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HP expands SuSE Linux deal

The computer giant plans to load the SuSE Linux Enterprise Server 8 software on its ProLiant and Itanium systems, as Linux-based servers continue to catch on.

Hewlett-Packard is expanding its Linux server software menu with additional wares from SuSE Linux.

SuSE said on Thursday that the computer giant would begin offering the SuSE Linux Enterprise Server 8 on HP servers running Intel processors.

Customers could already buy SuSE's Linux on HP servers; they will now be able to buy them with the latest version--SuSE Linux Enterprise Server 8, released in November--preinstalled. The deal applies to HP's ProLiant line, which chiefly uses Intel's Xeon chips, and to its servers based on Itanium chips. In addition, HP will provide technical support to customers purchasing a server with the software preloaded, SuSE said in a statement.

The move strengthens the relationships between HP and the German software maker, whose United States headquarters is in Oakland, Calif. But it also reflects a general rise in stature for Linux-based servers, sales of which continue to increase in step with the adoption of the Linux operating system among businesses, educational institutions and governments.

The deal, like HP's pact with SuSE rival Red Hat in March, updates the companies' ties after HP's merger with Compaq. Previously, SuSE had only a "general cooperation" agreement with Compaq, and the Linux seller's software would only be installed by special agreement, SuSE spokesman Joe Eckert said. In addition, there was no joint marketing activity.

HP will take care of customer support calls, though SuSE technicians will manage the most severe, "level 3," issues, Eckert added.

HP offers a broad range of choices when it comes to Linux, in addition to the software offered through its Red Hat relationship. HP had also certified that its servers worked with the UnitedLinux consortium's version of Linux--based on SuSE's software and also used by Turbolinux in Japan and in Brazil.

Working closely with HP is a big deal for SuSE and any of its Linux software cohorts. But offering Linux has benefited server manufacturers as well. Though still small compared to overall server revenue, Linux server revenue has grown steadily. In the first quarter of this year, for instance, it rose 35 percent to $583 million, according to IDC.