By William Fellows
Hewlett-Packard Co is going to get Linux up on its Precision Architecture RISC machines courtesy of an open source porting project being managed by Ottawa, Canada-based Puffin Group. HP has already contracted to use Red Hat Linux on its Intel-based NetServers and has also committed to get Linux up on IA-64 too. HP says it expects Linux to become an industry force, especially in the ISP and e-commerce markets where it currently lags far behind leaders such as Sun Microsystems Inc and IBM Corp. Sun has 10 of the top 12 ISVs in its pocket. MindSpring Enterprises Inc is one of the few holdouts. It has some Sun equipment but runs its service predominantly on Compaq AlphaServers. How important Linux on PA-RISC will be isn’t clear even to HP, but by year-end it says it will be selling its low-end A and R class servers fitted with Linux for these kinds of applications. At Linux World early next month, HP will also announce plans to closer align its HP-UX Unix with Linux such that developers can write programs on one environment and deploy them on another. OpenMail, HP’s Unix messaging systems, will also go up on Linux. The Firehunter service-level management application is already available on Linux. HP denies it’s playing Linux catch-up with anyone (although Sun and IBM has already revealed extensive Linux plans) and claims it’s been a leader in Linux activity. At HP’s end, the Linux-on-PA efforts falls under a new Open Source Solutions Operation which reports to Nigel Ball, general manager for HP’s Internet and Applications System Division. Puffin Group, founded in September last year by Christopher Beard and Andrew Hutton, says the primary motivation of the project is to breath new life into these [PA] systems, and to get Linux running on yet another architecture. The project is just taking shape with documentation going out, hardware being installed and mailing lists fired up. HP is currently moving HP-UX on to a big-endian implementation of IA-64, promising application compatibility. Puffin group says some work has been done on getting a cross- compiler for PA-RISC running under iAPX-86 and that several people have been looking into various approaches to boot- strapping.