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Dell and Sun Microsystems actually agree on something. Both companies think Red Hat's Linux operating system and services are too expensive.

A Dell executive struck out at Red Hat today, saying smaller customers might shy away from the price of Red Hat's software. This charge is particularly unusual for Dell, which has been a major Red Hat backer. Dell, in fact, has been a longtime investor in Red Hat and was late to promote SuSE Linux as an option for customers.

"We believe Red Hat Enterprise Linux 3, for the small and medium-sized business market, was out of the price range of these customers," Judy Chavis, director of business development for Dell's enterprise product group told CNET. "(Red Hat's price) was definitely a factor in us working with Novell. Novell was able to step in and offer us that price point."

Sun executives have long been beating on Red Hat's pricing model, saying the company charges too much for services and support. In addition, Sun has pointed to Red Hat customers who complain about the costs of certifying software to the company's version of Linux.

Dell, typically a quiet company, will take an occasional public shot at partners in order to help out its own bottom line. Chavis, however, was more aggressive than usual with her comments.

"You get overconfident," she continued. "You believe you're the only game in town. But you always have to be watching for the second in line." ®

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