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Novell and Red Hat Welcome, Yet Downplay, Dell's Ubuntu Move (Updated)

Representatives from both Red Hat and Novell each lauded Dell's decision to meet customer demand for preinstalled GNU⁄Linux, but both companies seemed somewhat eager to explain why their particular distributions were not chosen.

Novell's Justin Steinman went so far as to say that Ubuntu lacked "enterprise quality" support options, making it suitable for the "technical enthusiast" community. Steinman, in his best Larry Ellison impersonation, also indicated that Novell is in "serious conversations with several leading hardware OEMs" about preloading SLED for "broad enterprise use".

"As proponents of open source and Linux, we're happy to see Linux being preloaded onto consumer desktops."

But Steinman then downplayed its significance. "I wouldn't necessarily refer to the Dell-Ubuntu deal as 'major.' Dell is only going to load Ubuntu on three machines targeted at the technical consumer market, and the only support option available will be through online technical self-help forums, which will be monitored by the community," he said.

However, Jane Silber, Canonical's director of operations in London, told eWEEK that the company will provide commercial Ubuntu support for customers who choose to buy this through the Dell Web site when available.

But, for Novell, Dell's announcement is nothing more than the loading of Linux onto desktops aimed at the technical enthusiast community—the same community of people who voted on Dell's IdeaStorm Web site. These are not Novell's target customers for the Linux desktop, Steinman said.

"Our target customer is the enterprise business user, and so we've focused SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop squarely at the business market," Steinman said.

"We believe the Linux desktop is ready for mainstream deployment in the enterprise, and that means you need to have enterprise quality support—something that Ubuntu does not offer."

Novell, Steinman then claimed, was in "serious conversations with several leading hardware OEMs" about preloading a Linux desktop that will be targeted at broad enterprise use.

"When we release SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop on a preloaded machine, it will come with the enterprise support that our customers require to run their businesses. Stay tuned for more details," he said.


Oh, we'll stay tuned Justin - details are what we've been waiting for, with bated breath, since November 2nd 2006.

Update (Roy): Novell's PR blog offers a significantly more tactful statement on the matter. There is no implicit ridicule of the rival.

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