With the open-source distribution source code, developers will be able to create Linux-based programs for Itanium, Intel's first 64-bit processor based on its IA-64 architecture, which is expected to power high-end servers and workstations. Itanium is due to go into production in the third quarter of this year.
The pervasiveness of the Linux operating system should significantly increase with its support for Itanium, Melissa London, a Red Hat spokeswoman, said today. Some IT industry observers had questioned the open-source operating system's ability to run high-end systems, she added.
"A lot of issues have been raised about the scalability of Linux in the high-end environment," London said. "This (source code release) is going to enable a high-end, intensive computing environment."
The Red Hat alpha source code can be downloaded for free at ftp://ftp.redhat.com/pub/redhat/ia64.
In an unprecedented move, Intel last week published a guide to Itanium's full functional behavior in order to encourage software developers to create optimised products for the upcoming chip.
Intel has spearheaded the IA-64 Linux project, originally known as the Trillian project, in a concerted effort to port the IA-64 chip to Linux. Intel, Red Hat, IBM, Hewlett-Packard and others are participating in the project.
The final Red Hat version of its IA-64 Linux distribution source code will be released at the same time as Itanium, Red Hat's London said.