The battle between Linux distributors is hotting up with both UnitedLinux and Red Hat launching products to the market.
Last week Red Hat appointed IBM Global Services as its first partner to resell its Advanced Server.
Red Hat will deliver mainstream support for Advanced Server on IBM's complete line of Intel, RISC and mainframe eServers. Meanwhile, IBM is offering managed software services and consulting services for Advanced Server.
"IBM has a huge global channel which will benefit from this agreement," said Mark de Visser, vice-president of worldwide marketing at Red Hat.
"The reach that this agreement provides in terms of geographical areas is immense and that alone will bring many reseller opportunities."
The agreement with IBM is an example of how companies such as Red Hat are "creating an ecosystem and producing the building blocks of Linux", de Visser added.
In turn, the companies behind UnitedLinux - SuSE, Turbolinux, Conectiva and SCO Group - have confirmed that a public preview of their software will be available before the end of the month.
UnitedLinux is designed to be a standards-based version of the open source operating system and will compete directly with Red Hat.
"We really don't know enough about the UnitedLinux offering to be able to comment on it," de Visser said.
Clive Longbottom, service director at analyst firm Quocirca, said Red Hat is winning the battle of the distributors.
"In the past there were hundreds of different Linux distributions, but now there are only two, which will erase a lot of confusion," he said.
"Many vendor agreements have been going Red Hat's way and, although some vendors will have secondary agreements with UnitedLinux, the default versions will remain as Red Hat."
Longbottom said that UnitedLinux's view of a Linux desktop is a long way from being finalised, mainly because of the lack of common device drivers installed in the software.
"No firm will want to search for certain drivers before being able to use a PC, so at the moment it seems that Red Hat has the upper hand, with UnitedLinux at best on the back foot," he said.
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