HP, IBM Sign Up for SuSE Linux

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Novell has signed agreements with Hewlett-Packard and IBM to expand support for its SuSE Linux operating system on their PCs and servers.

HP Adopts SuSE

HP announced that it will begin certifying and supporting a desktop version of Novell's SuSE Linux software, called SuSE Linux Professional, by the second half of the year. HP already supports SuSE Linux on its server products; and in certain regions, it sells desktop systems with Linux from a variety of Linux vendors, including MandrakeSoft SA and Turbolinux. Under the terms of the new agreement, however, SuSE Linux will become HP's standard worldwide Linux distribution across its line of business desktop and notebook PCs.

The arrangement will make the Linux desktop more appealing for enterprise customers, some of whom have begun asking about Linux on the desktop, says Martin Fink, HP's vice president for Linux.

Fink declines to say whether HP's Linux desktop offerings will cost less than its Windows products, because pricing will ultimately depend on precisely how HP supports the SuSE Linux.

"There are a variety of different ways we can deliver this," Fink says.

Service for the desktop could be provided either by Novell or by HP, for example, and the Linux desktop could even be available as one of HP's managed desktop services, Fink says.

IBM's Interest Expands

IBM can now preload SuSE Linux Enterprise Server across its full range of servers, including EServer ISeries, PSeries, XSeries and ZSeries, and its EServer BladeCenter systems, Novell said on Wednesday. Novell will continue its development and support of SuSE Linux on IBM's servers, it said.

Previously, IBM was permitted to provide SuSE Linux on a CD along with its servers, but it could not preload the operating system, IBM spokesman Mike Darcy says.

IBM works with both Red Hat's Linux and Novell's SuSE Linux, says Scott Handy, IBM's vice president of Linux strategy and market development. If a customer decides to use Linux, IBM will provide them with a free operating system from Red Hat or Novell's SuSE Linux, depending on what the customer wants.

"We are distribution-agnostic, and we leave it to the customer to decide. They choose one or other for a variety of reasons," Handy says.

A customer using an IBM server that runs SuSE Linux can license the software through IBM, through a reseller, or directly from Novell, Handy says.

Partnerships Cinched

Novell bought SuSE Linux AG of Nuremburg, Germany, in November 2003 for $210 million in cash.

At the same time Novell announced its acquisition of SuSE, it announced that IBM planned to make a $50 million investment in Novell convertible preferred stock. The two companies have finally signed a definitive agreement on this, Novell says.

Wednesday's decision should reassure IBM's customers that there will be strong, continued support across IBM's product range, company representatives say.

Robert McMillan contributed to this report.

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