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IBM and Red Hat Announce New Development Innovations in Linux Kernel


IBM (NYSE: IBM) and Red Hat, the world’s two largest commercial Linux developers, today announced developers at the companies’ world renowned Linux labs have collaborated to integrate new technologies in the Linux kernel that will help customers improve efficiency and gain a competitive edge in their industries.

Developers at IBM’s Linux Technology Center, which has some 600 engineers in 40 locations worldwide, collaborated with Red Hat’s Engineering team to integrate improved virtualization features, security enhancements, and “Real-Time Linux” capabilities into the Linux kernel. Hundreds of IBM and Red Hat developers work full-time on making Linux better as part of the open source community.

With today’s announcement, the companies said new virtualization and security capabilities in the Linux kernel will also be available in the new release of Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5. “Real-Time Linux” technologies are currently being incorporated into the kernel and will be extended to IBM and Red Hat customers in a future offering. The companies announced IBM is currently testing and certifying RHEL 5 across all of its standards-based middleware and servers and that IBM also plans to provide services and support for RHEL 5 as well.

IBM and Red Hat cited these three key Linux development innovations:

-- Xen Virtualization Optimizes IT Environments:

IBM, Red Hat and the open community have now integrated open source Xen virtualization software with the Linux kernel in addition to hardening the Xen hypervisor. Xen is open source virtualization software that helps customers increase server utilization and more efficiently manage Linux-based IT systems. The technologies will be incorporated into Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 and supported by IBM’s Virtualization portfolio of products running on Intel and Opteron processor-based servers and IBM BladeCenter systems.

IBM customer ServerCave, a website hosting and data center management company catering to individuals and SMB customers, expects to increase server utilization rates from 10 percent to nearly 80 percent running Linux-based IBM x3550 systems taking advantage of Xen virtualization capabilities. ServerCave expects to reduce new hardware acquisition for its hosted and managed customers by 75 percent. It expects to save nearly $60,000 in power and cooling expenses this year because by virtualizing its IT environment it doesn’t need to run as many servers.

-- Security Enhanced Linux Offers Greater Data Protection:

Addressing customer demand for features that provide greater data protection, IBM and Red Hat developers collaborated with the open source community to build Security-Enhanced Linux into Red Hat’s core operating system to provide Multi-Level Security capabilities. These capabilities enable enterprise customers, particularly those in the government sector, to create a mandatory access control policy that allows information to be classified as top secret, secret, confidential and unclassified. This security underpinning of the Linux kernel compartmentalizes applications and services into distinct security domains, providing a highly secure platform for applications or data for all types of customers. After testing and certification, these features will be available in RHEL 5, and supported by IBM software and systems.

The UK Cabinet Office, for instance, is currently running IBM WebSphere and Security Enhanced Linux, SELinux, together as part of a solution developed by Tresys and IBM aimed at creating a secure environment for Belmin Group’s Automated Reconciliation & Invoice Creation Service, ARIES, eProcurement application which currently runs on RHEL 4 at a National Health Service hospital trust in England. SELinux provides customers the ability to contain hackers and provide confinement for its applications.

Additionally, IBM hardware and software products running on RHEL 5 are being evaluated at the Common Criteria Evaluated Assurance Level (EAL) 4+, Labeled Security Protection Profile, Role Based Access Control Protection Profile, and Controlled Access Protection Profile (CAPP). RHEL 4U1 has currently achieved CAPP EAL 4+ certification.

New encrypted file system capabilities developed by IBM have been adopted in the kernel to protect user identity by encrypting data at the file level in systems and on laptops. Red Hat plans to include these technologies in RHEL 5.1 as a technology preview.

-- Innovation for the Future: “Real-Time Linux” Application Development Platform

IBM and Red Hat are collaborating to deliver a new “Real-Time Linux” application development and deployment platform providing customers the ability to run systems that can perform at greater processing rates with high levels of reliability. The new platform includes IBM WebSphere Real Time, a real-time J2SE Java Virtual Machine, with a real-time version of Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 running on IBM System x and BladeCenter AMD and Intel-based servers. This new computing infrastructure also provides a broad community of Java programmers the ability to develop applications that can execute and provide predictable to millisecond granularity execution times.

The U.S. Navy is an early adopter of IBM’s Real-Time Java technology running on a customized “Real-Time Linux” platform deployed by IBM, Raytheon, and Red Hat. It is taking advantage of a single and open standards-based computing environment for applications ranging from command-and-control, navigation, targeting, weapons control, and radar systems. The first-of-its kind deployment will aid the Navy’s efforts to cut the cost of developing and maintaining traditionally expensive real-time applications so it can speed the development of mission critical combatant systems for its DDG 1000 Zumwalt Class Destroyer Program. IBM is currently offering WebSphere Real-Time 1.0 running on a customized RHEL4 environment to customers in the government, financial, and telecommunications sectors.

IBM will continue to work with Red Hat and the open source community to offer performance tuning and system debugging features through a SystemTap toolkit. Additionally, the companies are also working on Samba, kernel scalability, customer testing, and numerous ongoing technology projects.

“IBM’s Linux Technology Center is an incubator for technology innovation, and ultimately for business transformation,” said Daniel Frye, vice president, Open Systems Development, IBM. “We’re continuing to work with Red Hat and the open source community to drive innovative technologies into the Linux kernel to offer customers the efficient, cost-effective production environment they need to gain a competitive edge in their own industries.”

“The upcoming release of our enterprise platform signifies much more that just an upgrade to Linux, it is the culmination of a complete enterprise architecture that includes a broad ecosystem of certified, reliable solutions from partners like IBM,” said Paul Cormier, Executive Vice President of Engineering at Red Hat. “We continue our heritage of close collaboration with customers and partners to deliver a highly relevant technology platform that delivers on performance and value.”

IBM can be reached at

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