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Novell's New Desktop Targets Enterprises, Not Consumers

Mar 31, 2004, 21:00 (27 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Jacqueline Emigh)

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 company.

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 said.

"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 added.

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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