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Dell invests in Linux firm VMware

The computer maker leads a $20 million investment in VMware, a company that makes software to let Linux and Windows run simultaneously on a single computer.

Dell Computer has led a $20 million investment in VMware, a company that makes software to let Linux and Windows run simultaneously on the same computer.

Other investors include Azure Capital Partners, Chase H&Q Capital Partners and Goldman Sachs Group, the company said.

VMware is popular in particular among developers who want to test both sides of a Web site. A programmer only needs one computer to house both the original server version of a Web site and the browser view a Web user would see. The software also can be used to simulate several servers interacting.

VMware will use the funding to expand its software so it's useful for building Internet infrastructure and e-commerce on servers, chief executive Diane Greene said in a statement.

Dell has invested in a number of emerging software companies. Its first, in March 1999, was in Red Hat, the leading seller of the Linux operating system. Dell Ventures plans $750 million in investments in the next year, chief executive Michael Dell has said.

Corporate investment programs are increasingly popular as a way for companies to tap into the energy and potential wealth of start-ups.

Dell also has invested in Fast Search and Transfer, a storage firm, and Internet chipmaker Scenix.

VMWare launched its first product in May 1999. It supports many hardware components such as disk drives or network cards, but Universal Serial Bus (USB) devices aren't supported yet.

The software supports Linux, the Intel version of Sun Microsystems' Solaris, Windows NT, Windows 2000, FreeBSD and Linux. However, the company has no plans to support BeOS.