Novell will soon detail plans to include server virtualisation technology into its SUSE Linux operating system, and Red Hat has vowed to do the same thing. A leading contender for both may be an open-source virtualisation technology called Xen.

Both Red Hat and Novell said they're also looking at a number of virtualisation technologies. Novell, for instance, is eyeing start-up Katana's promised software, which is expected to run on Linux machines. Beyond that, all Novell will say is that it plans to act quickly. "We want to be aggressive about it," said Ed Anderson, VP of marketing.

HP, Intel and AMD are already working with Xen. Intel and AMD are particularly interested in ensuring that Xen works well with their chip-partitioning technologies, which are due out next year.

Xen is available for download from the University of Cambridge's website, where the three-year-old open-source project is based. The creators of Xen plan to open a company called XenSource in the US within the next few weeks to support users of the technology.

Xen supports Linux but not Windows since it requires a modification to the operating system kernel. However, Intel's planned chip-partitioning technology and a similar offering due from AMD are expected to allow Windows to run in a virtualised environment without modifications.