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.
"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.
"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.
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."