IBM to offer new point-of-sale OS from SUSE Linux

SUSE Linux AG and IBM Corp. are now offering SUSE's first-ever point-of-sale (POS) Linux operating system combined with IBM's retail services and support.

In a deal announced Thursday, the operating system, called IBM Retail Environment for SUSE Linux, will include an operating system based on SUSE Linux Enterprise Server, along with other software needed by retailers. The POS operating system is designed to be compatible with IBM's SurePOS cash register machines, eServers and middleware to allow retailers to create a scalable, secure operating environment across their entire business, according to IBM.

The POS offering will be available in the first half of this year. Pricing hasn't yet been disclosed.

"Point of sale is the moment of truth in retailing, so retailers want to make sure they have the reliability and stability for which IBM is known in retail POS," said Tom Peterson, general manager of IBM Retail Store Solutions. "At the same time, retailers clearly are seeing the benefits of open-source Linux. This new IBM offering is designed to allow retailers to continue receiving the stability and reliability of IBM POS, along with the benefits of Linux."

Juergen Geck, chief technology officer at SUSE, said the deal is another example of SUSE's willingness to customize its products to reach different market segments. "It's really about getting our standard product components to a point where they can capture all these scenarios," Geck said.

The special version of SUSE Linux includes the easy-installation and centralized management and deployment capabilities needed in retail businesses that rely on POS systems to run critical sales and inventory functions, he said.

Greg Thompson, an IBM spokesman, said Nuremberg, Germany-based SUSE's wide and established market share in Europe was a key strength in sealing the deal between the two companies, as IBM works to expand its 30-year POS presence around the world.