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Sendmail inks Dell distribution deal

Dell Computer says it will build a special-purpose e-mail server using the Red Hat Linux operating system and software from Sendmail.

Dell Computer will build a special-purpose e-mail server using the Red Hat Linux operating system and software from Sendmail.

The deal is important for Sendmail, an Emeryville, Calif. company that hopes to commercialize on the success of the open-source Sendmail package available for free and in widespread use across the Internet.

Under the deal, Dell plans to sell versions of its two-processor PowerEdge 2450 server with the software beginning in the first quarter of the year, the companies said. The product falls into the "server appliance" product category, special-purpose machines set up to do a particular job easily.

The product will compete with general-purpose products from companies such as Compaq Computer or Sun Microsystems, as well as e-mail-specific machines from companies such as Mirapoint. Sendmail also signed a deal with IBM in November.

Sendmail will get part of the revenue from each sale, said Greg Olson, executive vice president of business development for Sendmail. In addition, Sendmail will provide technical support for e-mail problems customers have, he added.

Sendmail, along with companies such as Tripwire, Great Bridge, Covalent and Zend, are trying to generate revenue by converting the popularity of open-source software into a business model. Sendmail in July hired Dave Anderson from mainframe seller Amdahl to be its new chief executive.