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IBM Makes Push to Increase Linux Users

To make Linux more attractive to small businesses, IBM announced Tuesday it is preloading Novell's SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 10 onto IBM's Lotus Foundations -- a hardware and software server for businesses as small as five employees. Foundations features IBM's collaboration, productivity, security and networking software, as well as back-up and disaster-recovery capabilities.

Foundations requires little or no integration and can be remotely maintained by resellers at minimal cost via maintenance contracts. IBM estimates the Novell-equipped Foundations will run about 25% less than Microsoft's comparable Small Business Server.

IBM began selling Foundations earlier this year. Executives declined to make revenue predictions for any of its announcements.

"We don't know" if Foundations and the other initiatives will spur greater adoption of Linux, Bob Sutor, IBM vice president for open source, said in a press conference. "It's an area we're very excited about. But we can't tell how much open source" software will be used by small and medium-sized businesses in 10 years, he added.

Kuznetsova sees the bigger revenue opportunity among Tuesday's announcements coming from a new release of z/VM 5.4 -- virtualization software for Systems z mainframes running Linux -- allowing modifications to the systems while they are in use. "z/VM helps IBM increase sales of mainframes on Linux," says Kuznetsova. "This is a powerful revenue-driving tool for us."

IBM closed up $1.31, or 1%, to $128.87.

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