In a move to help retailers reduce the complexity of their systems and their costs, IBM plans to introduce by the second quarter of 2004 a new software platform for point-of-sale (POS) systems based on the open source Linux operating system.

The new platform will be built on SuSE Linux's Enterprise Server software optimized to support both IBM retail hardware and software applications, said the software vendor.

The deal with IBM is SuSE Linux's first in the retail sector, according to the German software vendor's Chief Technology Officer J├╝rgen Geck.

The optimised Linux platform will integrate with IBM's surePOS and eServer systems and the company's middleware, according to Geck. "It will replace an operating system derivative of IBM's OS/2 designed for these systems, although legacy systems will continued to be supported," he said. "This is really about consolidation in the IT retail space moving forward."

The platform will help retailers lower costs and reduce system complexity while increasing flexibility, according to Tom Peterson, general manager of IBM Retail Store Solutions.