Companies' support partnership creates product meant to be more than just an operating system.
Novell's SuSE Linux Enterprise Server 9 includes JBoss' application server, a software package that enables a computer to run Java programs, said Chris Stone, Novell's vice chairman, during a news conference here at the LinuxWorld Conference and Expo.
On the same day, Red Hat debuted an application server of its own, based on the Jonas Web server from the ObjectWeb Consortium.
The moves highlight efforts by Linux software companies to expand their product lines beyond just an operating system. It also means Novell and Red Hat will compete more with established application server sellers such as BEA Systems, IBM, Oracle and Sun Microsystems.
Novell will provide first-, second- and third-level support for the JBoss application server, Stone said--in other words, everything from standard technical support to necessary engineering changes. And in coming months, Novell will gradually move to JBoss as the core engine of its Extend software for setting up Internet portals and tying together customers' disparate applications.
SLES 9 is the first high-end Linux product to come from Novell since it bought SuSE Linux in January for $210 million. The software uses the new 2.6 version of the Linux kernel; its prime competitor, Red Hat Enterprise Linux, still uses 2.4 with some modifications from 2.6.
Like its predecessors, SLES 9 will support not just "x86" chips such as Intel's Xeon and Advanced Micro Devices' Opteron, but also IBM's Power processor, Intel's Itanium processor and IBM's mainframe servers. In addition, it will support Intel and AMD x86 chips with 64-bit extensions, including Intel's Nocona, which arrived in servers on Monday.
However, unlike its predecessors, support for all those systems arrived simultaneously. "SLES 9 now runs on all those platforms at the same time. In years past, we've had a staggered release," said Jim Stallings, the general manager for Linux at IBM.
Other new features of SLES 9 include Mono, a Java-like software foundation originally created by Microsoft; support for standardized network management software; support for the Class-based Kernel Resource Management (CKRM) package to allocate how much computing power different tasks get; and the User-mode Linux package to run test versions of Linux on separate partitions on a computer.
The partnership between Novell and JBoss isn't a total surprise: Novell had signed a support partnership with JBoss in June. But the companies had been mum on details, and it wasn't clear how JBoss would fit in with the existing application server had Novell bought through its $212 million acquisition of SilverStream in 2002.
Now it's clear: The Extend products that came from SilverStream will be certified to work with JBoss by the end of the year, Novell said, and rebuilt so JBoss is the default application server in 2005.
Although JBoss will be bundled as a standard part of SLES 9, customers wanting support will need to pay extra for that component, Stone said. SLES 9 went on sale Tuesday with an annual maintenance price of $349 per year for a dual-processor server listed on the SuSE Web site.