You may not be ready to welcome Linux onto your organizations desktops, but that doesnt mean that desktop Linux isnt ready for you.
eWEEK Labs reviewed Canonical Ltd.s Ubuntu 5.10 and Novell Inc.s SUSE Linux 10.0, both of which began shipping in October, and we were impressed by the maturity, polish and, yes, innovation that these Penguin banner bearers displayed.
Novells SUSE Linux has long been one of our favorite distributions. Release 10.0—the first from Novell to ship in freely available as well as boxed retail editions—impressed us enough with its completeness and usability to earn an Analysts Choice award.
Ubuntu 5.10, also known by the code name Breezy Badger, is the third in a line of Ubuntu releases that has grown to become one of the most prominent Linux distributions available on the strength of a solid foundation in Debian GNU/Linux and a tight focus on desktop usability.
SUSE Linux 10.0 doesnt match the breadth of precompiled software packages that are available for Ubuntu, nor does it equal Ubuntus flexible and well-integrated software management tools, but SUSEs superior overall polish makes it a better option for users unfamiliar with Linux or uninterested in working around Ubuntus few rough edges.
Both distributions are well worth further investigation, and both are available in LiveCD form, so you can take them for a spin on prospective hardware to get a feel for how well theyll suit your needs and support your hardware. If you find that these distributions dont fit the bill, check back in a few months—both SUSE and Ubuntu are on six-month release cycles. The SUSE team provides security updates for two years for each version, and Ubuntu releases receive security updates for 18 months.
The next version of Ubuntu, slated to ship next spring, is set to receive security updates for three years for desktop components and five years for core operating system and server software components.