Several computer hardware giants have joined forces to fund an independent, non-profit making laboratory to speed the development and testing of enterprise-class Linux systems.
IBM, Intel, Hewlett Packard and NEC said today they are the main backers of the lab where application developers can test Linux software on high-end computer systems.
The Open Source Development Lab (OSDL), which will receive millions of dollars of investment mainly from the four vendors, is expected to open this year in Portland, Oregon.
Dell and Silicon Graphics are also supporting its foundation.
While it will not create new projects itself, the lab will be open to developers of new and existing projects that conform to accepted open source development models.
It will be run by an independent board which will include members of the open source community as well as the sponsor companies. The board will select the projects that can gain access to the lab in what the four main backers describe as an "open, neutral process".
Open source vendors such as Caldera, Red Hat, LinuxCare, SuSE, TurboLinux, and VA Linux will provide support staff and software for the project.
Colin Tenwick, European general manager at Red Hat, said work in the lab will range from the design of development tools to kernel projects aimed at advancing the enterprise capabilities of Linux-based systems and allowing the operating system to "scale up".
He said, for example, that the lab would carry forward software development work for Linux on Intel's forthcoming Itanium 64bit microprocessor chip.
Jon Collins, technical director at Sundial Consultancy, welcomed the move and said the investment will create the fully-fledged development environment necessary to create enterprise class applications. He added that additional resource for development was needed to take the growing volume of technology forward that vendors have released into the open source community.
"It isn't the case if you label something open source that there is an infinite number of people willing to jump on it," said Collins. "The lab will provide coherence for open source development and guard against the fragmentation of Linux."
Eric Raymond, an open source advocate, and Brian Behlendorf, co-founder of Apache, have announced their support for the project and are already developing applications for use in the lab.
"The OSDL will help fulfil a need that individual Linux and open source developers often have - access to high-end enterprise hardware," said Behlendorf.
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