HP is recruiting Novell to help it get Linux running on corporate desktop and laptop computers. HP will offer business customers support and testing.
Linux has made good progress in the server and data market but has had a harder job of getting onto desktop machines. The backing of such a major vendor will be a big boost.
Microsoft, today facing a record fine from the EC, will be less pleased.
Martin Fink, vice president of Linux at HP, was quoted in the Times of India as saying: "Does Microsoft like the fact we do Linux stuff?. Absolutely not. But they understand we deliver Linux."
HP said the deal was an extension of a previous agreement to use Novell server software. HP said last week it wanted to offer a Linux-based PC in Asia.
IBM will offer servers preloaded with Novell's SUSE Linux Enterprise Server.
The agreement will see IBM ship or preload SUSE across all its server lines.
Jack Messman, chairman and CEO of Novell, said the deal marks a "critical step in making Linux mainstream in the corporate data center".
According to IBM, the preloads offer customers more choice and "lower costs, greater stability and increased security".
Novell also said yesterday it had finalised a $50m investment from IBM. This was agreed in November 2003. It sees IBM pick up Novell convertible shares which can be converted into 8 million shares of Novell common stock.
Red Hat yesterday announced that it had secured pre-load status for IBM POWER servers.
Sales of servers running Linux reached $743m in the fourth quarter of last year according to IDC. This was an increase of 49 per cent on the same period the year before. ®