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Is that a Mac in a penguin suit?

Capitalizing on the newfound popularity of Apple within the open-source community, a Mac dealer decides to sell hardware with Mac OS X and Linux, too.

Aiming to capitalize on growing support for Macs within the open-source community, a Mac dealer has started selling Apple Computer systems loaded with both the Linux operating system and Mac OS X.

For the past few weeks, Moline, Ill.-based QliTech Linux Computers has been selling PowerBooks, iBooks and Power Macs containing both Mac OS X and one of several flavors of Linux, designed to run on PowerPC chips used by Macs.

QliTech is capitalizing on newfound celebrity status that the Mac is enjoying within some circles of the open-source community. The trend has been growing since Apple moved to Mac OS X more than a year ago. The new operating system has an open-source core and a Unix base that shares more in common with Linux than did prior Mac operating systems.

"It's just kind of one of those things that has been brewing," said QliTech President Ray Sanders.

Macs, particularly Apple's Titanium PowerBook G4, have become commonplace at Linux events, such as the recent LinuxWorld Conference and Expo in San Francisco.

Sanders didn't say exactly how many Macs he has sold, but indicated that the experiment was going well.

"I know the products are moving well enough to make it worth our time," Sanders said.

The company is offering Macs, with standard Apple warranties, pre-loaded with Linux software from SuSE, Mandrake, Debian or Gentoo, with Mac OS X installed on a separate partition. The machines are sold at Apple's typical retail prices.

Apple also authorized another Linux reseller.TerraSoft Solutions, last month. Like QliTech, TerraSoft sells Macs with both Mac OS X and Linux, though TerraSoft uses its own Yellow Dog Linux distribution.

Sanders said Apple must be aware of what the company is doing, since the Mac maker approved the company as a dealer knowing it sold only Linux-based computers. An Apple representative was not immediately available for comment.

Because of limitations from Apple, QliTech says it does not sell the hardware online. Those interested are encouraged to call or drop by the store. However, TerraSoft said it does offer online sales both in the United States and internationally.