Novell’s New Desktop Targets Enterprises, Not Consumers

By Jacqueline Emigh
Linux Today Writer

Strong as it may be, Novell’s new Linux desktop push is more or
less limited to big enterprises right now. Under Novell’s ownership
of SUSE Linux, consumers will continue to be treated as a separate
market for Linux, according to officials of the converging

Novell’s new desktop support arrangements cover SUSE Linux
Enterprise Edition, but not either SUSE Linux Professional Edition
or SUSE’s consumer product, Personal Edition, according to Novell
Vice Chairman Chris Stone. Meanwhile, unlike SUSE’s professional
and enterprise flavors, which now provide both KDE and GNOME
support, Personal Edition will continue to support KDE only for the
foreseeable future, said Chris Schlaeger, vice president, Research
and Development.

Unveiled at last week’s BrainShare conference, the new deal with
HP for Enterprise Edition extends an earlier support pact for
Professional Edition. The Enterprise Edition deal, however, is the
first to cover not just servers but desktops, too.

“There is not a consumer component to this,” Stone said, during
a Q&A with reporters at BrainShare. With the HP agreement,
Novell is targeting large enterprises, he added.

During a keynote, also at BrainShare, Novell VP of Linux Martin
Fink said that HP envisions supporting “one solid, consistent
platform from the laptop to the data center.”

Novell is now working on a new desktop, which will bring
together elements of the existing SUSE Linux desktop, the Evolution
desktop obtained through Novell’s Ximian acquisition, and the
Mozilla browser, Stone said during the Q&A. “HP will use this
desktop, too,” Stone noted.

Although SUSE Linux initially supported KDE only, SUSE actually
started adding GNOME support about a year after shipping its first
product, maintained Markus Rex, vice president and general manager,
SUSE Linux, during an interview with Linux Today. “It’s all about
choice,” Rex observed.

“Unlike some other companies, we are offering a choice,”
Schlaeger echoed, in another interview with Linux Today. KDE is
much more prevalent than GNOME in both Europe and the Far East, he

“We’ve also been finding, though, that KDE is more popular than
GNOME among our North American customers–but maybe that’s because
we do offer KDE as a choice, so people who like KDE come to us,” he

However, SUSE supports both the KDE and GNOME environments in
its professional and enterprise products only, Schlaeger pointed
out. “We will never support anything but KDE in Personal Edition,”
he predicted.

Schlaeger gave “ease of use” as the reason why. Enterprise
Edition is geared to the enterprise environment, and Profesional
Edition is for Linux professionals doing work at home.

Personal Edition, on the other hand, is for “non-professionals”
in home environments, and Novell/SUSE doesn’t want to overwhelm
these consumers with too many options, Schlaeger said.

The 9.1 versions of Personal Edition and Professional Edition
are slated in ship in May. Novell is eyeing the end of this year
for shipment of the next release of Enterprise Edition, a product
that will combine SUSE Linux, Evolution, Mozilla, KDE and GNOME in
ways that are yet to be completely decided.

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