SuSE, IBM in retail equipment alliance

The Linux seller teams up with IBM to bundle its software with Big Blue products geared for high-tech cash registers.

SuSE Linux, a seller of the open-source operating system, has begun a partnership with IBM to bundle its software with Big Blue products geared for high-tech cash registers.

The companies hope the deal will help Linux move into the so-called point-of-sale (POS) terminal market, where IBM already has a strong position, Big Blue and SuSE plan to announce Thursday. POS terminals handle tasks such as recording transactions, sending charge requests to credit card companies and banks, and issuing receipts.

The move is the latest example of the growth of Linux into "embedded" computing systems such as video recorders or radar systems that have chips and operating systems but aren't conventional computers.

Linux leader Red Hat has largely bypassed embedded Linux to focus on tuning the open-source operating system for servers and desktop computers. But others such as MontaVista Software, TimeSys and LynuxWorks are aggressively pursuing the market.

The combined product will include a version of SuSE's Linux tailored for POS terminals, IBM's SurePOS terminals, as well as back-end servers and software to which the terminals connect over a network.

The Linux software is simplified for the retail environment, with various versions to work on bare-bones systems or more sophisticated ones that can run Web browsers or programs written for Sun Microsystems' Java software environment, the companies said.

SuSE, based in Nuremburg, Germany, is the second-largest seller of Linux after Raleigh, N.C.-based Red Hat. Provo, Utah-based Novell announced in November an agreement to acquire SuSE for $210 million.

IBM, which has partnerships with SuSE and Red Hat, endorsed the SuSE acquisition. Big Blue will invest $50 million in Novell when the deal closes later in January.

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