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Novell Launches Linux on the Desktop

Novell today announced Linux Desktop 9, its first corporate enterprise Linux desktop product.

Powered by its SUSE Linux subsidiary, Linux Desktop 9 includes the usual suspects of the Linux desktop, including Mozilla's Firefox Web browser, the Gaim instant messaging client, the Novell Ximian Evolution Groupware client and the OpenOffice.org office suite.

The OpenOffice.org (OOo) version included with Novell's desktop is a Novell edition of the open source suite and includes a number of enhancements over the standard version.

It includes the AGFA fonts that Novell has licensed, which it claims have the same or similar names and are geometrically similar to fonts used by Microsoft's Office suite.

It also has an enhanced software quality over the standard edition, as it includes some back-ported fixes that improve Microsoft Office file sharing, as well as better Microsoft Excel function compatibility. It also preserves certain Microsoft Office macros, which are normally stripped out by OpenOffice.org.

As part of the overall tight integration of the desktop, Novel's OOo works more seamlessly with Evolution, allowing users to draw on the Evolution address book as a datasource for mail merges and e-mail.

The Novell Desktop also includes the AutoYaST Automated Installation Tool, and it integrates with Novell's ZENworks Linux Management solution. ZENwork is an enterprise deployment and management solution allowing for remote console-based deployment and maintenance.

"In recent years, the IT industry has been asking when Linux will be ready to take on the desktop," said Jack Messman, Novell chairman and CEO, in a statement. "Novell is focusing its enterprise desktop efforts on Linux deployments where users can gain the most benefit.

"Novell Linux Desktop is not about the wholesale replacement of your Windows systems, but rather it's about identifying where and when an open source desktop can be a sensible, cost-effective alternative. In our pragmatic view, the time is now for specific desktop users to reap the benefits of open source."

Novell Linux Desktop 9 is expected to be available starting on Nov. 12 through Novell channel partners at a price of $50 per system, which includes one year of updates. Novell's Linux competitor Red Hat launched its enterprise desktop in May.