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Wednesday, 13 January 2010

IBM and Linux and Linux and IBM (a rant I guess)

Here we go biting the hand that feeds me. I stumbled across this article from the Register called "IBM software: big, blue and boring in the 2010s" Now usually I take no notice of the Register dribble and this article is no exception but what caught my attention was the Linux bits. It is true that the Böblingen lab played with Linux on zSeries and sparked some attention inside IBM. When you look at the server versions of Linux you are in boring territory indeed. Once the server is installed and apps are running you do not need to touch it again. I am reminded of a server in our IBM Staines Lab installed by Aaron that has a very old version of SUSE and a fairly recent version of Domino. This server is so under powered that it is not funny. I think it is a P4 with 1GB of memory and a disk array of 80GB with a failed disk but Tinkywinky has not missed a beat ever for it's 100 users or so.

What is far more interesting is the desktop and really people should make the distinction. The initial desktop, for many years, in IBM was a Redhat based desktop and was there for folks with beards and slippers. Using it was like being posted to Siberia, not something to enjoy!  It was locked down to the nth degree and unusable. When Ubuntu started making sense, around 6.4, we started working on some new desktops and had two opposing but similar desktops based on Ubuntu. One was called LUD Storm and was started in Brazil if I was not mistaken. Long story short, management noticed, well they noticed duplication of effort really to be honest, and combined efforts under Frank in Germany. The desktop I am using today is a slick desktop that can access anything we IBMers require in IBM albeit with some workarounds like Citrix for Siebel. It has some issues but it's quirkiness is a learning journey that quite enjoyable. In essence it is a "layered" approach that works rather well. You can install any disty that does not mess around with internal version names and then select the IBM layer of choice. For example, you can install the amazing Ultimate Edition 2.5 version from TheMan and the layer would install almost perfectly apart from a few Lotus Notes / Java quirk's. You can install disty's like Mint as well but you have to do a lot of work because the script we use looks for Jaunty or Karmic etc and Mint decided to change the names, duh!

So what am I complaining about? Well, there is just so much more we can achieve on this platform but unfortunately half of IBM staff are lawyers and anything good stands no chance of seeing daylight. This is at the hart of the register article. There is so much potential for IBM to go all out and create jummy goodies for Linux but it seems that it has to be skunk works internally for it to give birth and then it must be "discovered" by a high ranking top gun executive to see the light of day. Not a bad thing but IBM stands for I have Been Moved and Ed has recently published a page on just that. So, what one exec favors today is not going to be what the next sees as his / her big break.

I just hope Alistair Rennie likes Linux as we have a great deal to show if we find a champion.

IBM Lotus -- Alistair Rennie

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