In an effort to convince frustrated Windows users to adopt Linux, Novell has introduced a new version of SuSE Linux that bundles revamped applications and tools with the latest version of the operating system.
SuSE Linux Professional 9.3 includes the complete Linux operating system, more than 3,000 open-source packages, including the Microsoft Office-compatible OpenOffice office suite, and hundreds of open-source applications.
The offering also includes a variety of graphics and multimedia applications; multiple development tools; a comprehensive set of Internet tools, including the open-source Firefox 1.0 Web browser and e-mail and instant messaging clients; an integrated firewall, spam blocker and virus scanner; and support for VOIP (voice over IP) and virtualization.
By bundling such a vast array of applications and tools, Novell hopes to woo Microsoft users who may be frustrated with Windows security bugs and might be open to switching to Linux if the transition is smooth and easy.
"Were trying to expand our user base with each release," said Chris Schlaeger, vice president of engineering for open-source platforms at Novell, of Sacramento, Calif. "We want those people who have experienced security problems and might be ready to try Linux."
SuSE Linux Professional 9.3, due to ship next month, is easier to use than ever before, Schlaeger said, thanks to improvements in OpenOffice 2.0, the open-source equivalent to Microsoft Office.
The newest version of OpenOffice is more interoperable with Microsoft Office documents, and the user interface is intended to be easier to use.
The result, Schlaeger said, is an application that provides users with the same amount of functionality and a similar look and feel to Microsoft Office, but with greater security.
Next up for SuSE Linux, Schlaeger said, is greater virtualization.
Novell currently is working with Xen open-source virtualization technology, developed by Cambridge University, which will allow users to start other operating systems inside an operating system.
"The idea is that you can have multiple operating systems running at the same time, unlike today, where you can only run other instances of Linux," Schlaeger said.
The solution, currently under development, would be most beneficial for enterprise customers and developers, he said.