Novell to Combine Best of KDE and Gnome

Novell CEO reveals that the company plans on creating a best-of-breed Linux desktop by combing Gnome and KDE's top features.

SALT LAKE CITY—Novells Linux-oriented divisions, Ximian and SuSE, will work together to make one common Novell Linux desktop from Gnomes and KDEs best features, Novell Inc. CEO Jack Messman revealed in an interview at the companys annual BrainShare trade show here.

Ximian has been the main power behind Gnome, while SUSE has been KDEs chief backer. Supporters of the two interfaces have often sparred with each other in flame wars on Slashdot, mailing lists and newsgroups.

KDE supporters insisted that Bruce Perens, an open-source leader and founder of the UserLinux initiative, include KDE as well as his choice of Gnome for the initiatives desktop interface. Reasoning that the business community would want a single desktop choice, Perens eventually decided to incorporate KDE as well.

Messman said, "Our customers are creating the demand for a Linux desktop, and theyre telling us they want one interface. So, were going to migrate to a single Linux desktop."

Working together, SUSE and Ximian have the programming muscle to accomplish the task, Messman said.

But the move is not an attempt to merge the two interfaces, said Chris Schlager, vice president of research and development for SUSE.

"Technically, you cant combine them, but we are working toward having the best features of both in a single interface. Well implement all the best features in one technology."

Schlager added that he thinks the conflict between KDE and Gnome developers has been overstated. "The developers really dont fight; its their supporters who fight, he said.

"You wont see a lot of that SuSE Linux Desktop 9.1 or SuSE Linux Enterprise Server (SLES) 9.0. Its not clear what the name will be, but youll see the first major results of this effort in the next versions of SUSE Linux, which will be released toward the end of the year."

In the meantime, "the work has already started," Schlager said, with the Ximian Desktop 2.0 being merged into the SuSE Linux Desktop 9.1. As for potential conflicts, he said simply, "I dont think turf wars will happen here."

While the company will continue to put out the SUSE Linux desktop, it sees the biggest growth in the near future happening with thin client hardware and software, Messman said.

"This will lower the cost of Linux desktop," he said, adding that the "cost savings will be the significant driver. This wont happen overnight. When corporations need to renew their software licenses or upgrade their hardware for a new update, these customers will see Linux as an option."

The approach, Messman said, is "not that much different from Suns approach with Java Desktop System and Sun Ray." But Novell, he noted, has its own Linux and can offer a complete Linux stack from the enterprise server to the desktop.

"When you have tight integration between desktop and server, you have a very powerful solution," he said.

He said he thinks the ability to offer customers a complete, soup-to-nuts solution will be a valuable addition. "Weve learned our lesson from Microsoft."

SLES already has thin-client support, a feature Schlager said has often been overlooked. Now, Novell is playing up such features.

At BrainShare, IBM is already demoing Linux Retail Solution, a thin client for point of sale (POS) devices based on SLES 8.0.

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