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Dell Joins Microsoft, Novell Alliance

Microsoft and Novell said Monday that Dell has become the first major system vendor to join their controversial technology alliance, agreeing to work with Microsoft to distribute SUSE Linux Enterprise Server.

Dell has also agreed to provide services and marketing programs to migrate new server customers to Novell's distribution of Linux.

Microsoft and Novell entered into an agreement last year on marketing, licensing and sharing of some intellectual property and to build interoperable solutions together.

"Since the announcement, more than 40,000 new certificates for three-year priority support subscriptions to SUSE Linux Enterprise Server have been activated under the Microsoft and Novell collaboration agreement. AIG Technologies Inc., Deutsche Bank AG, Credit Suisse, HSBC and Wal-Mart Stores Inc. are among the first companies taking advantage of the benefits of the interoperability agreement between Microsoft and Novell," the software companies said in Monday's announcement.

Dell's addition to the alliance comes less than a week after the Round Rock, Texas-based PC maker said it would pre-load Ubuntu Linux on some desktops and begin offering them over the next several weeks. Its entry into the Microsoft-Novell arrangement makes it the first major system vendor to agree to provide server-side cooperation in the deal.

"Under the agreement, Dell will establish a customer marketing team for migrating Linux users who are not Dell Linux customers to SUSE Linux Enterprise Server. The marketing effort will focus on three areas: Interoperability Workshops, Migration Proof of Concepts and Migration Services," Microsoft and Novell said in an early Monday announcement.

Last week, after Dell said it would offer Ubuntu-based solutions on the desktop, a top Novell executive said the company continued to talk to the PC maker about their own relationship. Dell and Novell have collaborated on server technology for several years.

While many in the Linux community -- including Linux distributors not chosen by Dell -- praised the computer maker's decision to offer desktop systems pre-loaded with Linux, its decision to join with Microsoft and Novell may not be so warmly embraced. Many leaders in the Linux community have denounced the Novell-Microsoft deal as undermining the intentions of the Linux general public license and have called for changes in future versions of the GPL.

The disagreement has become particularly ugly between Novell and its rival Red Hat, where rhetoric has become heated in recent weeks.

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