Dell will install Novell Suse Linux operating system on Dell PowerEdge servers as part of a worldwide agreement. The news was announced at the Linux World conference in Frankfurt.

Novell's Suse Linux Enterprise Server 9 will be available on PowerEdge 1850, 2800 and 2850 servers for an annual subscription per single CPU (central processing unit) server for €150 (US$192) or £110 (US$202), while the price for a dual-CPU annual subscription will be €230, or £160, said Judy Chavis, director of marketing for global alliances at Dell.

The Novell agreement gives Dell Linux customers more platform choices, with Dell's full customer support. "We are offering a single point of service," said Mathias Schadel, vice president and general manager of Dell Germany.

"From Novell's point of view, this agreement with Dell is pretty important because of the level of volume that Dell commands," said IDC analyst Chris Ingle. Novell already has agreements with IBM. and Hewlett-Packard to support the Suse Linux operating system on their servers and PCs, respectively.

For its part, Dell already pre-installed market-leader Red Hat Linux from Red Hat. Though the Round Rock, Texas-based computer maker offered SuSE Linux, it only did so as a customised system option for which customers paid extra.

Dell and Novell began working together last year and the two companies announced a bundling deal at the LinuxWorld Conference & Expo in San Francisco in July.

"It's pragmatic for Dell because Novell has a strong existing customer base and they are now basically offering customers a choice of the two distributions," said Neil Macehiter, a research director at UK analyst company Ovum. "If someone has standardised on Suse Linux that was a potential barrier to a sale for Dell, though admittedly a small one, but a barrier still, particularly given that IBM distributes Suse."

Novell gained the SUSE Linux kernel with its January acquisition of Germany-based SuSE Linux AG, which has enjoyed widespread support throughout Europe and in Germany in particular.

According to Macehiter, Dell may have been wary of working with Suse as an independent company based outside of the US, but Novell's acquisition of the company may have helped to resolve those concerns.

Dell spokeswoman Wendy Giever said that the company's customers have been talking to Dell more often about Linux in general and Suse Linux in particular over the past year. "I think customers in the U.S. have expressed a lot more interest in Novell SuSE Linux since the acquisition. (SuSE Linux) has now got the support of a billion-dollar company and we have a strong, deep relationship with Novell," Giever said.

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