Novell Says Its Talking to OEMs About Bundling Its Desktop

By Peter Galli  |  Posted 2006-03-21 Print this article Print

Al the annual BrainShare conference, Novell's COO says the company is talking to vendors such as Dell about getting Novell's upcoming SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop 10 preinstalled on hardware systems.

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, Novells 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.
Click here to read more about how Dell and Novell are combining their respective server management programs into a comprehensive, integrated package. Asked how big the beta program for the SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop 10 is, Nat Friedman, Novells 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. Read more here about Linux sales. "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 Novells objectives," he said. To read more about the OpenSUSE program, click here. 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 Novells strategy around governments and other customers who have trepidation about moving away from Microsoft and the Windows platform. Ziff Davis Media eSeminars invite: On March 30 at 4 p.m. ET join AMD and Red Hat as they introduce an alternative to Unix systems—open-source technology with 64-bit and multicore processors. "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. Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest open-source news, reviews and analysis.
Peter Galli has been a financial/technology reporter for 12 years at leading publications in South Africa, the UK and the US. He has been Investment Editor of South Africa's Business Day Newspaper, the sister publication of the Financial Times of London.

He was also Group Financial Communications Manager for First National Bank, the second largest banking group in South Africa before moving on to become Executive News Editor of Business Report, the largest daily financial newspaper in South Africa, owned by the global Independent Newspapers group.

He was responsible for a national reporting team of 20 based in four bureaus. He also edited and contributed to its weekly technology page, and launched a financial and technology radio service supplying daily news bulletins to the national broadcaster, the South African Broadcasting Corporation, which were then distributed to some 50 radio stations across the country.

He was then transferred to San Francisco as Business Report's U.S. Correspondent to cover Silicon Valley, trade and finance between the US, Europe and emerging markets like South Africa. After serving that role for more than two years, he joined eWeek as a Senior Editor, covering software platforms in August 2000.

He has comprehensively covered Microsoft and its Windows and .Net platforms, as well as the many legal challenges it has faced. He has also focused on Sun Microsystems and its Solaris operating environment, Java and Unix offerings. He covers developments in the open source community, particularly around the Linux kernel and the effects it will have on the enterprise.

He has written extensively about new products for the Linux and Unix platforms, the development of open standards and critically looked at the potential Linux has to offer an alternative operating system and platform to Windows, .Net and Unix-based solutions like Solaris.

His interviews with senior industry executives include Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, Linus Torvalds, the original developer of the Linux operating system, Sun CEO Scot McNealy, and Bill Zeitler, a senior vice president at IBM.

For numerous examples of his writing you can search under his name at the eWEEK Website at


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