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Linux servers to host Office

New software from CodeWeavers will allow Linux servers to host Microsoft Office and other Windows productivity applications for hundreds of Linux or Unix users.

CodeWeavers announced Monday new software that will allow Linux servers to host Microsoft Office and other Windows productivity applications, which can then be accessed through a Web browser.

CodeWeavers, which sells Windows-emulation software for the Linux operating system, has launched a server version of its CrossOver Office that runs with Tarantella's Enterprise 3 server software. This combination allows administrators to set up a Linux server running applications such as Word and Outlook, which can be made accessible to large numbers of Linux or Unix users without any special client software.

Microsoft applications are not directly available on Linux because the operating system is a competitor to Windows. However, developers such as CodeWeavers have found ways of getting around this blockade in an effort to make desktop Linux installations more attractive to businesses.

Though other solutions exist for letting Linux clients run Microsoft Office from a server, CodeWeavers says its system is much cheaper than other offers. Microsoft sells a version of Windows, called Terminal Server, that can serve applications over a network, and Citrix's software offers similar features. These two systems require that the server run Windows, which, unlike Linux, incurs license fees for each client.

CodeWeavers' software is based on Wine, which creates a Windows compatibility layer on top of Linux and Unix operating systems. CodeWeavers has previously sold Windows-emulation software for Linux clients, but has not ventured into the server market until now.

The company worked for a time with Lindows, which makes a Linux desktop distribution that can run some Windows applications, and its software ships with Xandros and SuSE Linux distributions of desktop packages.

Tarantella's technology is similar to Citrix's software, but unlike Citrix, Tarantella doesn't require a specialized client running over a standard Java-enabled browser. CodeWeavers said the system was aimed at Linux and Solaris desktops, with support for Windows and Mac OS X to be announced shortly.

CodeWeavers and Tarantella are offering a demo version of CrossOver Office Server Edition for Tarantella Enterprise 3, and versions licensed for up to 500 customers are available from CodeWeavers.

ZDNet U.K.'s Matthew Broersma reported from London.