Bleeding-Edge Linux Desktop: SuSE Linux Professional 9.3

Review: The good and bad thing about the latest SuSE Linux Professional desktop is that it includes all the latest and greatest Linux add-on programs.

Novell Inc.s SuSE Linux Professional 9.3 desktop gives not only other leading Linux desktop distributions like Xandros a run for their money, but also enterprise desktops such as Windows XP Pro.

Nat Friedman, vice president of Linux desktop engineering at Novell, said, "We are getting ahead of Windows for the first time."

After kicking SLP 9.3s tires, I agree. This is one impressive desktop distribution. It has every Linux application that anyone is ever likely to want and its all tied together with either a slick and up-to-date KDE or GNOME interface.

It is not, however, for everyone and it also has its fair share of teething problems in its most advanced programs.

This is a Linux desktop for people who know Linux. No, it doesnt require the level of expertise that say the Ubuntu distribution does, but youre also not going to mistake SLP for such easy-to-use Linux distributions as Xandros, Linspire or even Novells own Novell Linux Desktop.

No, this is a distribution for someone who wants to push the limits of what you can do with a Linux desktop today.

/zimages/4/28571.gifClick here to read reviews of Fedora Core 4 and Debian 3.1.

In short, if youre a developer, a power users power user, or someone who needs to see what 2006s corporate Linux desktop is going to look like, this is the distribution for you.

In addition, if youre a reseller or integrator who wants to get a head start on where the Linux desktop is going, this distribution will be well worth your time.

SLP is built on top of the 2.6.11 Linux kernel and your choice of either the KDE 3.4 or GNOME 2.10 interface.

It also has the latest in Linux desktop software. This includes the Firefox 1.01 Web browser, the Novell Evolution 2.2.1 groupware client, and Adobe Reader 7 for Linux.

In addition, this distribution ships with a late beta of 2.0, the latest version of the popular desktop application suite; the VOIP (voice over IP) Linphone client; iPod compatibility; and the F-Spot photo-management program, open-sources answer to Google Inc.s outstanding Windows freeware Picasa 2.

If you dont happen to like those mainstay applications of the Linux desktop, SuSE also includes such popular programs as Epiphany 1.6 and Opera 7.54 for Web browsing, and AbiWord 2.2.4 for word processing.

Developers will also find a lot to like in SLP 9.3. It includes pretty much everything needed to write programs in C, C++, Java, Mono, Perl, Python, and a slew of other languages.

SLP though, is not a grab bag of cutting-edge Linux and open-source technologies. Its a well-integrated desktop with the most commonly used programs easily at hand.

/zimages/4/28571.gifRead eWEEK Labs review of SuSE Linux Professional 9.3 here.

It also works and plays well with Windows networks. My one quibble is that, unlike Xandros, connecting an SLP desktop to a Windows or Samba SMB (Server Message Block) resource such as a network drive or printer is a two-step operation.

First, you need to identify the resource by its fully qualified resource name. For example, on my network, I needed to recall that my main, common work drive is named trinity/j (server name/resource name), then I had to manually enter that information into the KNetAttach application before I could access the resource.

Its not a real problem, but pointing and clicking to achieve the same results in either Windows or Xandros is just easier.

Next page: Patches and installation.