SuSE Linux Drops StarOffice

Instead the German-based Linux vendor is opting for the free OpenOffice alternative.

German-based SuSE Linux is the latest vendor to drop Sun Microsystems Inc.s branded StarOffice 6.0 desktop productivity suite in favor of the free OpenOffice alternative.

SuSE on Tuesday confirmed to eWEEK that it had decided not to include StarOffice 6.0 in SuSE Linux 8.1, the latest version of its Linux operating system for personal and business computers.

This move follows Suns announcement in March that it intended to charge users for StarOffice 6.0.

Holger Dyroff , who heads SuSEs U.S. operations, told eWEEK on Tuesday that cost was the primary factor in its decision not to include StarOffice with SuSE Linux 8.1 Personal Edition. The company has also switched to OpenOffice for the Professional Edition as "this is our offering for the very technical Linux power user."

"They want a license-free, open-source based product. They are not interested in support from Sun or in the branding. SuSE also has to be aware of costs and if demand for a product is not there, we dont do it, as is the case here," he said.

SuSEs move follows the decision by leading Linux distributor Red Hat, Inc. to not use StarOffice in any of its future distributions, not just because of the charge but also as it included non open-source technologies.

SuSE Linux 8.1 Personal and Professional will be available on October 7, and includes the free 1.0.1 desktop productivity suite.

For those users who want Suns branded and supported StarOffice product, SuSE is making this available to them as a separate offering, known as SuSE Linux Pro-Office, for $24.95. "This is much cheaper for them than the $79.95 retail price of the product, and it includes StarOffice 6.0, KDE 3.0.1 and SuSE Linux 8.0 patches," Dyroff said.

That is in addition to the recommended retail price of $39.95 for SuSE Linux 8.1 Personal and $79.95 for SuSE Linux 8.1 Professional. Going forward, SuSE intends to continue to offer Pro-Office at an additional charge for these products, he said.

But as SuSE targets specific versions toward the home and home office user, who want Sun support for StarOffice and where branding is more important, StarOffice will be integrated into the operating system, he said.

"We are looking at a per client license here anyway because of the other things we are bundling in that allow users to run products like Microsoft Office 2000 on Linux. The cost of StarOffice will be built into the base price of that home office Linux version," Dyroff said.

While he was reluctant to talk too much about this new home office version of Linux, he said it was likely to be released before the end of the year.

SuSE Linux 8.1 includes the YaST2 (Yet another Setup Tool) system assistant that allows users to complete the installation in less than 30 minutes, Dyroff said. The updated hardware detection also automatically integrated the latest USB2.0 devices and Firewire devices, he added.

"Only a mouse click is necessary to set up printers, sound cards and TV cards. YaST2 now provides a module for the configuration of special hardware components, such as joysticks. Even output devices, such as touch screens, vertical LCDs, 3D solutions and multi-head systems can be configured," he said.

The new system profile manager, SCPM (SuSE Configuration Profile Management), facilitates the easy management of multiple system configurations. And SuSE Linux users who commute between different locations can now use local peripherals, such as printers or scanners with a single click.

Laptop users will also find improved wireless LAN support that can be easily configured, while data encryption with WEP (Wired Equivalent Privacy) provides maximum security in wireless LANs, Dyroff said.