Dell on Open Source Roll

A week after announcing a pre-load deal with Ubuntu, Dell buys into Microsoft-Novell Linux interoperability.
The Microsoft-Novell interoperability deal continues to win converts, the latest of which is none other than hardware giant Dell.

Dell will now be purchasing Novell SUSE Linux Enterprise Server certificates from Microsoft and will also work on a migration effort for non-Dell Linux customers. That deal does not mean that Dell will be soliciting its own Red Hat Linux user base or even its soon-to-be ramped up Ubuntu Linux user base.

"The program is focused on large customers who currently have unsupported Linux or are planning to deploy Linux and Windows in large datacenter environments," Rick Becker, vice president of solutions in the Dell product group, told "Dell has a very strong relationship with Red Hat, and this agreement is not targeting migrations from Red Hat Linux customers."

Becker declined to comment on any financial implication of the new deal. A Novell spokesperson was not immediately available for comment.

The deal with Novell and Microsoft is a continuation of the strong partnership that Dell has with both firms.

"It was a natural for Microsoft and Novell to want to work jointly with Dell to provide simplified, end-to-end solutions for large customers operating in mixed environments," Becker said. "Dell being the first major systems provider to join the Microsoft-Novell alliance adds another powerful proof point to the value of the joint collaboration between Microsoft and Novell and emphasizes the global implications of this agreement."

In November Microsoft and Novell signed an agreement over the interoperability between Novell SUSE Linux and Microsoft's Windows. The deal also includes an intellectual property assurance component that assures Novell's Linux users that Microsoft will not sue them for any alleged patents that Linux may infringe.

The deal also involves Microsoft essentially reselling Novell SUSE Linux subscriptions. Novell is receiving $240 million from Microsoft for roughly 70,000 SUSE Linux Enterprise Server (SLES) "certificates" that Microsoft may use itself, distribute or resell. The certificates provide the bearer with subscription support for Novell's SLES server Linux distribution.

To date Microsoft and Novell claim that over 40,000 certificates have been used. Among the big names that Microsoft and Novell have signed on to the deal are Wal-Mart, Deutsche Bank AG and Credit Suisse.

Though the Novell Microsoft deal has won it share of converts, it's also had more than its fair share of detractors, as well.

The upcoming GPL version 3 open source license includes clauses that will specifically prohibit similar indirect patent provision in the future.

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