This update is technically a point release, which are usually fairly minor upgrades. However, Charlie Ungershick, director of product management for the SuSE Linux business unit in Waltham, Mass., told eWEEK that this update is far more significant than a customary point release.
"We are pretty excited about it because there are many significant things in it. We also believe this will be the first really portable retail Linux box that supports the Linux 2.6 kernel, which we have been testing and back porting for a long time," he said.
"We have had no issues with the 2.6 kernel, which has been incredibly stable. In fact, SuSE Linux 9.0 even came with a test version of the 2.6 kernel," he told eWEEK in an interview.
The improvements and enhancements brought to this distribution by Version 2.6 of the kernel depend on the kind of applications users want, Ungershick said. "If you are looking to run a server, say a database or Apache Web server for your personal use, you will notice an immediate performance change over a comparably configured box or even the same hardware."
"The way 2.6 handles memory allocation and does the tasking, those type of server-based applications typically run anywhere between three and five times faster than on the prior kernel. So significant performance tuning and enhancement is evident for those kind of applications," he added.
For users of the desktop, Ungershick said there are also improvements in the way the operating system can now perform multithreading and multitasking. He said users will see a far more fluid experience for applications such as multimedia and other graphics-intensive tasks.
SuSE Linux 9.1 Personal will be targeted at novice users, curious about the OS, and consist of a pair of CDs, one of which is a "LiveCD" that will let a user boot up and run everything from the disk. The CD will automatically configure the users machine, and load all of the appropriate drivers and even files so the user can get to all of his existing data without modifying the existing installation, he said.
"The nice thing about this is that new users will be able to experience Linux without having to commit to changing any of the machines configuration. They wont actually have to install it on their machines.
"If they are happy with what they see, they can use the second CD, and the installation will take care of partitioning the Windows partition and allowing the user to build new files right next to Windows," Ungershick said.
The price, at $29.99—$10 less than SuSE Linux 9.0 when that shipped—will be very competitive for first-time Linux users or those wanting to move away from Windows, he said.