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Going private and re-establishing itself as a separate business unit appears to have done SUSE, the Linux company, a world of good if one goes by the comments of Nils Brauckmann, president and general manager.

Eighteen months ago, the company began re-establishing itself in Nuremberg, after having been an integral part of Novell in the US. SUSE was bought by Novell in 2003; the re-establishment came after Attachmate Corporation purchased Novell last year.

In his keynote on Wednesday morning (US Eastern time), the first of three at SUSECON, the company's first annual conference, being held in Orlando, Brauckmann (pictured above) said that looking at the trends midway through the company's fiscal year, which runs from April to March, it was on course to reach or even slightly top its annual target of $US225 million in turnover.

He said that there had been growth of 18 per cent in bookings and this was accelerating, a healthy level for a company that was in the open source business.

SUSE is not the biggest name in commercial Linux - it has around 780 employees in 43 countries - yet it led the rest when it came to utilisation in the aerospace and defence industries, and in having the most certified business applications, Brauckmann pointed out.

Over 80 per cent of Linux running on mainframes was SUSE, 70 per cent of all SAP applications on Linux were again running on SUSE, and it was also the most widely used commercial Linux in China, far ahead of Red Hat, he added.

Again, when it came to retail, the automotive sector, the most certified hardware devices, or high-performance computing, SUSE was the leader with much better support than either Red Hat or Oracle.

Brauckmann was cautious in his comments, always reiterating the fact that SUSE was a medium-sized software company.

In the last 12 months, SUSE had booked 2800 new business customers, and its margin of profits was in the 15 to 20 percent range, an acceptable level for an open source business. Business-wise, 40 per cent was in each of the EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) and North American regions, while 20 per cent was in the Asia-Pacific region.

A further statistic testifying to SUSE's progress was the fact that more than two-thirds of the Fortune global 100 were using the company's enterprise server distribution, Brauckmann said.

Looking ahead to the next five years, he said he was confident that there would be growth of 18 to 20 per cent and that, over the period, the company would increase its turnover to $US500 million. And, he added, the company would continue to be one that focused on open source.

The other keynotes were delivered by Dirk Hohndel, the chief Linux and open source technologist at Intel, and Doug Balog, general manager, system Z, at IBM.

Hohndel, who worked for SUSE in the 1990s, and Balog both traced the involvement of their respective companies with open source technologies and also with SUSE.

Around 450 people are attending the conference which ends on Friday.

The writer is attending SUSECON as a guest of SUSE

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Sam Varghese

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A professional journalist with decades of experience, Sam for nine years used DOS and then Windows, which led him to start experimenting with GNU/Linux in 1998. Since then he has written widely about the use of both free and open source software, and the people behind the code. His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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