Practical Technology

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Novell vs. Red Hat: Linux vs. Linux

If you think about where Linux is fighting for market and mind-share, chances are you’re thinking about Linux slugging it out with Microsoft Windows or Sun Solaris on the server, or trying to tear desktop customers away from Windows, and to a far lesser extent, from Mac OS X. That’s all true, but there’s also fierce competition between Linux distributions.

Some of that conflict is inside baseball stuff. Some Debian developers, for example, are jealous of Ubuntu’s popularity and some developers feel that Ubuntu hasn’t done enough for Linux. Unless you’re a Linux insider this kind of stuff isn’t going to matter to you.

What is going to matter to everyone who buys and deploys operating systems is that Novell is heating up its competition with the number one Linux distributor: Red Hat. On November 11th, Novell announced a new subscription and support program “designed to aid customers making the transition from their existing third-party Linux distribution to SLES (SUSE Linux Enterprise Server).” What makes this interesting is that the three-year SLES subscription under this plan also includes two years of technical support for a customer’s existing Linux deployments while they make the SLES transition.

That’s new. I can’t recall ever seeing a vendor offering to support the competition’s offering while helping you to transition to their product. It does make sense. This is Linux after all. There are a lot of differences between how Novell handles management with its ZENworks and Red Hat does the same jobs with its Red Hat Network, but underneath the top-level management tools a good Linux administrator won’t have any trouble running either SLES or RHEL (Red Hat Enterprise Linux).

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