LQ: First of all Jeff I would like to thank you for the machine. The migration was a success and the machine is going to be a huge help.
Jeff: That's great to hear.
LQ: Tell us a little about yourself.
Jeff: My family escaped Vietnam in 1980. Like all immigrants, we came to the United States seeking for the American dream. Here I went to college and received a bachelor degree in computer science. After college, I started to work for Fintronic USA. In 1995, I started Advanced System Lab which eventually became ASL Inc.
LQ: What got you interested in Linux?
Jeff: I got involved with Linux due to my working background as Unix software engineer for Fintronic USA during the early 90. Because Unix platforms were expensive due to their proprietary model, there was a need for an alternative solution. Beside the costly hardware, once has to pay for all the software such as development tools. Then came Linux and everything changed. Using off the shelf PC components together with Linux, a functional and affordable Unix platform was born. At that time, one of my job responsibilities was to port the Fintronic simulation software, FinSim, to all the Unix platforms including Linux. In 1993, FinSim became the very first major commercial application available for Linux. It was a major feat considering that Linux has yet to reach the popularity or acceptance in the commercial market at that time.
Soon the first very first Linux hardware vendor, Fintronic Linux System was created which eventually became VA Linux System. Even though I was not a part of that, it was clear to me that Linux is the future of Unix computing.
LQ: What distribution do you use?
Jeff: ASL supports Red Hat Linux, SuSe Linux, and Mandrakesoft Linux-Mandrake. I use Red Hat Linux because it has a cleanest interface of all the distributions.
LQ: Where do you see Linux going in the future (especially on the hardware side)?
Jeff: Linux will continue to penetrate and eventually take over the enterprise and workstation markets that once dominated by SUN and other UNIX vendors. In the coming years, Linux will become the premier choice for mainstream 64-bit computing. In addition, Linux deployment in the high performance computing (Beowulf clusters) will continue to growth.
LQ: What do you see as the biggest current Linux deficiency?
Jeff: Lack of a licensed/legal DVD playback
LQ: What made you decide to donate a machine to LinuxQuestions.org?
Jeff: The great asset in Linux is the freely available information and online support from the community. By donating equipments, it is one way for ASL to contribute to that effort.
LQ: Do you have any comments or suggestions for us?
Jeff: Just keep up the great work. A site such as LinuxQuestions.org provides valuable sources of Linux information for everyone, whether they are beginner or a veteran.
LQ: In a time when many companies are struggling what do you think has enabled ASL to remain successful?
Jeff: We did not burn investor money down the tube.
LQ: I see that ASL machines ship with a modified kernel (we also have an -lq series now). What modifications do you make and what else do you think sets ASL machines apart from the competition?
Jeff: ASL ship platforms that are highly optimized for performance and functionality made possible by its customized kernels. Over the years, our kernels have incorporated many important enhancements to improve NFS functionality, accelerate IDE/SCSI disk performance, enhance SMP operation, speed up virtual memory performance, improve security and update device drivers. In addition, ASL kernels supports important technology such as Intelligent Platform Managenent Management Interface (IPMI).
Because the technology changes rapidly, most Linux distributions and their kernels do not include the appropriate drivers to enable the latest and greatest components. Thus extensive engineering resources are emphasized on the development of ASL customized kernels to maximize platform functionality.
And a few questions from the mods:
LQ: Where did the name ASL come from?
Jeff: ASL is the abbreviation for Advanced System Lab which is the original name of the company.
LQ: Where does the ASL helpdesk go when they get a question they can't answer?
Jeff: Since we work mainly with hardware platform, most issues are hardware/driver related. Thus we normally communicate with the engineers from the manufacturer or the kernel developers.
LQ: (and are any of ASL employees members of LinuxQuestions.org)?
Jeff: I don't know if any of our employee is a member.
LQ: Do you see ASL having any future relationship/partnership/whatever with LinuxQuestions.org?
Jeff: I see a great opportunity for us to work together.