Pick a Free OS

Robert LeBlanc, VP, IBM, Software Strategy, Software Solutions Division

How and why did IBM decide to support Linux when they already have their own OS?

The shift started about two years ago. An internal effort was started and

I was also part of this team of 6-7 people. We wanted to know what this thing

was and whether we needed yet another OS. We also looked at open source.

Open source had far more benefits in terms of process. There was a lot of

vigor in the process, lot of value in the process. It was a self-policing

environment. If you did good work, you got noticed and got to do more good

work. If you didn't pull your weight then you were shunned by the

community. We also liked Linux. It was built right from the ground up. A

small kernel which was very important as was the ability to add modules.

Linux could scale upwards and downwards. The open source model was very

good. We saw that Linux as an OS had very strong technical underpinnings.

Another point to note was that customers were wanting a more open

environment. We had just been through the Internet evolution and we saw

the power of the Internet a lot before our competitors did. We were also

members of the Apache project. The world did not need another web server,

but the world needed a very good web server that could grow and expand. The

world did not need another OS, but what the world did need was a common OS

that was open source and scalable. We made the decision 18 months ago.

We're way ahead of HP and Sun. So it's customer demand and we're giving

them what they want.

Will IBM not support the other Unixes like the BSD?s?

Right now we have no plans for that. One is just a variation of the

other. The decision had a lot to do with market momentum which was behind

Linux at that point. FreeBSD is a good OS but so is Linux. The world does

not need two open source operating systems. We've been through the Unix

evolution and we have seen what fragmentation does. Customers really don't

care which OS they use. They ask IBM for help here. So we made a conscious

decision to go with only one OS.

IBM has also made contributions to Project Monterey, which is kind of

competition to Linux.

Project Monterey was actually started before Linux did. When we

started the push to Monterey, the notion was to have one common OS for

several architectures. The notion actually came through with Linux which

was open source and supported all hardware. We continued with Monterey as