IBM is to allow Linux applications to run on IBM's Unix servers within virtualised environments.

The "Lx86" capability, to be included in IBM's PowerVM virtualisation software, lets x86-based Linux applications run on IBM's System p- and Power-based Unix systems without modification. The systems will automatically detect and run Linux-based binaries designed for the x86 said IBM.

"Lx86 is a way to say 'Whatever you have, it can run," said Scott Handy, vice president of marketing and strategy for IBM Power Systems.

The capability will simplify the consolidation of Unix and Linux server sprawls, Handy said. Running Linux applications over Unix could reduce the cost of server consolidation and energy consumption and increase asset utilisation, he said.

Lx86 will be a useful tool for people looking to migrate from Linux systems to other IBM systems, IBM said. The company offers both Unix and Linux operating systems on its servers.

The capability will be included in all editions of IBM's PowerVM platform, which it also renamed from the Advanced Power Virtualisation platform.

The software now includes an Express edition targeted at small- and medium-size businesses. It allows customers to create up to three partitions on a server and control the use of processor cycles to get optimal performance. The Express edition will be shipped to customers soon, priced at $40 (£21) per core. PowerVM is also available in Standard and Enterprise editions.

IBM also announced that it will update its i5/OS operating system with support for Power6 processors. The update, called V6R1, includes improved performance, storage and security features, according to IBM.

The update supports IBM's Power6 EnergyScale technology for controlling energy use. The company also updated its Rational software tool set for the i5/OS, Handy said.

The i5/OS V6R1, for IBM's System i servers, will ship in March. It will also work with the company's new BladeCenter H server chassis, Handy said.