Novell and SWsoft have announced a deal that will see SWsoft's Virtuozzo distributed with Novell's SuSE Linux Enterprise Server (SLES) 10, in the latest sign of the growing importance of operating system virtualisation.

The announcement came on the heels of the release of Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5, the centrepiece of which is integration with Xen virtualisation. SWsoft has also announced a download that will provide Virtuozzo support on RHEL 5.

The deal marks the first time SWsoft has been included in a major operating system distribution, something already achieved by Xen in RHEL 5, SLES 10, Solaris 10 and Debian Etch.

SWsoft said the two companies will offer Virtuozzo and SLES 10 as an integrated system, with support provided by SWsoft and backed up by Novell. The package will run on servers with x86, AMD64, Intel's EM64T and Itanium processors.

SWsoft's approach to virtualisation divides a single Linux operating system into more or less independent containers, a technique designed to offer better performance than lower-level technologies such as Xen and VMware. SLES 10 already includes an implementation of Xen.

Currently SWsoft is angling to have its technology included in the Linux kernel, something Xen, VMware and others are also trying to achieve. So far, however, a relatively new technology called KVM (Kernel-based Virtual Machine) is the furthest along this path, having been accepted for inclusion in the 2.6.20 kernel.