IBM to invest almost $1 billion in Linux development

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IBM CHAIRMAN AND chief executive office Lou Gerstner on Tuesday is expected to tell eBusiness Conference and Expo participants in New York that Big Blue will continue to embrace the Linux operating system by investing nearly $1 billion in software, hardware, services, the open source community and partnerships during 2001.

"We started with the investment in Europe and Asia with our Linux competency centers," said IBM spokeswoman Lisa Lanspery, prior to the completion of Gerstner's speech. "It continues with the Open Source Development Center in Portland, Oregon."

IBM now will continue to build software and hardware developed on the Linux operating system, she said. The company currently has approximately 1,500 employees focused on Linux development and that number will grow, Lanspery said.

"The key is that this a worldwide investment," she said.

In addition to the nearly $1 billion investment, Gerstner and IBM also announced a deal in which it will build what it claims is the world's largest Linux supercomputer. The supercomputer will comprise of 1,024 X-series servers, packaged in 32 racks and all running Linux.

Petroleum manufacturer Royal Dutch/Shell Group will use the computer, running Red Hat's Linux operating system, to study seismic data and identify world oil reserves. The supercomputer will assist with massive analytical and calculation capabilities in mining the data. IBM's Global Services will install the Linux cluster during January 2001 in Rijswijk, the Netherlands, according to an IBM statement.

James Evans is a Boston correspondent for the IDG News Service, an InfoWorld affiliate.

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