Linux giant takes big steps at LinuxWorld, targets Microsoft
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German Linux giant SuSE will bolster its limited presence in the Linux desktop software market and enhance its substantial Linux server business with key announcements at LinuxWorld here this week.
At the show, SuSE will unveil the availability of SuSE Linux Office Desktop as well as SuSE Linux Openexchange Server and SuSE Linux Enterprise Server 8 based on UnitedLinux.
Like many other Linux desktop vendors, including Red Hat, Ximian and Xandros, SuSE will attempt to ensure compatibility with Microsoft Office and other technologies to make inroads into the desktop business.
The launch of SuSE Linux Office Desktop, the first result of SuSE's desktop initiative, is deemed significant because it enables users to run Microsoft Office as well as Sun StarOffice on the Linux desktop, executives said. The SuSE Linux Office Desktop assistant, for example, will control the installation of Microsoft applications, the printer configuration and the integration of network directories.
Microsoft continues to own the desktop market, with more than 93 percent share of the desktop OS market, according to IDC numbers from 2001. Initially, the success of the Linux desktop will depend heavily on its interoperability with Microsoft's desktop, server and Windows applications, one analyst said.
"I haven't seen anything that addresses all the compatibility issues," said George Weiss, a vice president at Gartner, noting that he expects initial deployment of Linux desktops to be on new PCs and few corporate sites to switch from Windows to Linux because of the cost of the conversion process. "It's more of an integration within existing environments. Users need to interoperate and send files back and forth with other Windows users."
SuSE Linux Office Desktop offers a SuSE system assistant known as YaST2 that automatically detects existing Windows 95/98/ME installations and submits a reallocation proposal of the existing hard-disk space and the Linux software to install. Using the partitioning tool Acronis OS Selector, IT managers can migrate to Linux without losing any data, even with a preinstalled Windows 2000/XP.
The software also offers Codeweavers CrossOver Office 1.3.1 that enables the utilization of Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint from Microsoft Office 97/2000 as well as Visio 2000 and other Microsoft applications on the SuSE desktop. For the first time, even IBM Lotus Notes can be utilized on a Linux client.
SuSE's Linux desktop also offers KDE 3.0.4 and GNOME 2.0 as graphical desktop environments.
SuSE also unveiled at LinuxWorld the availability of its OpenExchange server, which combines the company's enterprise server code with an e-mail server for a total workgroup solution. It will offer synchronization capabilities with Palm and Microsoft PocketPC environments.
Finally, SuSE also unveiled the availability of its first UnitedLinux server. Version 8 of the server--upon which much of UnitedLinux is based--was unveiled along with other UnitedLinux distributions last November.
The SuSE Linux Enterprise Server 8 runs on Intel and Advanced Micro Devices 32-bit and 64-bit processors. Enterprise Server 8 is also available for HP ProLiant servers, HP Itanium 2-based servers, Fujitsu Siemens Primergy servers and IBM's full line of xSeries, iSeries, pSeries and zSeries eServers.