MSI and Novell will ship the first netbook based on the SUSE Moblin open source Linux operating system. The pair is showing the device at this week's CES event in Las Vegas.

MSI said its U135 netbook would come pre-loaded with SUSE Moblin. The release of the OS on the U135 is also the first supported release of a Moblin-based OS from Novell.

"The SUSE Moblin 2.1 image on the MSI hardware has been optimized for the chip set, the peripherals, and the bios on that machine to ensure it is fully enabled on that system," said Guy Lunardi, director of product management for Novell. Moblin is an open source Linux platform project, hosted by the Linux Foundation, that is optimised for low-power Intel Atom Processor-based mobile devices.

SUSE Moblin comes with a number of applications, including, Adobe AIR, Flash, and Acrobat Reader; Novell Mono and Moonlight; OpenOffice.org Novell Edition and integrations into social media applications including Twitter and Facebook.The Moblin desktop has integrated email, multimedia and web browsing capabilities via the Moblin toolbar.

Novell has injected Moblin with code from SUSE Linux to give the OS an established platform for software along with the mobile features of Moblin, such as fast startups and lightning quick system wake-up.

The MSI netbook enters a market that Microsoft also is trying to capitalize on with Windows 7 running on netbooks. And Google's Chrome OS will enter the fray later this year.

Lunardi said Novell is working with application vendors and game studios that are using Flash to create some interesting software for Moblin-based netbooks. Lunardi said the number of independent software vendors interested in Novell's Linux desktop is on the rise.

The U135 features a 1.66GHz Intel Atom N450 Pineview processor. The netbook has a 10.1-inch LED screen and a 1.3-megapixel Webcam. It ships with either a 160G or 250GB hard drive, up to 2GB of RAM, and support for Wi-Fi (b, g and n), Bluetooth and 3.5G WiMAX.

Canonical, which develops Ubuntu, is among a handful of vendors that also has a Moblin-based desktop operating system and plans to get the software preloaded on netbooks.