Novell has begun shipping a desktop version of its open source Linux operating system aimed squarely at enterprise users.
Linux Desktop 9 is built on the same code base as SuSE Linux Enterprise Server 9, a product used by a growing number of enterprises to run their back-office computers.
The product, which will be available through channel partners, will cost $50 (£27) per system, which includes upgrades and updates for one year.
To lure companies to the new offering, Novell has bundled several products, including its own version of OpenOffice, an open-source based office application that is compatible with Microsoft's Office files.
The bundle also includes Mozilla Foundation's Firefox browser, Novell's Evolution collaboration software, which incorporates e-mail, a calendar, a contact database and task lists into one application, and the company's ZENworks Linux Management product, which allows administrators to easily deploy, configure and manage Linux desktops from a central location.
Novell has lined up microprocessor makers Advanced Micro Devices, IBM and Intel to support the new desktop product.
The product is not about a wholesale replacement of Windows-based systems but rather about identifying where and when an open-source desktop product can be a sensible, cost-effective alternative, Novell said.
Linux Desktop beta users have included call centre operators and service counter personnel, according to Novell. The company said users of traditionally high-cost Unix-based technical workstations have also shown substantial interest.
Novell has been intensively promoting Linux as an alternative to Windows ever since the company acquired Germany's SuSE Linux last November.
John Blau writes for IDG News Service