Timely Linux launch leaves Vista lagging
Microsoft's decision to hold back the launch of its forthcoming Windows Vista operating system appears to have played into the hands of Novell, its would-be rival.
While there's still some doubt over the exact date the delayed next version of Windows will hit the market, Novell launched its price-competitive SuSE Linux enterprise 10 desktop and server editions last week.
Novell's chief technology officer, Markus Rex, says the new desktop has evolved from being a developer’s dream and an end-user’s nightmare to something they can take to the average user.
“What started as a desktop made by hackers for hackers 12 years ago has evolved into a viable option as an everyday operating system. When I used it 12 years ago you had to be a programmer to change the background; that is no longer the case.”
Paul Kangro, applied technology strategist with Novell, says the new desktop presents a different view, more targeted towards the typical corporate user.
“We have gone back to basics and are targeting the average corporate worker. We have created an attractive new desktop which is very usable. It can have windows working as a backdrop, giving access to certain programs. The new desktop has a ‘cube’ design with multiple 3D views. We’re using power in a better way, making it easier for older machines to utilise the graphics.”
The cost of the new operating system is $75 per annum, on a seven-year cycle. This means the OS will be continuously updated for seven years. Should there be a version 11 released before then it will be included under the current update plan.
Andreas Girardet, Linux evangelist, says Novell’s acquisition of SuSE was great for a Linux community dominated by open source programming.
“It is community based and is growing rapidly. The open source project obviously plays a big part in this, and as with open office it is constantly updatable through drivers, plus it has a build service for developers.”
SuSE already has the backing of large corporations — Telecom is a customer and the IRD is currently piloting the system.
“Linux on a server is very solid; people don’t ask questions about it and it has proved itself to be very stable. Using the same code that works flawlessly in the server, the user gets all the features one would expect from a solid desktop,” says Rex.
Kangro says the upcoming release of Vista will lead people to look for other options.
“The question quickly becomes; ‘why not Linux?’. It is hard to find an answer for why you would pay more for other systems. With Vista coming out, people will start looking at alternatives. This is really a viable alternative.”
On a per-capita basis the ANZ region is traditionally at the forefront when it comes to Linux users and developers.
Rex says installation of the new OS is simple across several workstations, and certain features will enable the system to be easily customised for security.
“On an installation basis, it is very easy to clone. Take, for example, a call centre with 200 PCs — just deploy the clone and the installation is automatic. It does not need identical PCs to clone images. From a security point of view, it can be customised to allow applications to only perform certain tasks.”
Girardet says the open community surrounding Linux is responsible for elevating the product into what it is today.
“Open source relies on the passion of the developers. It is like building a pyramid versus a normal house. In building a house, builders come, they finish the job and then they leave. A pyramid takes thousands of people working together for a very long time, but in the end they have created something fantastic.”