April 12, 2004
64-bit Computing Linux Style
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Jack Horgan - Contributing Editor

by Jack Horgan - Contributing Editor
Posted anew every four weeks or so, the EDA WEEKLY delivers to its readers information concerning the latest happenings in the EDA industry, covering vendors, products, finances and new developments. Frequently, feature articles on selected public or private EDA companies are presented. Brought to you by EDACafe.com. If we miss a story or subject that you feel deserves to be included, or you just want to suggest a future topic, please contact us! Questions? Feedback? Click here. Thank you!

Support for 64-bit computing under Linux is available from most leading computer vendors. For example, HP and Intel actually co-developed the Itantium IA-64 architecture based upon more than a decade of research work at HP-Labs. On February 24th HP and AMD announced the introduction of AMD Opteron processor-based systems in the HP ProLiant server family. The two companies have agreed to work together to drive next-generation server capabilities through a multi-year purchasing, marketing and technology collaboration agreement. At the recent Intel Developers Forum Shane Robison, HP Chief strategy and technology officer, said “Building upon HP's rich history of innovation with
Intel across
the IA-32 and Itanium platforms, we will offer customers solutions utilizing the Intel Itanium 2 processors as well as Intel Xeon processors with 64-bit extension technology to provide the best performance, availability and scalability in the market". For an informative article consult


Linux is an operating system that was initially created as a hobby by a young student, Linus Torvalds, at the University of Helsinki in Finland. Versions 1.0 of the Linux kernel was released in 1994. Over the years, Linux has gathered the support of 1000s of kernel, application and documentation developers. Today Linux has all the features you would expect in a modern fully-fledged UNIX, including true multitasking, virtual memory, shared libraries, demand loading, shared copy-on-write executables, proper memory management, and TCP/IP networking.

In 2002 IDC forecast that the CAGR for Linux revenue would be 29.3% ending at $291 million in 2006. The CAGR for revenue shipments would be 18% for both servers and clients. For 2006 IDC forecast nearly 12,500 new revenue shipments with clients accounting for 70% of those shipments. IDC also predicts 27% CAGR for free Linux shipments during this time period with 12,000 shipments in 2006.

A 2002 European survey by OpenForum Europe found that 49% of CIOs in financial services, retail, and the public sector expect to be using Open Source software and 37% already are. The perceived benefits included decreased costs in general (54%), lower software license cost (24%), better control over development (22%), and improved security (22%).

Another example of highly successful open source software is the Apache web server. According to Netcraft's Web Survey of over 48 million sites in March Apache has a 67% share versus Microsoft's IIS 21% share. Since October 2002 Apache market share has grown from 53% to a 23% gain while Microsoft IIS has shrunk from 36% a 15% decline.

Who is in charge of Linux?

For the kernel Linus Torvalds is in charge. Linux developers are self-organized into specific subsystems defined by a developer's interests and technical expertise. Each of these subsystems has a domain expert developer, the “maintainer”, who oversees the work of others. Subsystem maintainers review the code submitted to them and arrange broad peer review of code to ensure its quality. Torvalds maintains the "development kernel" where new features and bug fixes are tested. Andrew Morton maintains the "production kernel" which is the version release for public use. Torvalds is the final arbiter of what is included in Linux. All Linux code, both the current version and that
submitted for
future inclusion, is available on-line for public examination. This allows literally thousands of interested parties to scrutinize submitted code in what amounts to a massive code review.

There are any number of organization, publications and websites dedicated in some way to the development and/or promotion of Linux.
For example, the Open Systems Development Labs (OSDL) - now home to Linus Torvalds - is dedicated to accelerating the growth and adoption of Linux in the enterprise. Founded in 2000 and supported by a global consortium of IT industry leaders, OSDL is a non-profit organization that provides state-of the-art computing and test facilities in the United States and Japan available to developers around the world. OSDL's founding members are IBM, HP, CA, Intel, and NEC. The OSDL mission is to be the recognized center of gravity for Linux; the central body dedicated to accelerating the use of Linux for enterprise computing.

Creating and selling Linux distributions has become a multi-million dollar business. Boxed version of Linux are available from companies such as Red Hat, SuSE, MandrakeSoft and others. One can also download Linux from any number of websites. There are distributions of all types and for practically any kind of computing endeavor.

There are a wide range of open source projects developing applications for Linux including desktop management systems such as KDE and GNOME, office suite projects such as OpenOffice.org and web browser projects such as Mozilla.

Linux Vendors

Founded in 1993, Red Hat is a leading Linux and open source provider. The company's first product Red Hat Linux now has two descendants: Red Hat Enterprise Linux and the Fedora Project. Red Hat Enterprise Linux is the solution that provides a robust, stable operating system supported by Red Hat, Inc. and a wide variety of ISVs. The Fedora Project is an openly-developed project designed by Red Hat, open for general participation, led by a meritocracy, following a set of project objectives.

Red Hat went public in 1999. For the fiscal year ended February 29, 2004, the company reported revenues of $126 million, an increase of 39% as compared to fiscal 2003. The company reported net income of $14 million compared to a net loss of $6.6 million for fiscal 2003. Two thirds of the revenue was from subscription and one third from services. Renewal rate was ~90%. The company reported over 160,000 cumulative sales of Red Hat Enterprise Linux technologies since the launch in March 2003.

Red Hat Enterprise Linux supports 5 distinct processor architectures, namely Intel x86 compatible, Itanium, AMD64, IBM Power PC and IBM Mainframe. The Red Hat Enterprise Linux family has 3 members: the AS (“Advanced Server”) supports all five processor architecture, the ES (“entry/mid server”) only the Intel x86 and WS (“workstation”) the three non-IBM architectures. A customer configurations might well involves a mixture of all three. In addition Red Hat offers a number of layered applications such as a developers' suite, content management, portal server and web application framework. Products are sold through a subscription model.

Red Hat had announced that after six years it would cease support of its current free distribution as of Dec 2004. In September 2003 Red Hat launched the Fedora Project to work with the Linux community to build a complete, general purpose operating system exclusively from open source software Red Hat will not provide any formal Web or phone support for The Fedora Project.

SUSE LINUX AG was founded in 1992 in Germany. SUSE offers software solutions and turnkey systems for the deployment of Linux in the enterprise as well as operating systems and application software for private customers. The company supports its business customers with an extensive range of qualified consulting, training, and support services. SUSE's product and service portfolio includes the design and implementation of Open Source IT infrastructures, Internet connections, security concepts, and data management. SUSE LINUX guarantees the full platform independence of its products. SUSE claims an install base of 15 million private and professional Linux users. SUSE LINUX has developed
AutoBuild process, a certifiable production workflow that enables the delivery of new product versions and product platforms as well as quality-assured patches and bug fixes. Currently, SUSE LINUX AG hosts about 380 employees at six national and four international locations. SUSE Linux has formed service partnerships with the likes of IBM Global Services, SAP, HP Services and Fujitsu Siemens Computers.

In early November 2003 Novell announced an agreement to acquire SUSE Linux for $210 million in cash. The transaction was completed in January. On the same day Novell also announced that IBM intends to make a $50 million investment in Novell convertible preferred stock.

Free Software?

Linux is distributed under the GNU General Public License (GPL). The GPL grants the rights to use, modify, and redistribute the program's code or any program derived from it but only if the distribution terms (source code availability) are unchanged. This is often referred to as Copyleft.

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-- Jack Horgan, EDACafe.com Contributing Editor.

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