Dell has begun selling Red Flag Software's Linux distribution on most models of its PowerEdge servers in China.
Red Flag was certified for the majority of Dell's server product line in November, which means customers who purchase Dell's Premier Enterprise Support Services will now be able to get Red Flag software support directly from Dell.
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Dell's entire lines of tower and SC Value servers, as well as three rack-mounted systems - the PowerEdge 1750, 2650, and 6650 - are covered by the certification.
Red Flag was founded in 1999 as a joint venture between Beijing Founder Electronics, the Institute of Software Academia Sinica Sino-Software System (Sinosoft) and Compaq China. In May it partnered with Oracle to develop a version of Red Flag Linux for data centres.
Four months later it signed a joint marketing agreement with Hewlett-Packard.
Industry research firm IDC ranks Red Flag Linux as the number two Linux distribution worldwide when measured by the number of units shipped. In 2002, the company sold more than one million units, a number bettered only by Red Hat, according to IDC analyst Al Gillen.
"Red Flag captured a little over 22% of the industry total," said Gillen. "That's actually a huge portion of the total for a company that had only been around for three years."
However, most of Red Flag's sales are on desktop systems, primarily via white box system suppliers in China, Gillen said. Having Dell as a server distributor could open up new markets for Red Flag.
"If you look at the server operating system market, Red Flag is pretty much at the bottom of the heap," he added.
Robert McMillan writes for IDG News Service