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Novell SUSE Linux to support Windows, Red Hat with Xen

Jack Loftus, News Writer
Novell today announced that its flagship operating system, SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 10, would be on the receiving end of a spate of virtual machine drivers "sometime in July."

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Novell Inc.'s Holger Dyroff, vice president of SUSE Linux Enterprise product management, said that with the release of the SUSE Linux Enterprise Virtual Machine Driver Pack, his company will become the first vendor to offer support for Windows and Red Hat guests running on Xen. In July, Novell will ship drivers for Windows XP, Windows 2000 and Windows 2003.

The virtualization consists of a bundle of paravirtualized network, bus and block device drivers that enable unmodified Windows and Linux guest operating systems to run as virtual machines on top of the Xen hypervisor.

Drivers for Red Hat Enterprise Linux 4 and 5 will be released later this summer and will be added to the driver pack at no additional charge via a maintenance update. A one-year subscription to the Virtual Machine Driver Pack will cost $299 per physical server for up to four virtual machines or $699 per physical server for unlimited virtual machines. Xen drivers for SUSE Linux Enterprise Server have been available since mid-2006 and ship as a standard component of the distribution.

Gordon Haff, senior analyst with Nashua, N.H.-based Illuminata Inc., said the announcement offered no real surprises given that Novell had previously briefed the press and analysts on the news earlier this year. That said, the news is the first real result of Novell's interoperability work with Microsoft and the Windows operating system.

In November, Microsoft and Novell entered into a controversial partnership where Microsoft would offer sales support for SUSE Linux Enterprise Server, and both companies would work to simplify running the Windows operating system and SUSE Linux in mixed operating system environments. One of those projects, according to Novell senior Linux applications specialist Ross Brunson, was the creation of a "translation layer" that would allow interoperability between various hypervisor technologies.

"One interesting aspect is that Novell is using these [virtualization] capabilities to charge some extra money. SUSE Linux has tended to have more of a flat pricing structure than Red Hat in the past," Haff said. "But this makes sense; the alternative is a product like VMware that certainly doesn't come for free."


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