August 21, 2001 9:00 PM PDT

HP to sell secure version of Linux

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Hewlett-Packard will sell a secure version of Linux, a product that marks a departure for computer makers that traditionally have favored partnerships with companies such as Red Hat that sell Linux.

HP Secure OS Software for Linux, which will be announced Wednesday, will cost about $3,000, said Roberto Medrano, general manager of HP's Internet Security division. It includes a version 2.4 of Linux with open-source HP enhancements, higher-level software such as Apache Web server, and utilities that tightly control communications between programs and detect attacks.

The move is a departure for companies such as HP that sell servers, the powerful networked computers on which the Linux operating system is most popular. HP, IBM, Compaq Computer and Dell Computer historically have preferred partnerships with the major companies that sell Linux--Red Hat, Caldera International, SuSE and Turbolinux--to creating a version of Linux of their own.

The secure Linux product will be available for HP servers or others that pass the qualification tests Red Hat uses to assure a computer can run its latest version 7.1, said Bill Wear, product manager for HP's secure Linux offerings. HP will also sell consulting services to ensure a customer site has a secure enough infrastructure for the product, he added.

Other organizations, including Guardian Digital and Bastille Linux, already are working on secure versions of Linux, while the National Security Agency is funding Network Associates to create a more secure version.

HP's first version is a software package that is installed from scratch on a server. The company plans to accommodate upgrades of existing systems with version 2.0.

In addition to the secure version of Linux, HP announced a software product, Chai-LX, that mixes Linux with HP's Chai software--a clone of Sun Microsystems' Java product.

The software is used in HP's Digital Entertainment Center, a device expected later this year that can accept audio streams from the Internet and record CDs. HP plans to use Chai-LX in other consumer products, said Dino Brusco, marketing manager for HP's embedded software division.


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