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HP, Novell Join Forces

Hewlett-Packard and Novell announced a partnership on Wednesday that will bring SuSE's open-source Linux operating system to select HP desktop and laptop systems in the second half of 2004.

Touting the new effort as the first play by a major technology vendor to offer Linux "from the desktop to the data center," Martin Fink, HP's vice president for Linux, said that the move comes at the urging of its largest corporate customers, who want to deploy a single operating system, a single distribution of Linux, from top to bottom.

"HP can now offer one consistent platform to an enterprise," he said, adding that the extension of support for Linux on desktops and laptops is simply adding to the relationship that Hewlett-Packard already has with SuSE on the server and storage side. "Customers will be able to deal with just one set of help desks, one set of training materials to deploy Linux from the desktop to the data center."

The bulk of demands by its largest customers--Fink characterized them as those in the Fortune 50--are in relatively specialized areas. "They're talking about call centers, help desks, and support centers," he said, "that run e-mail and a Web browser and a single application. They're looking for a client alternative [to Windows]. That's where the interest is right now in the large corporate customers."

HP will offer SuSE's Linux Professional on select Compaq desktop and laptop systems, Fink said, sometime in the second half of the year; but refused to get more specific than that. Even the method of delivering Linux is up in the air.

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