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Novell Inc.’s acquisition of SuSE Linux AG had nothing to do with competing with Microsoft Corp. and everything to do with driving Linux deep into the enterprise, Novell and SuSE officials said at a media teleconference on Tuesday morning.

Chris Stone, vice chairman of Novell, of Provo, Utah, stressed that the deal had not been done to compete with Microsoft. “If that happens, it’s a nice benefit, but the objective here is to reduce impediments to Linux in the enterprise. This is not about competing with Microsoft, this is about addressing any impediments that might have been holding Linux back,” he said.

Also addressing the conference from Germany, Novell CEO and Chairman Jack Messman said Novell would be the only $1 billion company offering a Linux stack from the desktop to the server with worldwide technical support.

“This deal is also good for the open-source community as Novell will continue to actively contribute to and support the community. All the core Novell networking services that reside on NetWare will be provided on Linux going forward,” he said.

Novell recently acquired open-source developer Ximian Inc. and so the platform had been the missing piece. “We have now plugged that hole through the acquisition of SuSE, which was a good strategic fit for us,” he said.

Novell and SuSE could also soon become the No. 1 Linux company, replacing Red Hat. “Linux is the future of computing and Novell Linux will be a leader. Customers want choice and competitive pricing, and we can now deliver low-cost, high-performance Linux solutions. This merger is good for the open-source community, Novell and SuSE. Novell is also firmly committed to maintaining SuSE’s presence in Nurenberg,” Messman said.

SuSE CEO Richard Seibt said SuSE wanted its operating system to become the de facto Linux standard. Its customers wanted a global support and sales organization that they could call on as well as a local partner base and local training resources.

“Together with Novell we can drive the adoption of Linux much faster than we would have been able to do by ourselves,” he said.

There was also no decrease in demand from customers for its Linux products in spite of the legal uncertainties posed by The SCO Group’s legal actions, and SuSE expects this to increase following this deal, Seibt said.