Novell buys Ximian

Novell made a move on Monday to become a more serious player in the Linux market acquiring the Boston-based Ximian, one of the major drivers behind the Gnome project to create a Linux-based desktop, and Mono, software that allows applications developed under Microsoft Corp.'s .Net to run on Linux and Unix.

Novell officials hope the acquisition will also beef up its ability to support Linux-based solutions as the company pursues its goal of adding a full-featured Linux desktop to its lineup of groupware and systems management products, thereby accelerating the acceptance of Linux among enterprise users.

"Customers still face two key business issues: how to provide cost-effective management and maintenance of Linux systems, and how to deploy and support low-cost Linux desktops within the organization. We think we can deliver leading solutions for both," said Jack Messman, chairman and CEO of Novell in a prepared statement. "Just as importantly Ximian brings us Linux expertise, and strengthen our ability to work with and leverage open source initiatives more constructively," he said.

One of the key to the deal is the Ximian Desktop 2 product, a complete Linux desktop environment that has an integrated suite of Linux desktop applications capable of supporting Windows file formats and networks. The company's Ximian Evolution software integrates e-mail, calendaring, contact management, and task lists that are all part of one package. The product is compatible with Microsoft's Exchange server and Sun Microsystems ONE, and sometime this year will support Novell's GroupWise product.

Ximian founders Miguel de Icaza and Nat Friedman helped found the Gnome and Mono projects, and they will continue to lead both initiatives at Novell, said De Icaza, CTO of Ximian and now chief technology officer for the Ximian Services business unit of Novell.

"It's a huge step forward for the open source community to gain strong support from a company like Novell. Initiatives like Gnome and Mono will only improve with Novell's resources behind them," De Icaza said in a prepared statement.

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