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IBM and HP strikes deal with Novell on SuSE Linux

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

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. Novell will continue its development and support of SuSE Linux on IBM's servers, it said.

Previously, IBM was able to provide SuSE Linux on a CD along with its servers, but was not allowed to preload the operating system, said IBM spokesman Mike Darcy.

IBM works with both Red Hat's Linux and Novell's SuSE Linux, said Scott Handy, IBM's vice-president of Linux strategy and market development. If a customer decides to use Linux, IBM will provide them with the 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 said.

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

Hewlett-Packard is also working with Novell to provide support for customers using SuSE Linux-based PCs, extending a previous deal where HP backed the use of SuSE Linux on its servers.

Novell bought SuSE Linux in November 2003 for $210m in cash.

At the same time as Novell announced its acquisition of SuSE, it also announced that IBM planned to make a $50m investment in Novell convertible preferred stock.

IBM said that it has invested in a number of Linux distributors, including Red Hat, SuSE and Turbolinux to ensure customer choice. These agreements should reassure IBM's customers that there will be strong, continued support across IBM's product range, it added.

Gillian Law writes for IDG News Service


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