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IBM, Linux to Power Library of Congress Archive

With Linux finding its way into larger slices of mainstream America, it makes sense that the open source operating system has also found favor among a swath of scholarly pursuits.

IBM Wednesday aired its latest Linux-oriented win when it announced that the University of Washington, Rutgers Universities Libraries, and the Georgia Institute of Technology Interactive Media Technology Center have opted to run Linux on Power4 chip architecture to build an online catalog of film, television and digital video for the Library of Congress.

The $900,000 catalog, called the Moving Images Collections Portal Project (MIC), will house roughly 80,000 images from libraries, national archives, museums and broadcasting companies all over the world. The MIC will work like an Internet search engine, albeit modified to find only moving images, where users can find what they need with just a browser.

Standout footage includes archives in the national Smithsonian and video from the Hubble telescope, as well as footages from filmed natural disasters and the terrorist attacks from 9/11 nearly two years ago.

The universities feel MIC will be a big help to those searching for visual footage -- from scientists to researchers, authors, educators, students and the general public -- because of the sheer size of the online catalog.

The University of Washington and Rutgers University will use IBM eServer pSeries systems running Linux to develop the directory and catalog databases of digital images. Georgia Institute of Technology will use the pSeries machines to create the Web portal where users will access the Internet from their browsers.

The MIC databases and Web portal will be powered by two IBM eServer p630 servers, which start at $13,720 and two p610 machines, which cost $6,829, running SuSE Linux Enterprise SLES 8 and IBM's directory server. When users pin down the video they need, they can contact the content providers to obtain permission to view or reference the images.

The news demonstrates two distinct points: that there is money to be made from Linux and that digital, Internet-based footage is becoming increasingly common the world over. A $900,000 grant was given to the universities from the National Science Foundation to pay for the lengthy project.

The Library of Congress will host the MIC, after it is completed in 2004 and the Association of Moving Image Archivists (AMIA) will influence its growth and design.

For IBM, the contract is still an indication of the blooming popularity of Linux as an alternative to proprietary systems such as Unix or Microsoft Windows. It also cements the company's status as a leading provider of Linux products.

The University of Washington said it chose Linux on IBM servers because it could be custom coded and could adjust to the requirements of the MIC project.

Other systems vendors doubling as Linux enthusiasts such as HP and Dell have been angling for such big contracts, but IBM, with its multi-billion-dollar Linux push, is leading the pack.