Linux Desktop Improves Search

By Peter Galli  |  Posted 2005-03-28 Print this article Print

Some IT executives welcome the Novell system's new features but say they remain skeptical and are unlikely to move their staff off Windows anytime soon.

The next version of Novell Inc.s Linux Desktop will include new metadata search technology and other capabilities that company executives said they believe will give it the muscle it needs to take on Windows in the consumer market.

Among the new features Novell hopes will draw the masses to the new desktop operating system, due next year, is Beagle, a desktop search and metadata technology that indexes all the content on a users hard drive, including Web sites visited and instant messaging conversations, making this content all instantly searchable.
It will also be able to store and search metadata.

The Waltham, Mass., company unveiled Beagle at its annual BrainShare user conference here last week.

But while some IT executives welcome these new features and express excitement about the progress Novell is making on the Linux Desktop front, they remain skeptical. In addition, they said they are unlikely to move their staff off Windows anytime soon, citing the training and learning curve the move would require.

Dan Tesenair, a senior network engineer at Health First, a health care delivery network with 6,000 employees in Broward County, Florida, said that while his engineering team has evaluated and used Linux Desktop themselves, its unlikely to roll the system out to staff in the near future.

"I just dont think the Linux Desktop is ready for the mass market as yet, and even features like Beagle, which are wonderful, probably wont be enough to overcome the learning curve associated with switching away from Windows," Tesenair said.

But Novells Nat Friedman, vice president of Linux desktop engineering, points to other compelling features under development that are designed to broaden Linux Desktops appeal, such as technology for rendering 3-D graphics, known as a graphics language-based X server. "This will make all the kinds of eye candy of the Mac OS X available on the Linux desktop," Friedman said.

During his BrainShare demo, Friedman showed six virtual 3-D desktops on the screen at the same time and demonstrated how easy it is to switch among them.

Friedman said its significant that Novells Linux Desktop will have numerous compelling features not found in Windows. "This is revolutionary and underscores the strength of the open-source approach to software development as well as the merits of a more modular approach," he said.

Novell plans to capitalize on the fact that while Microsoft Corp. has been promising Windows customers technology such as the Beagle search facility for years, it has not delivered on that promise yet. Last September, Microsoft, of Redmond, Wash., said it would pull WinFS, the Windows File System, from Longhorn, the next-generation Windows desktop release due next year. WinFS is a storage subsystem that allows advanced data organization and management and improves file storage and retrieval.

WinFS will be in the beta test stage when the Longhorn client ships and will be released sometime after that, officials said.

Windows Alternative New Novell Linux Desktop will include:
  • Beagle A desktop search feature designed to search documents, e-mail, instant messages, Web history, source code, music files and PowerPoint files
  • Tomboy A desktop note-taking technology
  • F-Spot A personal photo management application
    Peter Galli has been a financial/technology reporter for 12 years at leading publications in South Africa, the UK and the US. He has been Investment Editor of South Africa's Business Day Newspaper, the sister publication of the Financial Times of London.

    He was also Group Financial Communications Manager for First National Bank, the second largest banking group in South Africa before moving on to become Executive News Editor of Business Report, the largest daily financial newspaper in South Africa, owned by the global Independent Newspapers group.

    He was responsible for a national reporting team of 20 based in four bureaus. He also edited and contributed to its weekly technology page, and launched a financial and technology radio service supplying daily news bulletins to the national broadcaster, the South African Broadcasting Corporation, which were then distributed to some 50 radio stations across the country.

    He was then transferred to San Francisco as Business Report's U.S. Correspondent to cover Silicon Valley, trade and finance between the US, Europe and emerging markets like South Africa. After serving that role for more than two years, he joined eWeek as a Senior Editor, covering software platforms in August 2000.

    He has comprehensively covered Microsoft and its Windows and .Net platforms, as well as the many legal challenges it has faced. He has also focused on Sun Microsystems and its Solaris operating environment, Java and Unix offerings. He covers developments in the open source community, particularly around the Linux kernel and the effects it will have on the enterprise.

    He has written extensively about new products for the Linux and Unix platforms, the development of open standards and critically looked at the potential Linux has to offer an alternative operating system and platform to Windows, .Net and Unix-based solutions like Solaris.

    His interviews with senior industry executives include Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, Linus Torvalds, the original developer of the Linux operating system, Sun CEO Scot McNealy, and Bill Zeitler, a senior vice president at IBM.

    For numerous examples of his writing you can search under his name at the eWEEK Website at


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