Four months after acquiring SuSE Linux AG, Novell Inc. continues to hammer out the details of its open source strategy. It announced plans Friday to make its GroupWise software available for the Linux operating system for the first time, and confirmed that it plans to release the source code for a popular SuSE tool for managing Linux servers to the open source community.

GroupWise 6.5 for Linux will be available March 30 for both SuSE Linux and Red Hat Inc.’s Linux distribution, said Marina Wasler, Novell’s director of marketing for central Europe. GroupWise lets users access e-mail, calendaring, instant messaging and other applications. It is offered currently for Novell’s NetWare operating system, Windows NT and Windows 2000.

Customers migrating from competing products will be able to buy the software for the price of an upgrade, while customers running GroupWise 6.5 on other platforms will be able to get the Linux version for no additional fee, Novell said. Pricing information is at

Richard Seibt, Novell’s president for the Europe, Middle East and Africa region, confirmed that Novell plans to release SuSE’s YaST (Yet Another Setup Tool) program for installing and managing Linux under an open source license, providing developers with more freedom in how they can use the software. The announcement will be made officially at Novell’s Brainshare conference next week, he said, and declined to give further details.

Speaking at the Cebit trade show here in Hanover, Germany, Novell executives also announced plans to release a product called ZenWorks Patch Management later this month. Built around software from PatchLink Corp., the software will help administrators deal with the continuous stream of patches released for Microsoft Corp.’s Windows operating system, officials said.

The product tells them which patches and holes they have on each Windows system in their network, and can deploy patches automatically in a bid to fix holes before hackers can exploit them. It will be available next Friday for an annual subscription of US$18 per device, the company said.

Novell has watched its share of the server operating system market decline steadily over the years, and its acquisition of SuSE is designed to put it back on track with a software platform that is enjoying rapid growth. Novell has said that it will stay committed to customers using its NetWare operating system, but will also help them migrate to the open source platform.

Meanwhile, the company finds itself with a broad, sometimes overlapping product line consisting of both proprietary and open source software. It has two open source desktop operating systems, for example — one from SuSE, which uses the KDE user interface, and one from Ximian, which uses the GNOME interface.

Novell will continue to support both operating systems, according to Seibt, but at some point the company will pick one and recommend that customers use it, he said. Novell isn’t ready to say yet which operating system it plans to back.

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