SuSE Linux is set to release its latest consumer product, SuSE Linux 9.0. The company claims the update is the first home user operating system platform to leverage AMDs Athlon 64 processor, giving workstation users performance enhancements available only through the 64-bit architecture.
The new operating system, which will be available in retail stores on October 24, also allows easier Windows migration by supporting NTFS file systems and gives technical users a first-look at the enhanced capabilities of the upcoming 2.6 Linux kernel.
"We are delivering SuSE Linux 9.0 for 32-bit systems as usual as well as for the Athlon 64-bit systems, targeted at those technical enthusiasts and desktop users who want to do things like rendering and play games," Holger Dyroff, SuSEs general manager for the Americas, told eWEEK in an interview on Monday.
SuSE in May delivered its Enterprise Server product on AMDs Opteron platform, and according to Dyroff, the company has sold 1,000 licenses so far, primarily to systems builders who then sold it to research, educational and government customers.
Version 9.0 Personal, including three CDs, a user guide and 60 days of installation support, will cost $39.95. The Professional edition, which comes with five CDs, a double DVD, user guide, administration guide and 90 days of installation support, will be $79.95. The Professional version for AMD 64-bit architecture will cost $119.95.
The update will include a Linux 2.6 kernel test system, which allows users to try out the upcoming kernel and to see the new features it contains, including improved scheduling, advanced Linux sound architecture and greater support for power management.
"But this will probably only be used by technical enthusiasts as you will probably need more than one computer to do so and the hardware selection offered is limited," Dyroff said.
Version 9.0 also will offer far better Windows integration and enhanced support for the NTFS file system, which enables users to more easily repartition the hard disk space. Dyroff said the support gives customers the opportunity to take advantage of the stability and security of Linux, while maintaining the ability to access the Windows client if and when thats needed.
"This is important as some 50 percent of our customers are running both Windows and SuSE Linux on their systems. Our new software also includes the built-in ability to shrink Windows XP partitions, which previously required a third-party solution. Users will also be able to read and write into any XP partitions," Dyroff said.
The application menu is simplified using vfolder (virtual folder) technology which only has two levels, allowing most preinstalled applications to be accessed easily.
In addition, the packages will come with the latest release of Openoffice.org, Version 1.1, which includes new features such as the easy export of PDF files; the import and export of all kinds of XML formats; and the export of presentation in flash format. A macro recorder will also enable the use of command sequences by means of a shortcut; and complex layouts can be done with the desktop publishing program Scribus 1.0.
"We sell about 300,000 copies of our product globally every six months. We have done fine in the retail space, but demand there has softened due to the better availability of broadband for faster online downloads and the weaker economy. SuSE Linux 8.0 was by far our best seller so far, and we are hoping that [Version] 9.0 will do as well as those users upgrade," Dyroff said.
SUSEs central control and configuration system assistant YaST (Yet another Setup Tool) will offer a new module and Samba 2.2.8a will enable even inexperienced Linux users to quickly network Linux and Windows systems, he said.
The updates DNS, DHCP, and Web servers for the home network will be easily be configured by means of graphical dialogs. The new XNTP module will allow the host to be synchronized with an atomic clock time server. Apart from the widespread Internet protocol IPv4, the next-generation IPv6 will also be supported.
Version 9.0 also will include User Mode Linux. This system enables users to host one or more complete Linux instances simultaneously. Experienced users can perform tasks like kernel debugging, virtual hosting, and security environments without endangering their running system.
Meanwhile, Dyroff said Linux usage was still growing and taking share from the traditional Unix operating systems rather than from Microsoft. Asked about Sun Microsystems Inc.s new Java Desktop System, he replied that this was good for Linux and SuSE as "whatever helps us to have less Solaris and Windows in the market is good for us all."
Responding to Hewlett-Packard Co.s decision last week to indemnify its customersagainst any claims from The SCO Group for their use of Linux, Dyroff said this would help move those skeptical customers and those delaying Linux adoptions to the platform. But he reiterated SuSEs stance that users should not pay for a license from SCO for indemnification, saying the Lindon, Utah firm had "no case."
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