September 28, 2001

Web review: Linux at

Author: JT Smith

- by Tina Gasperson -
Yes, we all know that IBM is one of the biggest supporters of Linux and other Open Source software. We know they're a huge company with many interests in many different companies. If one were to stumble onto a section of the Web site dedicated to hardware, one might come to the conclusion that IBM favors Microsoft.Try it. Go to and click on that cool looking Thinkpad deal right there on the front page. Now that is a good price. Click through to the specifications, and you'll see that, according to the verbiage, IBM recommends Microsoft: "IBM PC's use genuine Microsoft Windows." Probably something they have to say contractually. Not a big deal, we all know how to put the Linux CD in the drive and hit "install."

However, there are places on the IBM website to which one could surf and truly believe that IBM is sold out to Linux -- even, to my eyes, to the point of being anti-Microsoft. Check it out: go to Nothing too terribly surprising -- we've even reviewed the Linux section of IBM's high-quality developerWorks webzine before and we gathered they like Linux pretty well.

The thing that shocked me was the newsfeed under "Industry News." You have to scroll down to see it =- maybe there's a reason for that. The headlines showing up when I visited included: "Korean Firms Protest Against Microsoft;" "MS moves to head off Linux desktop 'threat';" "When Operating Systems Advocates Attack;" "Time to stand up to Microsoft;" "Consumer Group Coalition Warns Feds about Microsoft;" "Microsoft XP is Bigger, But Not Better;" "Exposing Microsoft Contracts to the Light;" and more -- I could go on, but you get it, I'm sure.

What would the Windows reps say if they saw the Linux at IBM site? I'm not complaining here, just following a train of thought =- does it seem a tad bit hypocritical that, on the one hand IBM "recommends" Microsoft Windows for its hardware, yet on the other hand sets up a site that seems to bash MS, not overtly, but by dint of its linkage? Obviously, they need to get rid of that "recommendation" crap right away. (wink, wink.)

Another new and interesting feature on the front page of the Linux at IBM site was a small ad admonishing me to "take the IBM Linux Scholar Challenge." OK, I'll bite, I thought. Clicking on the penguin took me to the not-Linux-specific IBM Student Portal. Not being a student, but having the curious nature of a really young person, I read on. The object is to select a Linux project, write a three page paper detailing objectives, methodology, research and results, and submit it for evaluation. You have to be enrolled full-time in an accredited college or university and you have to be at least 18. Winners get one of those cool IBM Thinkpads, among other things.

Backing up to the front page, I see a few other things that spark my interest: a Linux IT Executive Corner -- which turned out to be a bad link; a link to a photo entitled "IBM and Linux cut cake," which was a picture of a Linux marketing dude handing Linus a birthday cake with a penguin on it; and a link to a free cluster starter kit for Linux, which is kind of a demo version of IBM's Cluster Systems Management app. The free version enables clusterization of up to six nodes with a single control point.

You might also like to check out the Software Evaluation kit, which is free and gets you hooked up with preview versions of IBM's development tools. There's a lot more to explore at the Linux at IBM site, so don't just take my word for it -- go see.


  • Linux
Click Here!