Ottawa-based software maker Corel Corp. has sold its Linux division to a privately held startup, a move that ends Corel’s commitment to developing its own desktop version of the open-source operating system.

A newly formed company called Xandros reportedly will pay $2 million in cash for Corel’s Linux unit, a division that comprised about 14 percent of Corel’s total business as of January 2001.

Speculation about the buyer of Corel’s Linux division had circulated in media reports since last January, when the company’s new chief executive, Derek Burney, said the division could weigh down Corel’s growth. Earlier reports placed the unit’s value at $5 million.

The sale of its Linux unit will enable Corel to focus on its graphics software business, which it recently beefed up with the acquisitions of Softquad Software Ltd. and technical illustration firm Micrografx.

Corel also is likely to continue to sell Linux versions of its WordPerfect Office and CorelDraw software products, according to reports.

PC Data estimates that Corel’s Linux division sells about 25 percent of all Linux operating systems for desktop computers, second only to Red Hat. The company marketed its desktop version of Linux to schools and other consumers, but sales were disappointing.

Linux, created 10 years ago by Finnish computer programming student Linus Torvalds, is often seen as a rival to Microsoft Windows, the dominant operating system used in personal computers.