Home
 > Research and Reports > TEC Blog > Red Hat Plays 'Love You, Love You Not' with CPUs

Red Hat Plays 'Love You, Love You Not' with CPUs

Written By: R. Krause
Published On: December 21 2000

Red Hat Plays "Love You, Love You Not" with CPUs
R. Krause - December 21, 2000

Event Summary

[Source: Red Hat, CNET, et al.] November 27, 2000

Red Hat Inc. announced the release of Red Hat Alpha Deluxe, its Linux version that will run on computers powered by Compaq Computer Corporation's "Alpha" processor. Compaq will pre-install Alpha Deluxe on its AlphaServer DS and ES lines, as well as its Alpha-based workstations. In addition to being customized for Alpha, it will utilize the GNOME interface, and will ship with 800 additional programs.

Red Hat has also announced that it will no longer support Sun Microsystems' Sparc processor, beginning with Version 7, Red Hat's most recent release of Linux. According to Red Hat, there was insufficient demand for Sparc-based Linux.

Red Hat will continue to provide an unsupported Sparc edition in its "Rawhide" developer version, and the company could restart the Sparc version if demand picks up. The company also will continue to support the earlier Sparc versions of its software, she said.

Market Impact

In the grand scheme of things, losing Linux-on-Sparc compatibility is not that big a deal - the market just wasn't there. Sun's history shows it has marginal interest at best in anything other than Solaris-on-Sparc, witness their lackluster support of Solaris-on-Intel. But with Sun's recent acquisition of Cobalt Networks, one would think that they had become slightly more attuned to Linux. Perhaps it is a case of good intentions acted on too little and too late, but we tend to believe that Sun will continue to be "Solaris first, last, and always", until Linux takes over the world.

Red Hat's Linux for Alpha has the potential of being a good thing for both companies. Compaq's Linux support is relatively weak when compared to IBM and Dell. However, we believe Compaq has realized that the Alpha chip's probable mainstream future (if it exists) lies with Linux. The other operating systems that Alpha supports, Compaq's OpenVMS and Tru64 UNIX, are more appropriate for high-end servers, and for some Alpha-based workstations.

User Recommendations

Linux-on-Sparc customers are as rare as a new millenium, so that loss will have little practical impact.

However, Compaq has realized that the Alpha chip's probable mainstream future (if it exists) lies with Linux. The other operating systems Alpha supports, Compaq's OpenVMS and Tru64 UNIX, are more appropriate for high-end servers, and for some Alpha-based workstations.

Users who want low-end Linux servers should consider AlphaServers such as the DS10/10L and DS20. (We really, really wanted to include the words "high performance", but their current benchmarks are a little underwhelming). Until Compaq makes a more concerted effort to exploit the low-end market with Alpha's supposed high performance, we suggest potential customers explore other Linux options as well.

Note to Alpha supporters: If Compaq starts "kicking a little tail" with appropriate published performance figures, we will delete the qualifier in the previous sentence. However, until their benchmark figures focus more on SYSTEM performance, and less on older CPU performance tests (viz. SPECint95, SPECfp95), we'll take that bet. We understand that benchmarks are only an indicator of performance - but how will customers know how great your systems are if the only benchmarks to which they can refer have little, if anything, to do with their intended application.

In effect, there is minimal Alpha presence on the desktop. That leaves the low-end server market as the means to improve volumes and thus lower system cost. That implies a "natural" fit between Linux and small AlphaServers.

 
comments powered by Disqus

Recent Searches
Others A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

©2014 Technology Evaluation Centers Inc. All rights reserved.