Novell Inks White-Box Makers For SLED 10


Waltham, Mass.-based Novell also is negotiating with more system builders and tier-one vendors to do the same, Steinman said.

Steinman identified one of the PC makers as U.K.-based Transtec but said announcements would be coming soon on the other system builders. At least 10 more white-box vendors, mostly overseas companies, are in talks with Novell, he added.

Novell also has begun a pilot with what it said are 50 "brand-name" customers, which have installed anywhere from 25 seats to 5,000 seats each, to capitalize on a window between now and the launch of Microsoft's Windows Vista operating system. The only customer name Novell would provide was Transtec.

"We still believe Novell SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop is the sizzle offering from Novell," Steinman said. "There is a lot of opportunity for us between now and when Vista launches. Our objective is to be an alternative solution to say, 'Hey, before you go into Vista, don't you owe it to yourself to at least look at this thing? Because we believe if you look at, it you're going to like it.' "

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Novell released SLED 10 during the summer but has yet to establish an arrangement with a tier-one PC maker to preload the software on desktops or notebooks. Novell and Lenovo are working together to support SLED 10 on select ThinkPads, but Lenovo doesn't have a ThinkPad SKU with the Linux operating system preloaded. Lenovo will load custom-ordered system images with SLED 10 on a customer-by-customer basis on some ThinkPads, after Novell burns the custom images and delivers them to the PC maker.

With the ThinkPads, Novell will support the operating system and Lenovo will support ThinkVantage technologies integrated with SLED 10.

Steinman said Novell is continuing negotiations with tier-one PC makers to provide an integrated offering with SLED 10. Novell, too, is continuing its efforts to fortify the channel for SLED 10, he added.

"We are embarking on a major education initiative with our channel, in not only how to use SLED 10 but also about the benefits it can provide their customers. We are also working with them to provide migration packages," Steinman said.

Desktop deployment of SLED 10 will require the migration of software and services, he said. "We are going to give [partners] the tools to allow them to migrate their customers. As a channel partner, you're not going to make a heck of a lot of money on a $50-per-SKU desktop operating system. But you are going to make a heck of a lot of money on migrating off those Windows desktops and onto a Linux desktop -- the services component of it."