Novell releases SuSE Linux with 2.6 kernel

Novell Inc. has just released SUSE Linux 9.1 in Personal and Professional Editions, heeding the call from users for more scalability and better security in an enterprise-level Linux distribution.

At the CEBIT trade show in Hanover, Germany on Thursday, Novell announced that SUSE is the first commercial Linux distribution to incorporate the 2.6 kernel. Its major competitor, Red Hat Inc., plans to include the 2.6 kernel in its Enterprise product in early 2005. Red Hat’s community Linux project, Fedora, has already added the kernel.

“This is not a dramatic, revolutionary product. It’s pretty clear that [SuSE 9.1] is built on things that the open source community and SuSE have been working on for a long time,” said Dan Kusnetzky, vice-president, system software at IDC based in Framingham, Mass. “[SuSE 9.1] is evolutionary in improving performance and base scalability of the operating system — that comes with the 2.6 kernel. [Additionally] improvements have been made in memory management, I/O management and some optimization has been done in a number of areas of the file system. Each little improvement doesn’t result in a significant change in how it works but by adding up all the performance improvements one would see better performance and more reliable computing.”

Available starting May 6, SuSE 9.1 Professional now includes support for AMD Athlon 64-bit chips as well as Intel Corp.’s Extended Memory 64-bit technology. It ships as five CDs and two double-sided DVDs containing more than 2,500 open source applications.

SuSE 9.1 Personal is designed for developers or users who need networking capabilities and server functionality. It ships as two CDs: the LiveCD includes a users manual and lets Linux newbies learn and test out the operating system without committing it to hard drive; the other CD allows the user to install the system along with an integrated firewall.

Kusnetzky said SuSE 9.1 Personal would be suitable for developers writing platform-neutral applications or products for Linux or Unix. Additionally, he said it is ready for knowledge workers who aren’t dependent on Microsoft Office applications, consumers who simply require access to the Internet and Web functions, as well as the transactional worker. Transactional workers usually dislike computers but need them to access some corporate functions, usually via the Web.

Both the Personal and Professional Editions include Samba 3, which smoothes interaction between Linux and Microsoft Corp.’s Windows in heterogeneous networks by integrating Linux hosts into Windows domains and Microsoft’s Active Directory. Additionally, deleted files from desktop clients can be retrieved on the server and users can sign-on and be authenticated without the administrator making any changes to Windows. Kusnetzky said the addition of Samba 3 has improved both performance and manageability of SuSE 9.1.

Also, e-mail, Internet, e-mail image, graphics and audio and video software are included along with 1.1 among other products.

The new distributions all ship with KDE 3.2.1 and GNOME 2.4.2, which are two graphical desktop alternatives for Linux. Some enhancements to GNOME 2.4.2 include CD burning, the addition of Gaim, an instant messaging (IM) client and CUPS, a simplified printing configuration. Some new GNOME apps include videoconferencing and the groupware suite, Evolution.

KDE 3.2.1 boasts more than 10,000 improvements. For example, its new personal information manager, Kontact, provides the same look-and-feel to e-mail, calendar, address book and notes. Its IM client integrates with MSN, AOL’s IM, ICQ, IRC, Yahoo Inc.’s IM and Jabber. KDE’s Web browser, Konqueror, can now import bookmarks from Microsoft’s Internet Explorer, while Kwallet is a central repository for passwords and access information.

SuSE Linux 9.1 Personal and Professional Editions will be available at SuSE’s online store, bookstores and software suppliers. The Personal Edition will sell at US$29.95, while the Professional Edition will sell at US$89.95. Alternatively, current users of SuSE Professional can update to 9.1 for US$59.95.

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