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1/4/2006
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Novell Courts App Developers With OpenSUSE Effort

Novell aims to get developers and ISVs more involved with its SUSE Linux distro, offering up new code libraries and a public build server within a beefed-up version of its OpenSUSE development framework.

Novell plans to release early this year a public development framework and server build for openSUSE.

The framework will give third party ISVs and open source developers new resources and tools -- including code libraries and a public build server -- to streamline code and patch contributions to SUSE Linux, Novell said.

The framework will also enable developers to create packages and applications that run on Novell SUSE Linux or SUSE Linux-based distributions, the Waltham, Mass., company said.

Novell launched openSUSE.org last August. To date, the project has surpassed 13 million page views and 750,000 "verified" installations of SUSE Linux, the company said Wednesday.

It is similar in scope to Red Hat's open source Fedora project for developers. However, Novell claimed it is designed to be more targeted at end user adoption.

Currently, an early development build of SUSE Linux 10.1 is available at openSUSE.org and the first beta is expected in the near future. The software, code named Aukland, is an unsupported, open source preliminary edition of SUSE Linux that contains the latest development snapshot.

One consultant said SUSE Linux has traditionally been available in open source form but openSUSE.org provides a vendor-backed open source version, additional tools and resources and a single place for developers and users to aggregate.

"Everybody likes to have an alternative to Red Hat, and getting a free, authorized Linux distribution from Novell directly rather than from other sources is attractive," said Chris Maresca, senior partner in the Olliance Group, Palo Alto, Calif. "SUSE has always been popular with users, but Novell had been making it increasingly difficult to just download and install a copy, much like Red Hat has done. OpenSUSE is essentially capitalizing on the pent-up demand for a good, freely downloadable Linux distribution."

Novell's commercial platform, SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 10, is due to ship in 2006. Novell is steaming ahead on a variety of open source projects to drive forth its Linux agenda. The company currently sponsors Mono, Evolution, Hula and Beagle.

Another Linux partner said it is a good move for Novell to attract more attention to openSUSE but he doesn't expect it will drive much adoption.

"I do not view a corporate-run community distribution as being capable of having sufficient legs to meet the needs of a substantial market," said CJ Fearnley, chief technology officer of LinuxForce, a Philadelphia-based solution provider that backs Debian Linux. "It will help them and there will be some interest and many users will benefit. But it will probably become as popular as Fedora."

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