[svlug] Free remote access to Linux on POWER servers & resources

David A. Desrosiers daviddes at us.ibm.com
Sun Apr 16 20:29:36 PDT 2006


I'm reaching out to the various Linux user and developer communities
to offer free remote access to POWER hardware and other development
resources. This is not a spam message and I'm not trying to sell
anything at all, so if you're interested, please read on.

There are numerous interesting projects going on with the various
Linux on POWER and OpenPower initiatives within IBM this year and
next. But first, a brief introduction about myself..

My name is David A. Desrosiers (no, not THAT[1] David Desrosiers,
make sure you use the "A." in the middle if you Google me). I've been
working with Linux and Open Source since the early 90's back in the
days of Ygdrassil, comp.os.minix and downloading Linux onto dozens of
floppies to install it, and before that, I used AIX.

Several years ago, I used to work for a company called Linuxcare in
San Francisco, CA in their Research group with some pretty well-known
Open Source developers. Remember the original "Bootable Business
Card"[2]? That was one of our projects. "The 1-800 Number for Linux"?
We were that too. The company rapidly collapsed on itself as a Linux
and Open Source company, and all of the talent went to other

Now, I work within IBM with the title of "Linux on POWER Developer
Program Manager". I am one of the IBM interfaces into the Open Source
user and developer community to help them gain access to hardware,
documentation and other resources that they might need to develop on
Linux on POWER (LoP) or port their applications to, the POWER
platform. This isn't a "sales" position so don't worry, I'm not
collecting email addresses or selling anything, I am here strictly to
help promote hardware and resources to Open Source developers, a
community I've interfaced with for over a decade.

I'm also a long-time Open Source developer, maintainer and tinkerer
and have been for many years with Linux. I'm the current maintainer
of at least one well-known project you might know about;
pilot-link[3]. pilot-link is the glue between your Palm OS handheld
device and your Linux/Unix desktop and PIM/calendaring data. If you
use your Palm with Linux, in 99.9% of the cases, you're using code I
maintain in some way.

Lots of OSS and commercial projects rely upon the code in pilot-link
to function, and we get zero help from Palm themselves to maintain
our ongoing efforts. Plucker[4] is another very popular project I
have been using, supporting, and hacking on with a team of others for
close to 7 years. Plucker is an on-Palm application for reading
offline HTML, ebooks, text files, HOWTO documents, and other pieces
of written material. You can see some of the documents and projects
I've deployed with Plucker over here[5].

I also freely host dozens of projects and contribute code, web space,
mailing lists and other resources to help these projects succeed
through an online resource called SourceFubar.Net[6]. Feel free to
ask me about my other involvement in the Linux community if you're

But back on track... developing in very constrained and embedded
Linux environments and PDAs provides a stark contrast to developing
on something as vast and "virtual" as the POWER platform, so this is
a slight learning curve for me as well. I'm learning how to use it
just as much as you are.

My main focus within IBM is to help bridge the gap between the Open
Source development community and the internal IBM development
process, to help developers and users grow to use and like the POWER
platform as their main development platform.

Some of my tasks include helping to provide remote access to
POWER-based hardware for developers (and up-and-coming developers,
tinkerers, hackers and curious lookers-be) to use to learn, test,
debug and develop new or existing applications on the POWER platform. 
There are some subtle differences between the POWER architecture and
Intel's x86 architecture. This makes having access to real hardware
to develop on, very important. I'll go into some detail on that a bit
later if you want.

If you're interested in checking out what these POWER systems
actually feel like under the hood, you can sign up and log in
remotely to one of the University systems we've set up at the Oregon
State University, University of Portland, University of Augsburg,
Peking University and many others. It's our intent and goal to bring
several other universities online later this year as well. You'll get
a shell account, disk space and all of the tools and resources you'll
need to work with the hardware and software components on the
systems, for free. No cost at all. Truly free.


Create an account, pull over some source code from some of your
favorite projects and try building and testing it under the POWER
architecture. Each server offers its own configuration and options
with your remote (non-root) shell account.

        Oregon State University Open Source Labs:
        Server........: Apple PowerMac G5
        Equipment.....: 2-Way 2.5Ghz
        Memory........: 4GB
        Installation..: Gentoo Linux

        SourceForge.net compile farm, with OpenPower
        Server........: OpenPower 720
        Installation..: SuSE Enterprise Linux 9

        University of Portland Linux on Power Portal
        Server........: OpenPower 720
        Equipment.....: 4-Way POWER5
        Memory........: 8GB
        Installation..: Debian

        Australia National University
        Server........: OpenPower 720
        Equipment.....: 4-Way POWER5
        Memory........: 2GB
        Installation..: Debian

        University of Augsburg, in Augsburg Germany (Debian)
        Server........: OpenPower 720
        Equipment.....: 4-Way POWER5
        Memory........: 8GB
        Installation..: Debian

        Peking University, Peking China (SuSE)
        Server........: OpenPower 720
        Equipment.....: 4-Way POWER5
        Memory........: 16GB
        Installation..: SuSE Enterprise 9

There's quite a few other things going on that I'll elaborate on
later. I'm busy developing on the POWER architecture, splitting my
duties between being an interpretor for the Open Source community/IBM
as well as my own Open Source responsibilities. It's great, fun stuff

Feel free to comment or ask me any questions you might have about how
you can get involved, and I'll do what I can to get you the answer,
or point you to the right people who can get you the answer.

Don't forget to check out or Linux on POWER blogs[7] and our Linux on
POWER Wiki[8] as well, if you're interested in getting involved.

David A. Desrosiers
daviddes at us.ibm.com
Linux on POWER Developer Program Manager

[1] http://www.simpleplan.com/band.php
[2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bootable_business_card
[3] http://www.pilot-link.org/
[4] http://www.plkr.org/
[5] http://code.plkr.org/
[6] http://www.sourcefubar.net/
[7] http://www.ibm.com/developerworks/blogs/dw_blog.jspa?roll=0&blog=752
[8] http://www-941.haw.ibm.com/collaboration/wiki/display/LinuxP/Home

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