In a major shot across the bow of OS market leader Microsoft, Novell announced yesterday that it will purchase Linux distribution maker SUSE LINUX for $210 million. Novell, which already owns Linux desktop environment maker Ximian, is now a major player in the Linux market and the second old-school software maker, alongside IBM, to adopt the open-source software (OSS) solution. Not coincidentally, IBM also announced that it's making a $50 million investment in Novell, further emphasizing how important non-Windows systems are to these longtime Microsoft competitors.
   "Responding to customer demands for open, standards-based computing, Novell has been dedicated to a cross-platform vision for 4 years now, and Linux is an increasingly important part of that strategy," Jack Messman, Novell's chairman and CEO, said. "The acquisition of SUSE Linux will complete Novell's ability to offer enterprise-class Linux solutions to our customers from the desktop to the server. No other enterprise Linux vendor has the operating system experience and the worldwide technical support capabilities that Novell will be able to deliver. Novell is bringing our significant resources to bear to help customers adopt Linux with more confidence, giving them the freedom of choice Linux provides without the anxiety over whether an open-source solution can truly be relied on for mission-critical functions."
   Novell briefly rode the success of its network OS (NOS) Novell Netware products to the top of the software market until Microsoft added native networking support to Windows. Novell then attempted to wrest the office-productivity market from Microsoft, but the plan backfired when Novell had to sell off the expensively purchased WordPerfect unit to Corel. Today, the struggling company is working to recast itself as an open-source juggernaut and return to the profitability that has eluded it for more than 3 years. SUSE LINUX is the second-largest Linux distribution in the world, after Red Hat Linux, although Red Hat Linux recently announced its intention to exit the desktop Linux market.