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Novell to push out Linux networking

With one eye on the growing popularity of the open-source operating system, Novell pledges to deliver versions of its networking software for Linux-based systems.

Novell pledged Tuesday to deliver versions of its networking software on Linux later this year and announced distribution deals with leading hardware providers.

By the end of 2003, the Provo, Utah-based company plans to ship Novell Nterprise Linux Services, which is software that performs services such as printing and file sharing on Linux network servers. The company already sells networking software for servers that run Windows, Novell's NetWare and other operating systems.

Nterprise Linux Services is a bundle of some of Novell's networking software that's written to run on the Red Hat and SuSE distributions of Linux, according to the company.

As part of the Linux push, Novell has penned deals with Hewlett-Packard, IBM and Dell Computer to distribute Nterprise Linux Services on their respective hardware servers. HP will be first out of the gate with a test, or beta, version of the software bundled on its ProLiant servers in July. IBM and Dell will follow later in the year.

Nterprise Linux Services is a key component in the company's strategy to cash in on the growing popularity of the open-source software. The company is also looking to offset the shrinking base of companies that use its NetWare operating system. In addition, Novell, which once led the market for networking software, has lost its lead to Microsoft and other rivals.

"Providing network services on Linux is a natural extension of our proven crossplatform strategy and brings the value of secure, scalable and reliable Novell networking to the rapidly growing Linux server market," said Jack Messman, Novell chairman and CEO, in a statement.

With Nterprise Linux Services, a company can administer a network of Linux servers with Novell's tools. The software will be Linux editions of Novell's software for file-sharing, printing, messaging, management and directory services, according to Novell.

In about 18 months, Novell plans to release an update to its operating system, NetWare 7. At that time, the full set of networking services in NetWare 7 will also be offered on Linux, giving customers a choice between the two operating systems, according to the company. Novell is set to release an interim release of NetWare--version 6.5--later this summer.

Novell's Linux push comes as the company is embroiled in a dispute with SCO Group over which company owns certain Unix patents and copyrights. The dispute is central to high-profile legal actions filed by SCO against Linux providers and companies that use it--including a lawsuit against IBM--that have shaken up the push for corporate use of Linux.