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The Almighty Buck IBM Power Linux

IBM Promises $1B Investment In Linux Development 109

Posted by timothy
from the donate-I-mean-invest dept.
itwbennett writes with a link to a story you'll need to mentally upgrade from "expected to" to "just happened" about IBM's $1 billion dollar investment in Linux officially announced Tuesday morning at LinuxCon (the WSJ broke the story yesterday), by IBM VP Brad McCredie. IBM, says the linked article, will use all that money "to promote Linux development as it tries to adapt Power mainframes and servers to handle cloud and big data applications in distributed computing environments. The investment will fund Linux application development programs for IBM's Power servers and also be used to expand a cloud service where developers can write and test applications for Power servers before deployment. It will also facilitate software development around IBM's new Power8 chips, which will go into servers next year." It's not the only time that IBM has recently tossed around the B-word, and as Nick Kolakowski notes at Slash BI, it's also not the first time IBM has put that much money into Linux.
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IBM Promises $1B Investment In Linux Development

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  • I just moved to FreeBSD.

  • one BILLION... (Score:4, Informative)

    by epiphani (254981) <epiphani@da[ ]et ['l.n' in gap]> on Tuesday September 17, 2013 @10:40AM (#44873539)

    To sell more power chips. Nothing to see here, please move along.

    • Re:one BILLION... (Score:4, Interesting)

      by unixisc (2429386) on Tuesday September 17, 2013 @11:15AM (#44873933)
      But are they then replacing AIX w/ Linux? It would be indeed interesting if that were the case
      • I've had the feeling that's been in the cards for a decade now. Migration would take a long time, but IBM is a long-view kind of company.

        • by unixisc (2429386)
          It would seem to me that in newer POWER iron, they could just install Linux, and for backwards compatibility, run AIX on KVM/Qemu. That would support any legacy software that they need to support, while they can work on getting as much Lintel software ported to Power Linux.
          • by bws111 (1216812)

            No need to do that, they can just run Linux and AIX in separate LPARs if so desired.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      As ESR said in his opus The Cathedral and the Bizarre, Linux is only free if your time has no value. Clearly IBM's time, and chip business, has lots of value. A billion dollar's worth apparently.

      • As ESR said in his opus The Cathedral and the Bizarre, Linux is only free if your time has no value. Clearly IBM's time, and chip business, has lots of value. A billion dollar's worth apparently.

        That's Bazar, not Bizarre. And the statement is true for just the narrow interpretation of "free", which is to say, "as in beer". ESR is a bit of a self important douche, by the way, but that's just my own take on the guy.

    • by Nerdfest (867930)

      It's not the hardware, despite the ridiculous costs. It's for the 'MIPS' charges on their mainframes.

    • by vilanye (1906708)
      Wow, you mean companies put money into Linux to further their business goals instead of altruism?

      I am shocked!
  • by Anonymous Coward

    I think they should spend their time (and ultimately money) on more intelligent installations, documentation, and that abomination of a support website.

  • by kcbnac (854015) <<kcbnac> <at> <gmail.com>> on Tuesday September 17, 2013 @10:48AM (#44873631)

    The phrase '$1 Billion' gets people to sit up and notice.

    But most of this work won't benefit the Linux community and software at large, at least directly. It will be ancillary improvements; where something gets re-written/improved/fixed due to issues on the POWER architecture that happen to benefit everyone else too. Hopefully these are many and useful.

    Still, any investment shows that Linux is Serious Business.

    • The phrase '$1 Billion' gets people to sit up and notice.

      But most of this work won't benefit the Linux community and software at large, at least directly. It will be ancillary improvements; where something gets re-written/improved/fixed due to issues on the POWER architecture that happen to benefit everyone else too.

      This is work that ensures there are usable alternatives to Intel based equipment. I would have thought that benefits the Linux community at large directly ... unless one is most at home in a x86-64 monoculture :-)

    • by Patch86 (1465427)

      Everyone in open source land contributes (whether the voluntary time or money sort) to the bits that matter to them. There aren't many voluntary devs out there working on software that they don't really use.

      IBM spending $1b on Linux development is great news. The fact that it'll be spent on those aspects of Linux development that matter most to IBM is hardly a shocker.

    • by unixisc (2429386)
      IBM should take a fresh drive in popularizing the Power architecture, like they did in the 90s. Re-introduce Power based workstations, and have an entire lineup of counterparts to Wintel boxes that exist out there - from Power based workstations right up to POWER based servers. All running Linux.
      • I'd like that, even though I'm a zLinux sysadmin and we have guys who exclusively admin our pSeries boxes (all running AIX right now) I'd love a Power-based workstation running Linux for my desk!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 17, 2013 @10:53AM (#44873691)

    I wonder if this is an accounting trick. Lay off all their developers, and then hire them back as contractors at a lower rate to sell Power8 systems.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      As a developer at IBM for 10+ years, doing Linux and PowerPC for a large portion of that time. I am wondering why I am laid off and working for HP now. One hand does not know what the other is doing it seems.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        The main skillset of the CEO's at IBM since Akers has been politics.

        Its no wonder that the press releases always say one thing, while the guys on the ground see something different.

        The way I read the release is that IBM is going to hire people in France to support linux, while laying off people in the US doing AIX and Linux work.

        The $1B is just the amount of money they were going to be spending on support anyway.

        • The way I read the release is that IBM is going to hire people in France to support linux, while laying off people in the US doing AIX and Linux work.

          There is also the gov't policy angle. The US gov't wants to tax foreign profits. So companies like Apple and IBM have a lot of money overseas that they don't know what to do with. Spending what they earn overseas in an overseas development effort avoids these additional taxes.

          The US gov't basically seems to be encouraging IBM to shut down US development and move it overseas. Sure its an unintended consequence but many gov't failings stem from the unintended consequences of good intentioned policy.

      • by unixisc (2429386)

        Wow, that sucks!

        But honestly, if IBM made Linux the native OS of POWER, replacing AIX, it would be a shot in the arm for Linux. Particularly if at some point, they reintroduce Power workstations, running Linux. Just like in the 80s & 90s, where the OS was tweaked and tied to the hardware for Unixstations, it would be the same thing here, even if IBM were to open up the device drivers. In such a case, one would have Linux running right out of the box, unlike on x64s, where it has to be tweaked befor

        • by Rob Y. (110975)

          In case you haven't noticed, the marketplace for 'workstations' has changed drastically since the 90's. The hardware is now a cheap commodity, and for most uses, the software is irrelevant - i.e. all you need is a web browser, and possibly an office suite. All of which can be provided by either Windows or Linux on cheap HP or Asus hardware.

          Sure, there's still a small market for movie effects production and publication-grade desktop graphics. But hardly one worth introducing a whole new hardware line to t

      • by roc97007 (608802) on Tuesday September 17, 2013 @01:39PM (#44875891) Journal

        As a developer at IBM for 10+ years, doing Linux and PowerPC for a large portion of that time. I am wondering why I am laid off and working for HP now. One hand does not know what the other is doing it seems.

        My experience at IBM was that often, not only does one hand not wash the other, but one hand is actively arm-wrestling the other. You can bet that the AIX group is plotting the overthrow of this upstart Linux thing, and the AS/400 group is plotting the demise of this microcomputer flash-in-the-pan thing, and the Z-series group is plotting the comeback of 3179's on the desktop.

  • Wow! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by LifesABeach (234436) on Tuesday September 17, 2013 @11:01AM (#44873759)
    Well, if you're in IBM-India, that's great!
  • IBM invest 1 Billion in linux 10 years ago? news.cnet.com/2100-1001-249750.html
  • itword vs WSJ (Score:5, Informative)

    by bored (40072) on Tuesday September 17, 2013 @11:34AM (#44874187)

    The people at itworld are less IBM literate than the WSJ, because they keep repeating "POWER mainframe".

    Repeat after me, POWER is _NOT_ IBM's mainframe line. The mainframe line is the zSeries and runs on proprietary processors clocked at 5.5Ghz. POWER processors are in the pSeries and iSeries machines.

    Now, that said, in many ways the high end pSeries stuff is better than the mainframe hardware, but in no way is it considered "mainframe" grade to the IBM sales guys.

    All that said, RHEL and SLES both run on pSeries and zSeries machines.

  • Linus (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 17, 2013 @11:50AM (#44874441)

    I hope part of that $1B will be used to buy Mr. Torvalds a license for a good backup program... ;)

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Why would he back up his data when he can just ftp it up to the internet, and let the whole world mirror it?

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by gtall (79522)

      Nah, I'd rather see a realtime interpreter for the boy.

      Linus: You stupid motherfucking, shit-eating bastard, I vomit on your code!!

      Translation Linus: You are misguided and I can help you fix your code to become a better person!!

    • Why would he need a license to use the free software he was already using? The "Linus doesn't back up his data!" bullshit is a myth. His data was backed up. In fact, he uses the most powerful and useful data integrity and replication software on the planet [git-scm.com], which he himself designed. The delay was an intentional decision, and was the result of him wanting to investigate the failure more thoroughly.
  • Expensive migration (Score:4, Interesting)

    by CHK6 (583097) on Tuesday September 17, 2013 @12:01PM (#44874577)

    Where will the $1 billion go? To a large extent, on facilities and personnel to help Power users move to Linux. One new center in Montpellier, France, will be set up for that purpose, McCredie says.

    When they say large extent, what exactly does that mean? Like $800 million for the land and development of a shiny new building, $100 million for Power servers, and $900K for salaried personnel? Leaving $100K to hire 10 India engineers to work feverishly on the Linux code?

    • by HtR (240250)

      If they use the remaining $99 million for advertising, it might actually work.

    • by unixisc (2429386)
      Since when do Indian engineers work on Linux code? Isn't it developed by Linus' team - all IBM would have to do would be to handle the Power/POWER ports, as well as getting standard Linux software ported to the platform. Otherwise, the kernel comes from Linus, the userland from GNU (unless IBM chooses to put AIX userland on top of Linux), the X11/Wayland from X.org, KDE from the KDE guys & so on
  • I used to believe in IBM, but no more. In my mind, they are a trash company.
  • Hahaha. Just had to say it.

  • I just wonder if IBM is also working on low power (as in wattage). This seems to be the focus of server development at HP. Sure both IBM and HP are investing heavily in getting their gear to run the Linux kernel because in doing so they avail themselves of intelligent coders who are not churned out from the Microsoft's C# mills in colleges. They actually get individuals who think in processes at a lower level and have studied computer science not the world of computing according to Microsoft.

    IBM has been r

  • $1B for Linux on Power architecture? Are they just looking for a tax writeoff? Is it cheaper than updating AIX?

    • by unixisc (2429386)
      AIX would have to be maintained, re-written & all that; w/ Linux, they have the standard kernel that they just pull from out there, whose Power port exists. Then they take that, then all the programs that they need running on top of it, be it BusyBox or GNU or whatever, and then things like KDE or GNUSTEP. The good thing is that IBM can stop having to maintain an in-house team of programmers skilled in an OS that has increasingly limited use, and instead leverage the popularity of Linux and get tha
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Will any of that $1B finally get IBM to port their COBOL compiler to Linux? People have asked for it since the 1990s, and IBM has steadfastly ignored them. Their compiler works on AIX and OS/2, so it should be fairly easy to port. Now, a COBOL parsing front-end that integrated into LLVM would be a dream come true. How much would it cost to take their AIX code's front-end and port it to LLVM?

  • Grumble grumble mutter mutter bitch bitch... Back in the days of OS/2 it'd have been refreshing to see IBM put that much into its *own OS*. Today though, as a Linux user, it's a good thing.
  • without the > $15 Billion invested by corporations to keep the project afloat. Be grateful.
  • Didn't they do that some years ago already? And having an ad campaign where they spray-painted sidewalks (and was fined for the "graffiti" [cnet.com]).

  • It's about power consumption. These new Power8 chips may be clever but due to a shortfall of imagination and planning by Silicon Valley investors (and American corporations in general) in the latter part of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st... these things are pretty 'steampunk'.

    Of every 100 chips coming off the assembly line, roughly 37 will be powered by coal, 30 from natural gas. There is no real future in this.

    Only 7 chips will get their power from Hydroelectricity, a percent point we would

  • I am glad IBM is investing more in to and contributing to the Linux kernel. This is what open source is all about, and a sign that Linux is still growing at a rapid pace to replace the old, archaic, and expensive software in the field today.

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