Novell Kick-Starts Desktop Linux Push - InformationWeek

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Novell Kick-Starts Desktop Linux Push

Desktop 9 includes Novell's edition of OpenOffice.org office productivity suite, the Mozilla Firefox Web browser, Evolution software for collaborating with Windows, and Zenworks Linux Management.

Novell on Monday took the wraps off its first desktop Linux operating system, a product that brings to fruition the company's August 2003 acquisition of Ximian Inc. and January purchase of SuSE Linux. Although Novell claims its strategy is to patiently build up a market for desktop Linux in the face of Microsoft's dominance, the company's Novell Desktop 9 includes several components that compete head on with Windows.

"Desktop Linux has to cohabitate with Windows today," says Ted Haeger, Novell's director of project management. In fact, the company projects it will take as long as five years before a desktop version of Linux is capable of displacing Windows in any significant way.

Desktop 9, which starts at $50 per desktop, includes Novell's edition of OpenOffice.org productivity applications, the Mozilla Firefox Web browser, Evolution software for collaborating with Windows, and Zenworks Linux Management. OpenOffice includes word-processor, spreadsheet, and presentation applications that create files compatible with Windows desktop applications. Evolution, a product originally developed by Ximian, integrates E-mail, calendaring, contact management, and task lists much the same way as Microsoft Exchange.

"We're asking companies to assess their desktop situation and find out if there's a place where desktop Linux fits," Haeger says. Users most likely to find Linux a strong substitute for Windows are those using fixed-function workstations that run a single application, such as airline reservation or point-of-sale systems. Other candidates would be workstation users or application developers.

Looking ahead, Novell wants to make use of its iFolder file-management software to improve desktop-to-desktop collaboration. The vision that Novell plans to unfold over the next six to nine months is one that will let people share files directly rather than through E-mail, Haeger says. Novell will in February include iFolder software as part of its Open Enterprise Server Linux-based operating system.

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