Revisions Extend Linuxs Reach

SuSE Linux Office Desktop makes a strong showing but needs fit and finish, key missing functionality.

Theres a strong argument to be made that all the pieces needed for an effective Linux desktop system for the enterprise now exist. Less clear, however, is whether a Linux vendor can collect and package those elements into something thats ready—right out of the box—for the mainstream corporate desktop.

This is what SuSE Linux Inc. set out to do with its SuSE Linux Office Desktop. Although eWeek Labs found the SuSE product makes a strong case for desktop Linux, a substantial amount of work remains to be done—particularly in general fit and finish and key missing functionality, such as VPN (virtual private network) support—before Linux Office Desktop can claim parity with Windows-based systems.

SuSEs Linux Office Desktop, which began shipping last month, is based on Version 8.1 of the companys very good Linux distribution, to which SuSE has added software from CodeWeavers Inc., for limited Windows application compatibility; Sun Microsystems Inc.s StarOffice productivity suite; and Acronis Inc.s OS Selector, with which users can resize NTFS (NT File System) partitions to install SuSE Linux alongside Windows XP. Without the Acronis software, only file allocation table, or FAT, 32 partitions can be resized, so installing SuSE and Windows XP on the same disk would require setting up separate partitions first.

SuSE Linux Office Desktop ships with Version 2.4.19 of the Linux kernel and installs KDE (K Desktop Environment) 3.0.4 as its default desktop environment. We could also opt for GNOME (GNU Network Object Model Environment) 2.0.

The $129 system is among the best desktop Linux systems available and one that permits a measure of backward compatibility to the Windows world. Its also a pretty good deal, considering the licensing costs for the CodeWeavers, Sun and Acronis applications with which its bundled.