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Novell Says It's Talking to OEMs About Bundling Its Desktop

Posted by inet - 2006-03-24

SALT LAKE CITY—Novell is talking to a number of OEMs about getting its upcoming SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop 10 preinstalled on the hardware systems they ship.
But while Ron Hovsepian, Novell's president and chief operating officer, said the company had nothing to announce in this regard at its annual BrainShare conference here, Novell is talking to a number of key vendors like Dell in this regard.

"I know there is an opportunity here and we are working on the how and the when," he said in a media and analyst question and answer session.

Asked how big the beta program for the SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop 10 is, Nat Friedman, Novell's vice president of Linux desktop engineering, said there are two branches to this: On the one side, there are 120 companies beta-testing the software, while on the other, a "family and friends" program, has 100 or so testers.

Greg Mancusi-Ungaro, a director of Linux and open source at Novell, told eWEEK in an interview that a widespread public beta is expected around May.

Asked how Novell management plans to improve shareholder value and its financial fortunes, chief financial officer Joseph Tibbetts said that Novell has made a lot of progress around introducing new Linux products, but added that it wants to do better on the Linux revenue side.

"We had a late start relative to the competition [Red Hat], but we have positioned ourselves really well for when the enterprise starts embracing Linux and open source at the data center level," he said.

CTO Jeff Jaffee added that Novell is positioning itself well with its upcoming SUSE Linux Enterprise 10 desktop and server products, but stressed that open source is not just about Linux, but is also the most disruptive technology today.

"When thinking about open source, we have to think beyond just Linux," he said.

Asked what was happening with the OpenSUSE program, Jaffee said Novell is happy with the progress of this, with more than a million people having downloaded the code.

"The program is very much meeting Novell's objectives," he said.

Hovsepian added that the open pipe for feeding community items into the development process was fundamentally different with OpenSUSE to the way this was done in the Fedora project.

Novell was No. 2 in terms of the community around OpenSUSE, after Ubuntu Linux, and the build process was being opened up so people could build against the tool chain and be directly compatible with not only the OpenSUSE distribution but also other distributions.

CEO and chairman Jack Messman said the company has been in discussions with governments around the world regarding Novell's strategy around governments and other customers who have trepidation about moving away from Microsoft and the Windows platform.

"We have also been holding discussions with the government of China for the past 18 months, and Novell is the number one Linux provider there," he said, adding that within the United States, state and local governments are also looking to make computing ubiquitous and Linux is the way for them to achieve this.

Jaffe said that the corporate IT mantra is all about avoiding vendor lock-in, and this is even more prevalent among governments worldwide.

"The capabilities of the open desktop has not been there until now, but with SLED 10 we have an offering that is good enough for the general office worker, and we believe there should be a drum-roll of support for this going forward. It has all the elements they have been calling for," he said.

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