Calif., writes about information technology.

Company Model CPU CPUs available RAM Hard Drive; number available Chassis* Price
Compaq Computer Corp.


ProLiant DL380 1-GHz PENTIUM III Two 128M 9.1G; six 3U rack $4,443
ProLiant ML330 866-MHz PENTIUM III One 64M SDRAM 9.1G Wide Ultra 2 SCSI; five Tower $1,356
ProLiant DL580 700-MHz PENTIUM III Xeon Four 512M ECC SDRAM 9.1G Ultra 2 SCSI; four 4U rack $7,703
ProLiant ML570 700-MHz PENTIUM III Xeon Four 512M ECC SDRAM 9.1G Ultra 2 SCSI; 12 Tower or 7U rack $13,840
ProLiant DL760 Dual 700-MHz PENTIUM III Xeon Eight 1G 9.1G Ultra 2 SCSI; four 7U rack $22,022
Dell Computer Corp.

Austin, Texas

PowerEdge 1550 1-GHz PENTIUM III Two 1G SDRAM 9G Ultra 3; three 1U rack $3,683
PowerEdge 2450 866-MHz PENTIUM III Two 128M SDRAM 9G U160M; four 2U rack $4,941
PowerEdge 6450 700-MHz PENTIUM III Xeon Four 256M SDRAM 9G Ultra 3 SCSI; four 4U rack $7,745
PowerEdge 8450 700-MHz PENTIUM III Xeon Eight 256M 9G Ultra 3 SCSI; two 7U rack $15,899
PowerEdge 300 800-MHz PENTIUM III Two 64M SDRAM 10G IDE; three Tower $2,099
PowerEdge 1400 866-MHz PENTIUM III Two 128M SDRAM 9G U160M; four Tower $1,672
PowerEdge 2400 866-MHz PENTIUM III Two 128M SDRAM 9.1G SCSI; six Tower $3,448
PowerEdge 4400 866-MHz PENTIUM III Xeon Two 128M SDRAM 9G Ultra 3 SCSI; eight Tower $5,702
PowerEdge 6400 700-MHz PENTIUM III Xeon Four 256M RGT DIMMs 9G SCSI; eight Tower $6,892
PowerApp.web 120 866-MHz PENTIUM III Two 128M SDRAM 9G Ultra 3 SCSI; three 1U rack $1,815
Hewlett-Packard Co.

Palo Alto, Calif.

NetServer E 800 866-MHz PENTIUM III One 128M ECC SDRAM 9.1G SCSI; four Tower $1,599
NetServer LH 3000r Dual 866-MHz PENTIUM III Two 128M ECC SDRAM Not included; up to 12 hot-swap bays 7U rack $4,095
IBM Corp.

Armonk, N.Y.

xSeries 300 800-MHz Celeron One 128M ECC SDRAM 20.4G; one 1U rack $1,549
xSeries 340 1-GHz PENTIUM III One 128M ECC SDRAM 20.4G; six 3U rack $2,588
Netfinity 5100 866-MHz PENTIUM III Two 128M ECC SDRAM 18.2G Ultra 160 SCSI; six Tower $2,622
xSeries 370 700-MHz PENTIUM III Four 512M ECC SDRAM 18.2G Ultra 160 SCSI; two 8U rack $16,533
Penguin Computing

San Francisco

Relion 120 866-MHz PENTIUM III Coppermine Two 256M 9.2G; one 1U rack $2,632
Relion 100 S 733-MHz Celeron One 128M 18G; two 1U rack $1,878
Relion 220 866-MHz PENTIUM III Two 256M PC133 9.2G; six 2U rack $2,665
Relion 200 X 850-MHz PENTIUM III Two 256M PC100 18G; four 2U rack $2,495
Relion 400 S 850-MHz PENTIUM III Two 256M PC100 18G; five 4U rack $3,265
Magnus 4500 700-MHz PENTIUM III Xeon Four 512M PC100 9G; five 4U rack $8,711
Magnus 4800 700-MHz PENTIUM III Xeon Four 512M EDO ECC Dual 9G; eight 9U rack $13,295
Altus HA 850-MHz PENTIUM III Two 128M ECC PC100 9G; five Tower $2,380

Mountain View, Calif.

SGI 1200-Linux 550-MHz PENTIUM III Two 128M SDRAM 18.2G Ultra 2 SCSI; four 2U rack $3,299
SGI 1450-Linux 700-MHz PENTIUM III Xeon Four 256M SDRAM 9.1G Ultra 2 SCSI; five 4U rack $8,999
Sun Microsystems Inc.

Palo Alto, Calif.

Sun Cobalt RaQ XTR 733-MHz PENTIUM III One 256M-2G SDRAM 30G Ultra ATA; four 1U rack $4,799
Sun Cobalt RaQ XTR 933-MHz PENTIUM III One 512M-2G SDRAM 30G Ultra ATA; four 1U rack $5,999
Sun Cobalt Qube 3 300-MHz AMD K6II One 32M-512M 10.2G Ultra ATA; one 7.5 x 7.63 x 7.75 in. $1,149
Sun Cobalt Qube 3 Business Edition 300-MHz AMD K6II One 64M-512M 20.4G Ultra ATA; one 7.5 x 7.63 x 7.75 in. $1,499
Sun Cobalt Qube 3 Professional Edition 450-MHz AMD K6II One 128M-512M 20.4G Ultra ATA; two 7.5 x 7.63 x 7.75 in. $2,099
VA Linux Systems Inc.

Fremont, Calif.

1220 800-MHz PENTIUM III Two 256M ECC SDRAM 18.1G Ultra 3 SCSI; two 1U rack $1,981
1120 700-MHz Celeron One 256M SDRAM 20.5G; two 1U rack $1,812
2230 Dual 800-MHz PIII Two 256M ECC SDRAM 9G; four 2U rack $2,373
4450 Quad 700-MHz PIII Xeon Four 4G 9.1G Ultra 3 SCSI; five 4U rack $17,960
* 1U rack = 1.75 inches


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