CEBIT - Xandros prepares move into Linux server market

Desktop Linux vendor Xandros provided a sneak preview of its forthcoming server OS at Cebit.

As server Linux vendor Novell eyed the enterprise desktop market at Cebit this week, Xandros, better known for its desktop Linux OS, plotted its move to enterprise servers.

Xandros, which to date has had its greatest success selling an easy-to-use Linux desktop to consumers and small and medium-size businesses (SMBs), offered a sneak preview of its Xandros Server product at Cebit. The product, currently in beta, will be launched first in the U.S. in May before hitting European markets, said Erich Forler, senior product development manager for Xandros, in Ontario.

While most of current Xandros desktop customers are consumers or SMBs, the forthcoming server product should allow the company to expand further into the enterprise, Forler said. In fact, he said it was demand from business customers currently using the Xandros Business desktop product that spurred the company to develop a server OS.

"Customers wanted the ease of dealing with one vendor for both their desktop and server Linux products," Forler said.

He added that if Xandros can entice companies to purchase Xandros Server, it might also help the company sell its desktop OS for broader enterprise deployments. Currently, enterprise deployments of desktop Linux have been extremely limited, Forler said.

Like Xandros' desktop Linux, its server product is geared for usability, he said. For example, for its management console, Xandros Server will include a windowed graphic user interface that is similar to the ones used in Windows 2000 and 2003 Server. This will provide a familiar environment for system administrators so it will be easier for them to install and manage Xandros Server, Forler said.

Xandros' server OS also is designed to easily integrate into network environments already running Windows or Unix, those running only Linux, or hybrid environments composed of Windows, Unix and Linux, he said.

Forler acknowledged that Xandros already bumps into competitor Novell when courting enterprise desktop customers, and expects the same will be true when it makes its push into the server market. Novell chose the Cebit trade show in Hanover, Germany, to launch its new Linux desktop OS, Suse Enterprise Linux Desktop 10. The company hopes the product will be a catalyst for a massive enterprise migration from Windows to Linux in the next several years.

Forler declined to comment specifically on Novell's new entry in the desktop Linux market, but said he welcomed the increased competition because it gives enterprise customers more choice for their desktop OS.

"The more Linux desktops in the market to replace Windows, the better," he said.

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