SuSE is to join Debian as the second major Linux distributor to expand its horizons beyond Intel-type chips to PowerPCs and Macs.

A beta quality SuSE 6.3 for the Mac will be unveiled tomorrow at MacWorld Expo, currently running in San Francisco. The final version will ship in spring.

The release will be identical to versions of the open source OS SuSE offers for x86 and Alpha platforms, the company said. The PowerPC version will ship with SuSE's own administration and configuration tools.

Debian was tight-lipped over its Mac move, waiting for the next major release of the 2.2 Intel version - when the two releases can be consolidated - before shipping the Mac release.

Paving the way for the Mac-Linux tie-in were Mac projects such as LinuxPPC and Yellow Dog Linux, that forced major Linux players to view the Mac as a viable platform.

Now, Industry experts say SuSE will legitimize Mac Linux in the eyes of the x86 world.

A basic version of Debian for PowerPC can be downloaded from the Debian Web site. SuSE will also make its beta release available for download. A $49.95/Euro 46 package containing installation CD and 60 days' tech support will also ship shortly.