An entry in the blog of Sun Microsystems President Jonathan Schwartz has sparked speculation that the Santa Clara company may be considering buying Novell Inc., a major vendor of Linux.

In an entry on Sunday, Schwartz strongly suggested that acquiring the Massachusetts business technology firm could hurt a major Sun rival, IBM.

The idea is based on what Schwartz sees as IBM's dilemma with Linux, the open-source operating system that is gaining ground in the corporate market.

He said that IBM may be feeling threatened by the rise of Red Hat, the leading vendor of Linux products, which run on machines sold by major tech firms, including Hewlett-Packard and IBM.

In a bid to slow down Red Hat, Schwartz said, IBM is hoping to direct customers to another Linux firm, Suse, owned by Novell.

"Whoever owns Novell controls the (operating system on which) IBM's future depends," Schwartz wrote. "Now that's an interesting thought, isn't it?"

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