IBM moves to speed up release of AIX test code

IBM is changing how it develops and releases AIX, saying that it wants to give users and independent software vendors a bigger role in influencing the development of the Unix operating system.

As part of the effort, AIX users will have access to new operating system features as early as a year in advance of a version upgrade. Until now, they would typically see a beta release three or four months in advance of the formal shipment. But IBM Friday said that it intends to make some of the new features planned for AIX 5.4, which is due in 2007, available for testing beginning in next year's first quarter.

"Instead of a big-bang release, what we're trying to do is give customers access to the code early," said Karl Freund, vice president of IBM's pSeries server line. The goal is to not only get new features into the hands of independent software vendors and users more quickly, but to also get early feedback on some of the concepts that the company is considering adding to the operating systems, he said.

'Open community'

IBM is calling its approach an "open community development model," and it's establishing an AIX Collaboration Center in Austin as the focal point for the effort. The company said it plans to spend US$200 million on hardware and development support for the center over the next two years.

What IBM is proposing "makes a lot of sense ... if it works," said AIX user Kenneth Ebbe, assistant to the CIO at the University of Wisconsin at Madison.