Novell's Open Source Platform Supports Red Hat, CentOS

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Justin Steinman, Novell's director of marketing for Linux and open platforms, said the expansion was requested by open source developers that provide packages for multiple distributions from the same source code. "They told us in late summer we needed to expand the openSUSE build service to Red Hat and CentOS," he said. "So we worked through the fall on that."

He compares packages to Lego bricks, and says openSUSE allows those bricks to work in any number of distributions. "Developers said, 'We are one Linux community and I want to get as many different people as possible attracted to my package,'" Steinman explained. "That's the beauty of open-source, at the community level we work together."

Steinman said the expansion of open source in general is good news for VARs who want to offer their customers a low-cost option that presents opportunities for rapid innovation. "We think it's very important for the channel," he said. "If you're looking to provide customer effective innovations, open source software gives you the opportunity to offer cutting-edge tech at a reasonable price."

In particular, Steinman said there are great opportunities for VARs to move customers from Unix to Linux. "We think we're going to see an acceleration of Unix to Linux in 2008," he said. "And we see a lot of opportunities for resellers to help their customers help move to Linux."

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Alani Kuye, CEO of president of Norwalk, Conn.-based solution provider Phantom Data Systems, says the expansion is a positive indicator for open source developers, if long overdue. "What we are seeing is a long overdue effort to 'standardize' in the open source space," he says. "However, due to the various Linux distributions, cross functionality has always been an issue. Open source is enjoying tremendous adoption and growth."

By standardizing across various Linux distributions, he says, vendors and solution providers will have a clearer understanding of the capabilities of open source systems and how they can solve their clients' business problems. "Moving customers to open source should be easy for VARs that can demonstrate standardization," Kuye says. "Customers know alot more about open source than most VARs and vendors realize."