The move is a step forward for SuSE, which, like other Linux vendors, is attempting to widen the support options available for large, established enterprises that want to run Linux alongside other systems. Under the agreement, customers who already have a support agreement with Sun can now get SuSE Linux support from the same source.
"Prior to making all these agreements, (the customer) would have had to call different people for support on different products. This is a more efficient way of getting support," said Malcolm Yates, strategic alliance manager with SuSE. "It takes the scariness out of dealing with Linux support."
The availability of support is a critical issue in encouraging large businesses to adopt Linux. The availability of support is the number one factor preventing companies from purchasing Linux installations, according to a survey by OpenForum released last month.
Also under the agreement, SuSE will become an official distributor of Sun's Java software. SuSE previously distributed Java with its products, but the agreement means that Sun can offer support for Java on SuSE installations.
Other Linux distributors, including market leader Red Hat and France's MandrakeSoft, also have support and distribution agreements with major vendors.