What is PowerLinux, a Power operating system or Linux operating system?
jscheel 0600025BWM Visits (4465)
By: Jeff Scheel.
Life as the PowerLinux Chief Architect involves answering many questions, some of which need lengthy explanations. One such example is whether PowerLinux is a Power operating system or a Linux operating system. In some ways this discussion reminds me of the campfire scene from the 1986 movie Stand by Me where the boys deeply contemplate Disney characters. Essentially the discussion went this way: Mickey's a mouse, Donald's a duck, Pluto's a dog, what is Goofy? The discussion about PowerLinux generally follows similar flow: IBM i OS is a business operating system, AIX is a UNIX operating system, Linux is an open source (x86) operating system, what is Powe
Simply put, PowerLinux strives to be "a Linux" first. To break this premise would invalidate the core value of Linux as the most prolific, cross-platform operating system. PowerLinux supports this premise so confidently that we've included it in our value proposition: Industry standard Linux, tuned to the task. As I've discussed in previous blog entries, PowerLinux is the same Linux operating system by Red Hat and SUSE, built from the same source, comprised of the same package versions, and delivered on the same schedule. IBM embraces this commonality and further works to actively eliminate as many barriers as practically possible. For example, we are actively working in the grub2 community to enable Power as a supported platform. This will enable us to use the same bootloader as x86 in future Linux releases. While most end users will never see the bootloader, PowerLinux remains committed to keeping Linux standard.
In some specific instances we extend Linux capabilities with Power operating system capabilities. Examples of this scenario include tools which are common to other Power operating systems like the rsct tools for HMC-client OS communication, drmgr for dynamic LPAR operations, and lsvpd for reporting device information. Most of these tools have software that is enabled more efficiently by having a common interface. None of these tools replace existing Linux tools.
Where I draw the line in being a Power operating system is in areas which clearly have Linux equivalents. For example, installation from NIM servers is an area where PowerLinux has traditionally not invested. While it is possible to perform such installs and some folks have graciously documented how to do so, IBM invests very little in ensuring this capabilities work. Instead, we focus on Linux installation through kickstart, yast, and anaconda as enabled by the Linux vendors.
So, with those examples, I hope you now have a greater appreciation for PowerLinux and agree that we are a "Linux," not a "Goofy".