PowerLinux FAQ

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Here are some frequently asked questions about PowerLinux. If you don't find your question below, please let us know and ask on the PowerLinux Community Message Board.


Q: What is PowerLinux?

A: PowerLinux™ is industry standard Linux running on IBM® Power Systems™ servers. PowerLinux combines the strength of the Power platform with industry standard Linux.


Q: Why choose PowerLinux?

A: For all of the following reasons:

  • PowerLinux is built on world-class Power Systems servers.
  • It has better performance than x86.
  • It is more scalable than VMWare.
  • It is more reliable than Windows.


Q: What are the supported Linux distributions for Power Systems servers?

A: Red Hat Enterprise Linux and SUSE Linux Enterprise Server are supported on PowerLinux. See Supported Linux distributions for PowerLinux servers in the Linux Information Center for more details.


Q: What PowerLinux system features are supported by which Linux distributions?

A: Refer to Supported features for PowerLinux servers for a list of features and which SUSE Linux Enterprise Server and Red Hat Enterprise Linux versions support them.


Q: How can I find applications that run on PowerLinux?

A: Look in the packages supplied for enterprise distribution you are interested in. You can look in the ISOs or the installation libraries if you have access to them. This is the most definitive source. Here are some other ways to find applications in Linux distributions:

  • Red Hat Enterprise Linux: Use your favorite web search engine and search for RHEL6 manifest.  One of your top search results will contain a pointer to the Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6 manifest document, which lists all the packages contained in the distribution. 
  • For SUSE Linux Enterprise Server: Do a web search for SUSE supported packages. One of the top results will be a link to a SUSE page that describes the support levels. In this page there should be a link to all packages, which will have a link for packages available on IBM Power systems.
  • For the community Fordora Linux distribution: Obtain the install ISO and look in the Packages directory tree for the package you are interested in. Or, go to http://ppc.koji.fedoraproject.org/koji/ and search for the package that you are interested in.
  • For Ubuntu: Official: http://packages.ubuntu.com | 14.04LTS

    Unofficial: http://launchpad.net/ubuntu | 14.04LTS

Another option is to visit the application's community site. Most have search boxes. Search for PowerPC, PPC, PowerLinux, or Power Linux. If this does not work, you can post the question on the community web site or mailing list.


Q: Where can I download opensource software for PowerLinux?

A: The SourceForge website is one of the most comprehensive sites for downloading open-source software and code for Linux.


Q: What is PowerVM?

A: PowerVM is an industry-strength virtualization solution for IBM Power Systems servers. PowerVM provides a secure and scalable server virtualization environment for AIX, IBM i, and Linux applications built on the advanced RAS features and leading performance of the Power platform.


Q: Which IBM Power Systems servers run Linux?

A: All IBM Power Systems servers run Linux.


Q: What are Linux-only Power Systems servers?

A: These are the IBM POWER7+™ based servers that run Linux only. They include:


Q: I want to evaluate IBM Power Systems servers before purchasing. Is that possible?

A: Yes. IBM Virtual Loaner Program offers no-charge remote access to IBM hardware. See the Virtual Loaner Program page for more information.


Q: I want to evaluate PowerLinux before purchasing. Is that possible?

A: Yes. Both Red Hat and SUSE offer 60-day trail versions. See Linux Evaluation Copies for more details.

Q: How can I get access to PowerLinux hardware to develop open source applications that run on PowerLinux?

A: Oregon State University has a PowerLinux development lab for which open source developers can request access. Find more details ehre: https://www.ibm.com/developerworks/community/blogs/fe313521-2e95-46f2-817d-44a4f27eba32/entry/power_development_hosting_osu_open_source_lab?lang=en


Q: Will my x86 Linux application just run on PowerLinux?

A: Yes, if it is a purely scripted application like shell scripts, Ruby, Perl, python, etc. (no compiled code). However, if your application uses languages that need compilation, it will need to be recompiled on PowerLinux. In some cases, the application may also need to be ported to PowerLinux. The IBM Software Development Kit for PowerLinux can help.


Q: What are some “configure” tips when building open source code on PowerLinux?

A: Learn what the configure options are by running: < configure –help.

By default, configure tries to compile the source with the gcc compiler if it is found on the system. You will need to set the CC environment variable to thethird party compiler you want to use if it is not gcc: XLC, C-Borland, etc. You can use the CFLAGS environment variable to pass in customer compiler flags for the build stage.


Q: Can I migrate the VMWare Linux image to PowerVM?

A: No. VMWare runs only on the x86 platform. PowerVM runs only on the IBM Power platform.


Q: I'm planning for hardware. Is there any reference architecture or sizing information I can refer to?

A: Yes. See the following resources:


Q: Are there any performance best practices?

A: Yes. See Performance rocks -- best practices.


Q: How do I estimate system requirements?

A: You can estimate system requirements for CPU, memory, and networking by using test results from an existing environment or benchmarks. Then, use the IBM Systems Workload Estimator tool for sizing.


Q: Can I use the same Linux DVDs to install my Power Systems server as I used for my x86 server?

A: No. PowerLinux and x86 are different architectures that use different instruction sets. You cannot use the x86 install DVDs (or x86 compiled applications) on Power Systems servers. You must use PowerLinux installation DVDs.


Q: I do not want to install and set up my PowerLinux server. Can I request IBM to preload Linux?

A: Yes. You can request IBM to pre-load your choice of Red Hat Enterprise Linux or SUSE Linux Enterprise Server.


Q: Where can I find information for installing Linux on my PowerLInux server myself?

A: See Installing Linux on PowerLinux servers in the Linux Information Center for PowerLinux installation quick start guides, quick start video demos, how-to topics, concepts, installation FAQs, and troubleshooting topics.


Q: Are there any tools for PowerLinux server setup?

A: Yes. The IBM Installation Toolkit for PowerLinux provides a set of tools that speeds up the installation of Linux. The IBM Installation Toolkit gives you access to the IBM value-added software necessary to fully use the capabilities of the Power platform. You can use the IBM Installation Toolkit for the following:


  • Install and configure Linux on a non-virtualized Power System server.
  • Install and configure Linux on servers with previously-configured logical partitions (LPARs, also known as virtualized servers).
  • Install IBM service and productivity tools on a new or previously installed Linux system. The IBM service and productivity tools include dynamic logical partition (DLPAR) utilities.
  • Upgrade system firmware level on Power Systems servers.
  • Perform diagnostics or maintenance operations on previously installed systems.
  • Access documentation resources included with IBM Installation Toolkit.
  • Migrate a LAMP server (software stack) and application data from a System x® to a System p® system.

For detailed information about using the IBM Installation Toolkit, see Installing Linux with the IBM Installation Toolkit for PowerLinux.

In addition, the IBM Installation Setup Simplified Setup Tool guides you through the process of quickly and easily configuring one or more open source workloads on your PowerLinux server. The Simplified Setup Tool is included in the IBM Installation Toolkit. You can access the Simplified Setup Tool directly through a web browser at http:~//serverIP:6060 where serverIP is the IP address or the domain name of the server.


For information about the Simplified Setup Tool, see Setting up workloads using the IBM Installation Toolkit Simplified Setup Tool.


Q: What's the difference between PowerLinux and x86?

A: See PowerLinux and x86 comparison in the Linux Information Center for information about terminology and configuration differences.


Q: Can I run 32-bit applications on PowerLinux?

A: Yes. IBM Power Systems servers are designed to run 32-bit and 64-bit applications written for 64-bit IBM Power Architecture technology. Older 32-bit applications can run on 64-bit Linux operating system-based servers and take advantage of larger managed memory of the operating system.


Q: Do commonly used open source tools run on PowerLinux?

A: Yes. The Power versions of Red Hat Enterprise Linux and SUSE Linux Enterprise Server ship most of the commonly used open source tools, such as iostat, vmstat, top, Perl, python, and so forth.


Q: What are the key products and services optimized for PowerLinux?

A: See the following solutions:


Q: Are there any certified applications on PowerLinux?

A: Yes. Use the IBM Global Solutions Directory to search available certified applications on PowerLinux.


Q: How easy is it to migrate applications to PowerLinux?

A: It depends on the characteristics of the application, but, generally speaking migration is simple and straightforward. See Porting to Linux on Power for tips and techniques.


Q: Are there any resources for IBM Business Partners who want to sell PowerLinux?

A: Yes.  See IBM PowerLinux on PartnerWorld and the IBM PowerLinux Sales Kit.


Q: Does IBM provide any additional tools to optimize PowerLinux?

A: Yes. IBM provides several additional, free tools.

IBM PowerLinux service and productivity tools

Service and productivity tools include hardware inventory tools, hardware and service diagnostic aids, performance tools, Power RAID utilities, and installation aids for PowerLinux. See Managing your server with service and productivity tools in the Linux Information Center for details.

IBM Software Development Kit for PowerLinux

The IBM SDK for PowerLinux is a free, Eclipse-based Integrated Development Environment (IDE) that provides you with an all-in-one solution for developing software on and porting software to PowerLinux servers. It provides integration of open source tools (such as OProfile, valgrind, and autotools) and IBM tools (such as FDPR) into a single graphical user interface. See Developing software using the IBM Software Development Kit for PowerLinux in the Linux Information Center for details.

IBM Advance Toolchain for PowerLinux

The IBM Advance Toolchain for PowerLinux provides early and easy access to libraries and the latest compiler technologies for Linux distributions. It includes FSF tools (GNU) optimized for the latest Power hardware. And, it allows users to take ladvantage of the latest Power hardware features on Linux, including an optimized scheduler, hardware DFP instructions support, and VSX enablement with auto-vectorization. For details, see: