Page Three

By Jason Brooks  |  Posted 2005-05-02 Print this article Print

SuSE Linux Professional 9.3 is the first distribution weve tested to ship with KDE 3.4 and GNOME 2.10, the latest versions of the Linux platforms most prominent desktop environments. Neither release is a blockbuster, but each ships with improvements that we noticed and appreciated during our tests. For example, the default file manager in GNOME 2.10, Nautilus, now does a better job of supporting drag-and-drop operations from non-GNOME applications such as the Firefox browser.

Click here to read reviews of KDE 3.3 and GNOME 2.8.
GNOME ships with Version 2.2.1 of the Evolution groupware client, which supports offline access to data when working with GroupWise and Microsofts Exchange—a feature thats been conspicuously absent from Evolution.

We were also pleased to see that Evolution now supports Exchange password expiry warnings; without this feature, Evolution users accessing Exchange have had to visit Exchanges Outlook Web Access interface to see these warnings and change their passwords.

KDE 3.4 also boasts notable improvements to its groupware application, Kontact, including support for the eGroupware, GroupWise, Kolab, and SLOX (SuSE Linux Open Exchange) servers. In addition, KDEs instant messaging client, Kopete, now supports Novell GroupWise and Lotus Sametime.

On the accessibility front—which has for the past few years been a particularly bright spot for both KDE and GNOME—KDE 3.4 sports broadened support for text-to-speech. During tests, we could opt for text to be read to us from Konqueror, KDEs file manager/Web browser, as well as from KDEs PDF viewer and text editor.

Continuing along suse Linux Professional 9.3s leading-edge-technologies theme, the distribution ships with a full implementation of Mono, the open-source implementation of Microsofts .Net software development framework, as well as with a handful of interesting, useful Mono-based applications.

Beagle—potentially the most compelling (though currently least well-cooked) of the Mono applications to ship with SuSE Linux Professional 9.3—works more or less like Google Desktop. Beagle doesnt search through as many types of files as Googles desktop search tool does.

However, employing Beagle, we could search for information throughout our home directory, including Evolution mail messages, and Microsoft Office documents, and from our browser history.

SuSE Linux Professional 9.3 includes the Mono-based Tomboy Notes, a great personal note-taking application that works like a personal wiki, and F-Spot, a photo management application that boasts a slick interface for browsing through and manipulating large collections of images. Both applications performed stably during testing.

SuSE Linux Professional 9.3 is the first shipping distribution were aware of that includes support for the Xen virtual machine monitor—a project that, although relatively new, appears to offer the best option for open-source system virtualization moving forward.

Its not as though Xen cant be installed on other Linux distributions, but by including the necessary packages and documentation—not to mention a setup tool for installing SuSE into virtualized instances—SuSE Linux Professional 9.3 shortens the path to getting up and running.

However, youll need to hit the documents and edit config files to get Xen going. Xen can be configured to deliver VMware-type functionality on SuSE, but setting up Xen domains on SuSE is nowhere near as easy as it is with VMware.

In fact, in our SuSE Linux Professional 9.3 testing, we barely broke the surface with Xen, simply configuring and running a virtual domain running the miniaturized Linux distribution, ttylinux.

Next page: Evaluation Shortlist: Related Products.

As Editor in Chief of eWEEK Labs, Jason Brooks manages the Labs team and is responsible for eWEEK's print edition. Brooks joined eWEEK in 1999, and has covered wireless networking, office productivity suites, mobile devices, Windows, virtualization, and desktops and notebooks. JasonÔÇÖs coverage is currently focused on Linux and Unix operating systems, open-source software and licensing, cloud computing and Software as a Service. Follow Jason on Twitter at jasonbrooks, or reach him by email at

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