The Itanium version of Linux crossed an important threshold Monday, developers said: It now can be built from the standard software maintained by Linux leader Linus Torvalds rather than requiring special patches.
"As of this morning, Linus' current (kernel) builds and works out of the box for ia64!" Linux-Itanium leader David Mosberger, a Hewlett-Packard programmer, said in a mailing list message. The version uses Torvalds' 2.5 development version of the kernel, or heart, of Linux, which in coming months is expected to become the 2.6 version, which will be sound enough for real-world use.
IA-64 is the former name for the set of instructions the Itanium processor can understand. The fact that those instructions are different from Intel's widely used Pentium and Xeon processors means that building an Itanium version of Linux--or any other software--has its challenges.