By Rex Crum Technology stocks started the week on a strong note Monday, posting gains in a session highlighted by Novell Inc. after the business-software maker rejected a buyout offer but also said it was exploring a sale of the company. Novell (NOVL) shares climbed 2 cents, or 4.4%, to $5.89 after the company said over the weekend that a $2 billion buyout offer from private-equity firm Elliott Associates was "inadequate" and undervalued the company. Elliott's offer valued Novell's stock at $5.75 a share. However, in a statement, Novell said its board of directors is exploring several options, including a sale of the company. Elliott also said it hasn't given up trying to acquire the once high-flying software developer. Led by Novell, the Nasdaq Composite Index (RIXF) rose almost 21 points to 2,395, while the Philadelphia Semiconductor Index (SOX) climbed 2.4% and the Morgan Stanley High Index (MSH) also advanced. Gains came from Apple Inc. (AAPL), Oracle Corp. (ORCL), Dell Inc. (DELL), Cisco Systems Inc. (CSCO), and Intel Corp. (INTC). Hard-disk drive makers got a lift after the brokerage Brean Murray gave an upbeat assessment of sector leaders Seagate Technology (STX) and Western Digital Corp. (WDC). Brean Murray analyst Ananda Baruah said in a research note that Seagate and Western Digital appear headed toward posting strong gross margins and results for the March quarter. Seagate shares rose 78 cents, or 4%, to $19.71, while Western Digital climbed $2.50 a share, or 6.6%, to $40.64. Google Inc. (GOOG) shares gave up $2.50 to close at $557.50 after the Internet giant said it had stopped censoring the search results on its Chinese-language search engine following weeks of negotiations with the Chinese government. Palm Inc. (PALM) retreated, giving up 2 cents a share to close at $3.98. Earlier in the day, the company said that AT&T Inc. (T) will begin selling the company's Palm Pre Plus and Pixi Plus smartphones. No date for the release was set.