Novell to Launch Community Linux Distribution

By Steven Vaughan-Nichols  |  Posted 2005-08-03

Novell to Launch Community Linux Distribution

Novell will be launching a community-based Linux distribution, OpenSuSE, at next weeks LinuxWorld in San Francisco, according to sources close to the company.

Following in the footsteps of Red Hat Inc. with its successful Fedora Project Linux distribution, Novell Inc. will be opening the doors to its Linux development efforts with OpenSuSE.

A Web site,, has already been set up for the project by Novell under the name of Bruce Wayne. The site, however, is not open for business yet. Continuing in this humorous vein, sources say that the initiatives launch will go by the name of "The Lizard Blizzard" and SuSEs original "Geeko" lizard mascot will be reappearing at LinuxWorld.

More seriously, the actual deliverable distribution will be called SuSE Linux. The SuSE Linux Pro line will be rebranded SuSE Linux.

This is an approach that has been discussed before in the Linux community. Jason Perlow, a systems architect with Unisys open-source solutions practice and author, wrote in Mays Linux Magazine that, "Its pretty darn clear to me that to make mojo, SuSE Linux Professional needs to look deep into its roots and re-birth itself as a public, open-source project similar to Fedora."

Perlow argued that Novells keeping its open-source technologies close to its vest had not served the company well.

With a open community approach, "key SuSE/Ximian/Novell technologies such as Mono, Evolution, Red Carpet, NDS, ZENworks and Hula to the fore, allowing even more extensive field testing within the community."

"As a result, a lot of the other distros have moved to Thunderbird instead of Evolution, and APT and YUM instead of a great client-server technology like Red Carpet. If the community had easier access to those projects for testing and development, its clear that more people would use and extend them."

Perlows arguments seem to have not fallen on deaf ears.

Next Page: Novell must be aware of Fedoras success.

Novell Must Be

Aware of Fedoras Success">

Certainly Novell also had to be aware of Red Hat Fedoras growing success.

In the Fedora community-based approach, the development cycle is driven not just by the companys engineers working on Linux but by the larger open-source community. The result is a cutting edge Linux for enthusiasts.

Once the code matures to the point where enterprises can use it, it is then locked down, given quality and assurance testing, and released it as a commercial product with support.

In Red Hats case, the final stage of each version of Fedora becomes the basis for RHEL (Red Hat Enterprise Linux).

With Novell, the SuSE Linux code will become the foundation for the next version of SLES (SuSE Linux Enterprise Server), the Linux component of OES (Open Enterprise Server) and NLD (Novell Linux Desktop).

The first version of SuSE Linux will consist of the Linux 2.6-based beta for SLES 10. This will be roughly equivalent to what would have been SuSE Linux Professional 9.5.

The model isnt quite the same as Red Hats though. Unlike Red Hat, which only makes Fedora available as a download and doesnt offer support for it, Novell will also sell SuSE Linux in a retail, boxed version with manuals and paid technical support.

The full version will be freely available from the OpenSuSE site as both source code and in ISO downloads. Sources close to the company say that dual-approach is because Novell wants SuSE Linux to be both worked on by the community and ran by users who dont want to develop but do want a supported, cutting-edge Linux.

Like Red Hat and Fedora, Novell will initially be running the SuSE Linux show, but control will eventually be ceded to a steering board.

Officially, Novell would not confirm this story.

Bruce Lowry, director of public relations, did say, however, that any changes in how Novell was developing Linux had nothing to do with announced European employee cuts.

"Novells European financial performance has been disappointing and this is part of the effort to turn this around."

"This is in no way connected with SuSE engineering and development staff. It is directed at our redundant sales force. This move is designed to make Europe more profitable."

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