The current Novell Linux Desktop 9, which was released last November, is targeted not at the mass market but rather at those customers with more contained workloads.
But all of that is set to change with the next version of the product, Novell Linux Desktop 10, scheduled for release next year.
"The next generation of product will appeal to and meet the needs of the mass consumer market," Nat Friedman, vice president of Linux desktop engineering at Novell Inc., told eWEEK in an interview at Novells BrainShare conference here.
"There is this perfect storm of things coming together, and much of this will be seen in the SLES [SuSE Linux Enterprise Server] 10 time frame."
Friedman also has big plans for version 10 of the Linux desktop, which are matched by equally big claims. "We are getting ahead of [Microsoft] Windows for the first time," he said. "The release of SuSE Linux 9.2 brought a lot of innovative mobility features, while 9.3 has a variety of Mono-based applications."
One of the things Friedman is most excited about is a new desktop search and metadata technology, code-named Beagle, which indexes all of the content on a users hard drive, including Web sites visited and IM (instant-messaging) conversations, making the content instantly searchable.
It also will be able to store and search metadata. For a demonstration of some of the features in Beagle, go here.
The Beagle technology will be demonstrated to a large public group for the first time at BrainShare here on Friday, as will another technology that gets Friedman revved up. "We are also working on a technology for rendering 3-D graphics, known as a GL [graphic language]-based X server, which is under development.
"This will make all the kinds of eye candy of the Mac OS 10 available on the Linux desktop," he said. "During the demo, we will show six virtual 3-D desktops, the size of cubes, on the screen at the same time and how easy it is to switch between them."
The Beagle search facility was something Microsoft Corp. had been promising Windows customers for years, Friedman said. Last September, Microsoft said it would pull WinFS (the Windows File System) from the Longhorn desktop release due in 2006.
WinFS is a next-generation storage subsystem that allows advanced data organization and management, while improving the storage and retrieval of files. WinFS will be in beta testing when the Longhorn client ships and will be released sometime after that, Microsoft officials have said.
"We now have them for Linux, and for the Linux desktop. This is revolutionary and underscores the open-source approach to software development as well as the merits of a more modular approach," Friedman said.
Another technology under development is the F-Spot photo-management tool, which will have more functionality than the photo-management tool in Windows, he said.