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IBM Takes Linux to the Chiphopper

IBM will release a series of tools and support services to port Linux applications to its mainframe and server architectures today, the company said.

The IBM eServer Application Server Advantage for Linux, or Chiphopper, is recognition by the Armonk, N.Y., software giant that there's demand for Linux applications created by independent software vendors (ISVs) outside the Intel- or AMD-based x86 architecture.

"In 2004, 40 percent of IBM's Linux server revenue was non-x86, so the idea here is for [ISVs] to take their Linux x86 applications and take advantage of . . . the fact that IBM is selling multi-platform Linux to our customers," said Scott Handy, IBM vice president of Linux.

The formal announcement will be made at a news conference at the LinuxWorld trade show in Boston.

The new program expands Big Blue's support for Linux applications on its hardware platforms. At last year's LinuxWorld event in San Francisco, the company announced a Linux on Power program, which gave ISVs access to testing centers and support.

In recent times, IBM has also eased ISV membership requirements for its PartnerWorld Industry Network program, which lets developers gain access to IBM support, services and software tools.

According to Stacey Quandt, a senior business analyst and open source practice leader at the Robert Frances Group research firm, Chiphopper is an expansion of IBM's "Speed-start your Linux app" program and an effort to narrow the gap in ISV support for Sun's Solaris on SPARC .

She said IBM has 900 applications certified for Linux on its pSeries while there are more than 10,000 certified for Solaris on SPARC. Porting the application, however, is only part of the solution, she noted.

"Optimizing the performance of applications and identifying bottlenecks on pSeries in particular will requires additional tools," she said. "IBM could also spur ISV interest if it ported its AIX performance toolbox to the Linux platform."

Chiphopper's main software tool is the Source Code Testing and Checking Tool, an application that analyzes a Linux application to see whether it can be immediately ported to IBM's supported platforms. If there are portability issues, the software will recommend potential fixes and ISVs can alternatively get support from IBM technicians to help with the migration. Platform support includes the eServer iSeries, pSeries, zSeries, xSeries, BladeCenter and OpenPower.

The program also includes a tool that checks C and C++ code for Linux Standard Base (LSB) conformity.

ISVs in IBM's PartnerWorld network will also get access to no-charge support in the event that a ported application creates a problem with its customers within the first two years. IBM's business partners can test their applications against the actual hardware at one of IBM's Innovation Centers, either on-site or remotely.

IBM concurrently launched resource Web sites for ISVs thinking of migrating their applications from the Solaris or Windows platform, as well as a resource site for the Chiphopper program.

Developers can visit IBM's Linux site for more information.