Court's verdict: Linux over Solaris

The Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts recently announced it would port several mission-critical applications from the Solaris-on-Intel platform to Red Hat.

Government adoption of Linux and open source software continues to hurdle new barriers and reach new benchmarks.

In the last 12 months, for example, SuSE Linux AG and Red Hat Inc. have achieved new Common Criteria certification levels for their enterprise server offerings. Also, the Department of Defense has officially endorsed the use of open source software, provided it meets department-approved security guidelines.

Product support announcements within the industry precluded further deployments using the existing Solaris/x86 platform.
Karen Redmond
Public information officer Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts

There have also been major desktop conversions to Linux in China and in the cities of Munich, Germany, and Austin, Texas.

Movement isn't limited to the desktop and network perimeter, though. The Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts recently announced it was moving several mission-critical applications from the Solaris Unix operating system to Linux.

Specifically, the organization will be moving its court and probation-pretrial services case management applications, as well as its finance and accounting applications, from Solaris, which it uses on Intel's x86 server architecture, to Red Hat Enterprise Linux Advance Server. The Red Hat product will run on Hewlett-Packard Co.'s ProLiant servers, which use Intel Xeon chips.

"Product support announcements within the industry precluded further deployments using the existing Solaris/x86 platform," said Karen Redmond, public information officer for the organization, in an e-mail interview. "The replacement Linux/x86 platform was selected as representing the best value for the judiciary, based on its open-standards approach, marketplace acceptance, and cost-performance."

PEC Solutions Inc., in Fairfax, Va., will support the transition for at least the next year, with an option to extend the contract. Specifically, PEC will support application migration to Linux and provide technical support and installation of Red Hat.

"The migration from Solaris/x86 to Linux/x86 will be managed by in-house staff. Contractual assistance will be used as needed to augment in-house staff in providing additional technical and logistical support for the nationwide transition," Redmond said.

Redmond said the migration will be carried out over the next few years and will coincide with upcoming releases of the applications being ported.

"Since the migration is moving from Solaris Unix to Red Hat Linux, it is expected that the amount of technical staff training required will be modest," Redmond said. She would not indicate how much the organization would be saving with the move.

She also said that preliminary benchmarks comparing Solaris-on-Intel to Linux showed that the two platforms are similar. The organization is a proponent of open source, she said, but noted that Windows and Solaris on SPARC were also considered.

"The federal judiciary has long embraced the notion of open technical standards and prefers technology solutions that are portable and non-proprietary, to the extent such solutions are available to meet the business needs of the judiciary," Redmond said.

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