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Porting x86 Linux applications to IBM POWER
The definitive how-to guide

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If you have comments or would like to contribute to this guide, we welcome your feedback.   Learn how

Suggest new content or make a comment on the existing content by using one of these methods.

Note: If you’re a non-IBMer and you want to comment – please use the email option for now.

  1. Log an issue in GitHub.
    • Go here: https://github.ibm.com/linuxonpower/porting-guide
    • Note which page and section you are referring to in the issue title. For example, “Add dancing chipmunk graphic to the Get ready page:Why Linux section”
    • Include the page URL in the Comment section and add your comment. Use the markdown function if you have formatting suggestions or add a file if that is appropriate.
  2. Send an email to lhalkire@us.ibm.com. Include page name/section, URL, and as much detail about the comment as possible.

Why port to Linux on IBM Power?

IBM® POWER® is optimized for performance. The POWER architecture is designed to be a high-performing, highly reliable platform, which is capable of handling large quantities of data more efficiently. It also enables high speed off-load capabilities with technologies such as Coherent Accelerator Processor Interface (CAPI) and CPU to GPU interconnect with NVIDIA NVLink. Check out the IBM Power Systems performance proof-points and then consider this:

Processors
Flexible, fast execution of analytics algorithms

4X threads per core vs. x86
(up to 1536 threads per system)

Memory
Large, fast workspace maximizes business insight

4X memory bandwidth vs. x861
(up to 32 TB of memory)

Cache
Ensure continuous data load for fast responses

6X more cache vs x862
(>19 MB cache per core)

Linux is Linux. You’ll find that Linux on the POWER platform is much like Linux on any other platform, with full support from the major enterprise Linux distributions

Red Hat logo

Red Hat is a leading provider of open source solutions and IBM is one of the largest Linux contributors. Red Hat® Enterprise Linux® is a high-performing operating system that delivers outstanding value to IT environments. Learn more about RHEL on Power Systems

Register for a free 30-day evaluation license from here: http://access.redhat.com/products/red-hat-enterprise-linux/evaluation
*Note: You are required to register for a Red Hat account to participate in this program.

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Ubuntu logo

Canonical and the Ubuntu community work with IBM to ensure that Ubuntu Server and Ubuntu OpenStack work seamlessly with IBM Power Systems and IBM software applications. Ubuntu for POWER enables the OpenStack ecosystem for ease of entry into the scale-out and Cloud markets.

Download the Ubuntu Server from here: https://www.ubuntu.com/download/server
*Note: No license is required.

Learn more

SUSE logo

SUSE and IBM are helping all-sized organizations deploy and maintain mission-critical systems. SUSE provides reliable, interoperable Linux and cloud infrastructure solutions with increased agility, manageable complexity and reduced cost.

Download a free 60-day trial of SUSE Linux Enterprise Server for POWER from here: http://downloadlinux.com
*Note: you will need to create a SUSE account to use this service.

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In addition to the enterprise distributions, these community Linux distributions are also supported on the Power architecture:

Did you know…

  1. Linux distributions deliver release updates concurrently for both x86 and Power so Linux is Linux, no matter the architecture.
  2. Linux applications on the Power platform work like Linux applications on the x86 platform. The only difference is that they run with the Power instruction set; applications that benefit from additional processor threads, greater memory bandwidth, and larger caches should see increased performance.
  3. POWER uses the same byte order as x86 architectures so compiling tools and working on POWER is almost exactly like other setups. In fact, most open source packages will easily compile on the POWER platform since they will run on the major enterprise Linux distributions, such as, RHEL and Ubuntu, and compile using GCC.
  4. Managing, deploying and maintaining your application on POWER is the same as on all other Linux based systems because POWER uses the same management tools and services.
  5. Most standard packages are available directly from the major Linux distributions. In addition, there are thousands of community maintained ppc64le packages that run on Power. Find yours by using the Open Source POWER Availability Tool (OSPAT), which searches the following repositories and, if found, returns Linux distribution/version that maintains the package: RHEL, Ubuntu, SLES, Fedora, and CentOS.

Migrating Linux applications to the POWER platform is a straightforward endeavor with the potential for huge returns. So, what are you waiting for?