Novell's purchase of open source email and calendaring system Ximian initially took Igor Portugal, technical head at New Zealand Linux provider Asterisk, by surprise.
He first heard about the buyout in the news, not from Novell or Ximian, and says it was "an interesting surprise".
"We received it with a bit of caution, but after a few discussions with Novell locally, we're comfortable with it."
Asterisk distributes Ximian Evolution. The product, which provides email, calendaring, scheduling, contact management and task list functions, is key to the expansion of Linux on the desktop, Portugal says.
"All our desktop deployments use it -- it's the closest thing to Microsoft Outlook there is."
Novell's purchase of Ximian extends to all Ximian products, not just Evolution, and includes Red Carpet, which updates Linux distributions. The buyout also gives it control of Mono, a Ximian project which provides open source development tools for building .Net applications that can run on Linux.
Novell has been moving towards Linux for some time, having already signalled that NetWare 7.0, a future version of its flagship network operating system product, will feature full Linux support.
The buyout comes as speculation had been mounting that the move to Linux was almost at the expense of NetWare. Media reports suggest a close-fought internal battle has been fought over whether to keep developing NetWare, version 6.5 of which has just been released, while migrating its services to Linux, or take steps to discontinue the NetWare line.
However, at the recent LinuxWorld conference, Novell chief executive Jack Messman poured cold water on suggestions NetWare would be discontinued.
"NetWare is not going away, period ... we're adding Linux." He says the company will in the future make Novell's services available both on a NetWare kernel and a Linux kernel.
Many Novell products already run on Linux, including eDirectory, ZenWorks and iFolder.