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Donovan Sets Up 64-bit Linux Lab

Donovan Systems Pte Ltd has set up the country's first 64-bit Linux computing laboratory(Fig), reinforcing the Linux movement in Malaysia and the region.

The Singapore-based manufacturer of 64-bit Linux servers set up the Penguin64 Lab in partnership with Sunway College.

"The momentum for both 64-bit computing and Linux is growing rapidly worldwide, and this is an ideal opportunity for Malaysian students to gain direct experience," said Donovan's chief executive Gary Foong in a statement.

The lab is aimed at teaching Linux courses as well as encouraging students to develop 64-bit Linux applications. Equipped with 20 Donovan Endeavor 64-bit Linux servers(Fig), the lab will initially cater for 80 students, with more than 200 expected to be using the facility in the future.

The new lab is part of Donovan's region-wide strategy to roll-out similar resource labs in all tertiary institutions in Asia in the near-term.

Donovan's Endeavor server costs under US$2,000 and is built using a Sun Microsystems' Ultra AXe motherboard with an integrated 300MHz UltraSPARC-IIi chip and comes bundled with the Red Hat Linux operating system. It is touted as an ideal Internet or intranet server to host high-traffic Web sites, thousands of mail-boxes or a busy database.

Founded in 1991, Donovan is a pioneer in 64-bit Linux development in Asia, and the first to develop a 64-bit Chinese Linux operating system called Chinese Penguin64.

It has also established Penguin64.org, a portal to encourage software developers, hobbyists and students to port or develop applications for 64-bit Linux systems.

The company's headquarters are in Singapore with offices in Malaysia, Hong Kong, China and in the Silicon Valley, and plans are underway to expand into the Philippines, Thailand, Taiwan, Korea and Japan in 2001.

Foong said that the company is banking on the belief that growing Internet penetration in the region will encourage small and medium enterprises to want to "e-enable" their businesses, with Web access and e-mail as the driving applications.

Linux Picks Up Steam

Analysts have indicated that the Linux movement is continuing to attract more users in Asia. Wary of high prices associated with proprietary software, the markets are looking for a viable alternative.

Increased collaboration among developers worldwide, greater awareness of Linux and its marketing variants, and the rising need for infrastructure servers are the key drivers expected to increase Linux adoption in the next few years.

On the training end, Robert Hart, Red Hat Inc's director of professional services for Asia Pacific, said demand for Red Hat Development and Red Hat Device Driver training programs is on the rise.

The leading Linux player has trained over 200 corporate and professional developers on Linux-based enterprise software in Asia since it set up operations in Singapore in March 2000.

Among Red Hat's popular programs are its introduction, system administration, networking and security administration, and certified engineer.

Hart pointed out that the potential for developing Linux-based device drivers is high as the region is populated by numerous hardware manufacturers looking at offering alternative hardware platforms to users.

"There is a need to develop the right drivers for hardware products and we are advancing in this area by creating Red Hat developer courses," he said, adding that the training courses were typically conducted in a "hands-on, lab-intensive" style.

"We intend to increase our capacity this year through more training partnerships via reseller programs and channel partners as the market continues to mature," he said.

Hart does not rule out academic link-ups as he has received enquiries from both private and public educational institutions in Malaysia interested in offering Red Hat courses to undergraduates.

by Julian Matthews, Kuala Lumpur

(February 2001 Issue, Nikkei Electronics Asia)

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