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Novell SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop 10
Of the four enterprise desktops, Novell appears to be the most serious alternative to Microsoft Windows. For almost a year now, Novell has been offering an enterprise-class Linux desktop that competes with Windows on many levels. However, as with other Linux desktops, SUSE suffers from a lack of drivers.
SUSE Enterprise Linux Desktop 10 ships with the Novell edition of OpenOffice. Novell's OpenOffice code abides with the open-source license and is certified to work with SUSE. As with StarOffice's Enterprise suite, Novell's OpenOffice can run Visual Basic macros. Although Novell's macro library does not cover all the VBA macros, many commonly used macros written for Excel and Word will run on SUSE.
In addition to macros, enterprise customers also face some file interoperability problems between Microsoft Office and OpenOffice. For instance, OpenOffice cannot read Microsoft Office 2007's new DOCX file format. Novell built translators in its OpenOffice edition so that it works with DOCX files. Like every open-source innovation, the translators are freely available, but the OpenOffice community has yet to adopt them.
SUSE Enterprise ships with Novell's Evolution e-mail client and an Exchange connector. When migrating from Outlook to Evolution, solution providers might encounter some problems transferring calendar and address book data over to Evolution. Integrating with old versions of Outlook has always been difficult because Microsoft has never simplified it.
SUSE Enterprise arrives with Mono, which is the open-source version of Microsoft's .Net framework and runtime. With Mono, .Net applications can run on SUSE. The Mono project recently unveiled a new .Net Visual Basic compiler, which allows developers to port over many Visual Basic applications to Linux. Because of the Mono integration, SUSE ships with iFolder, the Tomboy note-taking application and the F-Spot photo management application. IFolder allows users to share files on a peer-to-peer network. The iFolder server, which is free, automatically replicates documents on all desktops that are running the iFolder client. In addition, SUSE includes the Beagle search engine, which runs on Mono. The Beagle engine is a great tool for searching an entire desktop, including e-mail, instant messaging, music files and PDFs.
Novell made navigating through SUSE's Gnome desktops extremely cool. Users can rotate desktops on a 3-D cube. SUSE includes Samba, which allows users to authenticate to Active Directory. For extra security, SUSE arrives with Novell's security framework, which establishes normal behavior profiles for every desktop. Applications are quarantined whenever users try to do things outside a profile.
Novell is assisting partners with desktop installations and file migration services, including providing Level 1 through Level 3 support. Novell leaves it up to partners to select which level of support they want to provide, while it picks up other levels. For instance, Novell will do Level 2 and Level 3 support for partners that are only providing Level 1 support. With this multilevel flexibility, Novell is attracting large partners as well as small consultancies.
Like Linspire, SUSE has made software purchasing extremely easy. Right from the desktop, users can click on Novell's Customer Center link and select software they want to purchase. Since software installations are usually managed by administrators, solution providers can configure SUSE desktops so that software is dispatched through a central location.
Novell charges about $50 per seat per year for OS and software updates. Novell is also teaching partners to take advantage of some of the customization and configuration features in SUSE. Since customers spend about 90 percent less on Linux licenses than Windows licenses, partners are encouraged to sell deployment services using SUSE's various deployment options and features.