Novell unwraps new version of Linux

Von Ed Scannell

Hoping to appeal to as broad a technical audience as possible, Novell Inc. released a new version of Suse Linux Professional at Cebit, in Hanover, Germany, on Thursday that includes the 2.611 version of the kernel, the 2.0 version of the productivity suite, and the Firefox 1.0 browser.

Version 9.3, expected to be available through retail stories in the U.S. and online by mid-April, contains about 1,000 open source applications aimed at more technical users in both the business and home markets. It also contains previews of upcoming Linux-based server technologies including the XEN virtualization environment and a more intuitive search engine, according to company officials.

"I think we have gained a strong following among new Linux users and technical enthusiasts who want access to the latest enhancements to Linux. But we are also providing corporate Linux users a preview of the technologies in Novell"s future enterprise Linux as a means of growing their skills to remain competitive in the IT market," said Markus Rex, vice president in charge of Suse Linux at Novell.

Besides the latest versions of desktop productivity software and browsers, Version 9.3 also has both the KDE 3.4 and Gnome 2.10 desktop environments; improved Wi-Fi support for Bluetooth devices; a number of development tools including Mono 1.14, Eclipse 3.0.1, KDevelop 3.2 and integrated firewall, spam blocker and virus scanner.

Although the product can be configured for both server and desktop systems, Novell appears to have a particular focus on desktop users. It includes a number of graphics and multimedia applications, including the F-Spot photo organizer, the GIMP 2.2 and Inkscape graphics software, multimedia viewers and CD/DVD burners, and software to make it easier to set up home networks.

The new 64-bit version works with both standard 32-bit processors, Intel Corp."s Extended Memory 64 Technology, and archrival Advanced Micro Devices Inc."s (AMD"s) Athlon 64 processors.

The suggested retail price of Version 9.3 is ?77.54 (US$103.47) excluding sales tax, although users with earlier versions of SuSe Linux can buy the new version for ?51.68. Company officials said pricing for the product in the U.S. market will be announced at the time of its delivery.

More information about the new release can be seen at