Novell is launching a Certified Linux Engineer programme in which IT pros can demonstrate competence in using Linux in a business environment. The certificate, like the successful Certified NetWare Engineer (CNE) scheme, will be used for job applications and in-service training.

“There is a demand for this,” said Brian Green, Novell product marketing manager EMEA. “Customers thinking of buying Linux from Novell are concerned about the lack of skills. We’ve been running a series of Linux events round the world, and over fifty percent of delegates said they wanted Novell to contact them about Linux training.”

The five-day course will be run by partners from December and Novell is currently working to train tutors and develop course material. It will build on certified Linux training that exists (a certified Linux qualification will be a requirement of the course), adding a more hands-on session dealing with practical issues, said Green. The programme was developed with SUSE, Red Hat, he said, and will combine awareness of kernel issues with the services required in a business environment.

Other training from Novell will include a two-day “First Class” hands on session to introduce Linux, which will be available free to Novell partners and, for a fee, to end users. There is also a free CD of Linux resources for private study, which is also available on the Internet at Novell’s training site. “There is a huge take-up in Linux across organisations,” said Green. “It is the fastest growing operating system in the market. This will present a skills gap.”

Although Novell’s NetWare is moving to (or including as an option) a Linux kernel in version 7, the CLE and CNE courses cover very distinct areas, said Green. CNE covers services provided by NetWare and, with version 7, it will have to include a module on the new features provided by the Linux kernel. Meanwhile the CLE will cover all Linux products provided by Novell, including the Linux desktop.

Novell’s Linux roadmap is becoming clearer, as elements of Ximian begin to take centre stage. For example, a promise to deliver Linux management technologies will be met by the Ximian Red Carpet product, which will be part of Novell’s Enterprise Linux Services.

Similarly, Ximian's Outlook-like email client Evolution is centre stage in Novell’s Linux desktop and will have the ability to talk to Novell’s Groupwise, as well as to Microsoft’s Exchange and other email servers. “We are allowing customers to have a Linux desktop and collab on their desktop, irrespective of back end,” said Green.

Novell also inherits some large Linux customers from Ximian including the RSPCA, which uses Linux desktops.