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IBM pushes game as learning tool for Linux admins

Taking its cue from purveyors of educational games for children, IBM Corp. is making games for IT pros. More than 215,000 copies of IBM AlphaWorks' first game, Robocode, have been downloaded. In this code-writing tutorial, players build robots to compete in a game. AlphaWorks' second game release, CodeRally, gives Linux developers and administrators a fun way to master Java tools. Marc Goubert, manager of IBM's AlphaWorks program, is responsible for bringing to market new implementations of emerging technologies. "Linux is an emerging trend in technology, so we provide a lot of basic components for Linux users, developers and architects," he said. In fact, he said, more than 30,000 developers are currently building Linux-based applications for IBM software. In this interview, Goubert explains how developers and system administrators can learn from CodeRally and extend the functionality of their Linux systems.

Why is AlphaWorks developing games as learning tools?
We watched innovation be pioneered by gamers. Real-time gaming interfaces and engines, 3-D and other technologies were pushed ahead by game developers. A lot of developers play games. This is a good way for those games to deliver education as well as entertainment. Besides games, what tools does AlphaWorks provide for system administrators?

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Besides games, what tools does AlphaWorks provide for system administrators?
AlphaWorks provides direct access to new technology implementations that are coming from IBM. Implementations like the Emerging Technologies Toolkit [is] available for both Windows and Linux platforms. There are also specific Linux offerings, such as Cluster Systems Management technologies. Having early releases of these technologies would help administrators to manage clusters of Linux machines, for example.

Would CodeRally be helpful for IT administrators and managers, as well as developers?
The game provides an easy avenue into the Eclipse framework for managing servers and programs other than just the development environment for Java. The Eclipse management framework enables many different plug-ins, one of which would be a WebSphere administration engine. So, through the same interface used for developing a Java application or program, they can administer commands through a GUI interface to a WebSphere server. This is one of a collection of plug-ins in the WebSphere Studio that can be used on the Eclipse platform. Also, there are plug-ins for IBM DB2.

So CodeRally is one avenue for a Linux administrator to become more familiar with the tools that might benefit them. The CodeRally engine actually demonstrates well-thought out, structured, modular programming techniques. Linux administrators would benefit from having this tutorial. That make sense, as does building on Robocode's success.
Actually, people were skeptical when we first published Robocode on AlphaWorks. It generated tremendous interest. Now, university faculty members want to use Robocode in their classes. What's the goal of CodeRally?
CodeRally is a Java-based, real-time programming game based on the Eclipse platform. In the game, players program race cars to compete for points on a simulated racetrack. The game makes it easy for learning developers and system administrators to learn Java and learn about the Eclipse framework. It allows users unfamiliar with Java to easily compete while they learn the Java language.

The Eclipse platform is a framework or IDE [integrated development environment] built for Windows, Linux and other platforms. The framework helps developers build their applications and plug-ins.

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