Chalk up another casualty of the Hewlett-Packard/Compaq merger. For two years, Bruce Perens was an in-house evangelist for the Linux operating system at computer giant HP. He would go around extolling the virtues of the open source software to corporate clients, pointing out that it was secure, cheap and kept customers from being locked into proprietary systems like Sun Solaris or Microsoft Windows. In fact, it appears to have been his self-acknowledged baiting of Redmond that eventually did him in. Perens was canned by HP, which finds itself post-merger as the single biggest buyer of Windows for PCs and servers and thus, as the New York Times’ Steve Lohr put its, more dependent on Microsoft than ever. But don’t expect Perens to go quietly into that dark night. “I’m sorry that I had to leave HP, but I’m not going to shut up about my views,” he said. “I’m not just going to sit back and be a quiet engineer. I have a two-year-old son and I don’t want him to grow up in a world that is less free.”
Intel this week launches the Itanium 2 server processor. The company is betting big that it can convince companies which build servers to use the new chip as ubiquitously as PC makers now employ its lower-end CPUs. But the Wall Street Journal (subscription required) reports Intel has its work cut out. By Intel’s own admission, most corporate clients are already plenty happy with the oomph their existing 32-bit processors provide. And for folks that need supercomputer-level power, clustering many weaker, but far cheaper chips may provide an appealing cost-benefit ratio. Yes, there is that segment — which in revenue terms is substantial — willing to pay a premium for 64-bit processors. But in that arena Intel will compete with entrenched products from IBM, Hewlett-Packard and Sun. Finally, if and when all those dragons are slain, pokey old Advanced Micro Devices is coming round the bend with a new line of “Hammer” chips that feature both 32- and 64-bit capability. Five years from now it’ll be a kick to read a “The Soul of a New Machine“-style chronicle of how Intel handles the coming slugfest.