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While many Linux distributions arrive on the scene, fewer gain solid support from hardware vendors. That won’t be the case for Novell Inc.’s recently released Linux Desktop, as Hewlett-Packard Co. said it will certify the package for its lines of business computers.

Jeffrey Wade, HP’s worldwide Linux marketing manager, told “HP is now the first commercial vendor to achieve certification [for the Novell Linux Desktop]. This includes HP’s business PCs, workstations and laptops.”

However, the certification will not extend to HP’s Compaq systems, which are now considered a consumer line, he said.

HP will not sell systems pre-installed with the Novell Linux Desktop at this time, Wade said. Instead, business customers and resellers, however, will be able to get Novell Linux Desktop pre-installed on a particular model for volume sales through HP’s Factory Express service.

At the same time, HP will offer first line support for Novell Linux Desktop on its systems. Buyers who want indemnification for any potential Linux intellectual property legal problems will have to choose whether to go with HP or Novell’s Linux indemnification programs.

Microsoft recently got into the IP (intellectual property) indemnification coverage game. Check out eWEEK’s coverage of the issue.

Both companies were upbeat on the deal, due to be announced on Tuesday. “We see Linux growing to the Number 2 desktop in 2005 with Mac OS dropping to Number 3,” Wade said.

For HP, that will mean a considerable number of Linux systems. According to Wade, over the last year, HP’s Linux desktop shipments have grown from as many as 125,000 systems per quarter to between 225,000 to 250,000 units per quarter.

In 2003, most of those boxes went to the Asia-Pacific market, but now, 35 percent of HP’s Linux desktops are sold in the European market, while 15 percent go to U.S. customers.

In the past, HP shipped Linux desktops from Mandrakesoft SA and Turbolinux Inc. Those programs will be phased out, and the Novell product will become HP’s Linux desktop offering.

Read the back-story behind theNovell Linux Desktop and Novell’s continued support for SuSE Linux.

“We’re very excited to have this deal coming hot on the heels of the launch of our desktop,” said Ted Haeger, Novell’s director of product marketing for Novell Linux Desktop. “It gives businesses a chance to get a well-supported Linux desktop on HP’s top enterprise-level desktops.”

Wade praised the integration in Novell’s distribution. “You don’t have to pull together features to make your own desktop. Customers get a very full-featured Linux desktop on one system and it’s well positioned to be integrated into businesses.

Novell Linux Desktop is based on the Linux 2.6 kernel and offers users a choice of the KDE 3.3 and GNOME 2.6 desktop interfaces. It also comes with the Novell Edition of, which is compatible with Microsoft Corp.’s Office suite’s file formats.

In addition, Novell Linux Desktop ships with Mozilla Firefox as its default browser and Novell Evolution 2.0 for its e-mail and groupware client. It offers users a choice of the multiprotocol Gaim and Kopete for IM (instant messaging) clients.

Read a review of Novell’s multiplatform ZENworks 6.5.

For administrators, Novell Linux Desktop offers integration with Novell ZENworks Linux Management. ZENworks enables administrators to deploy, configure and manage Linux desktops from a central location.

At this time, HP has not announced pricing or availability of NLD.

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