Novell Details Linux Product Road Map Following SUSE Acquisition

New capabilities in SUSE Linux will include additional authentication, extended support for Microsoft Outlook, Office, DB2 and SAP, additional developer tools, and improved security and scalability.
Novell's new SUSE Linux organization Tuesday detailed its product road map, including additional biometrics security capabilities in the next release of SUSE's Linux desktop product.

Oliver Nachtrab, director of product management at SUSE, said the next release of SUSE's Linux desktop will include additional support for fingerprint identification, ID cards and additional password protection. Novell SUSE executives detailed the product road map before several hundred partners at the SUSE Partner Conference. The conference precedes LinuxWorld, which is being held this week in New York.

The additional Linux desktop security features will make the product more attractive to government agencies, where Linux is seeing increased adoption rates, Nachtrab said.

The new desktop product is slated to be released in the second half of the year, he said, and the product is set for early beta in the February/March time frame.

The desktop offering will include extended Microsoft Office functionality and SAP support, he said.

SUSE is also working on a new software development kit for the desktop offering with additional compiler support.

On the enterprise front, SUSE is working on SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 9.0, with improved security and scalability, said Marcus Kraft, product manager for SUSE Enterprise Server.

And SUSE is planning to unveil a new offering in March with support for Outlook 2003, additional Oracle and DB2 support, extended instant messaging capabilities and new Linux PDA support for SUSE Openexchange, said Klaus Kaufmann, product manager for SUSE Openexchange.

Finally, SUSE is planning to beef up its virtualization capabilities with User Mode Linux, said Jurgen Geck, SUSE Linux CTO. The new virtualization capabilities will allow systems to run multiple Linux environments on the same system, Geck said. The virutalization will provide additional mainframelike scalability and flexibility to manage Linux server workloads, he said.

"It will be more manageable, fault-tolerant and highly available," Geck said.

User Mode Linux is already available, he said, but SUSE will provide it as an integrated easy-to-use "button" functionality within SUSE Linux Enterprise Server. SUSE is also working on a User Mode Linux software development kit, Geck said.

Solution providers here said Novell's recent acquisition of SUSE is significantly increasing the momentum of the SUSE products. "This is giving Linux a turbo boost," said Robert Kusche, general manager of DSG Linux Services, a Bellingham, Wash., IBM partner attending the SUSE Partner Conference. "At DSG, we are calling it the renaissance of Linux."

The product road map details are "fascinating from a technical point of view, but increased adoption will be driven by corporate acceptability, which is definitely increasing," Kusche said.

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