Novell Claims Red Hat Desktop Move Validates Its Strategy

By Peter Galli  |  Posted 2007-03-20 Print this article Print

The company says it is not surprised that Red Hat waited to act until Novell demonstrated that desktop Linux is viable and credible.

Novell officials are welcoming the news that Red Hat is planning a packaged Linux desktop solution, which they say validates their existing desktop-to-data center offering. Nat Friedman, Novells vice president of Linux desktop engineering, told eWEEK in an interview that Red Hats acknowledgment of the Linux desktops importance is welcomed.
Friedman also said he is not surprised that Red Hat waited to act until the point where Novell had demonstrated that desktop Linux is viable and credible.
Read more here about how Red Hat is planning a desktop offering for the masses. "If Red Hat is starting to make noise about the desktop, thats good for the market in general and is also a recognition of the effectiveness of our desktop-to-the-data center approach. But a credible desktop offering is more than just having bits on a CD," he said. "You also need to have a full ecosystem in place, be able to provide all the management tools, and ensure that all the protocols and shared files and things like Active Directory work well and are supported. We have all of this in SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop [SLED] 10 and so have a big lead on Red Hat on that front," he said. That sentiment was echoed by Novell Chief Technology Officer Jeff Jaffee, who told eWEEK that when it comes to developing a comprehensive solution for customers it is not just about the bits, but also about the level of integration, reliability and support that is provided. SLED 10 is a distribution Windows users can love. Click here to read more. "A lot of what Red Hat has announced recently is a validation for us. We are passionate supporters of the Linux desktop, and if more vendors take this seriously, thats good," he said. Friedman questioned how Red Hat will succeed in the desktop market given its small allocation of resources to OpenOffice, an area in which Novell has already done an enormous amount of work and where it is aggressively scaling up staffing. The desktop is also the driver in the recently announced deal between Novell and PSA Peugeot Citroen, which allows the French automaker to install as many as 20,000 versions of SUSE Linux Enterprise 10 on the desktop and up to 2,500 versions of SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 10, Friedman said. The first service pack for SLED 10, which is due for release in May, will bring with it a big advance in interoperability with Microsofts Active Directory. It also supports OpenOffice on both Windows and Linux, and has Xen virtualization and the OpenXML translator. Novell is prepping SUSE Linux Enterprise 10 SP1. Click here to read more. With regard to the next version of Novells desktop, SLED 11, Friedman said to expect modifications to the user interface, but declined to be more specific as the team is looking at a large number of scenarios. "But you can expect the user interface to change significantly over the next five years," he said. Asked how he thought SLED 10 compares to Microsofts Windows Vista, Friedman said it stacks up very well on the technical side. "I looked at Vista and, frankly, I think its a bit of a disappointment. The big plus for them is the ISV community they have around it," he said. With regard to Office 2007 and its new file formats and user interface, Friedman said, "Im glad we have a technical cooperation agreement with Microsoft." Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest open-source news, reviews and analysis.
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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