March 18, 2004

SUSE's latest release announcement shows Novell influence

Author: Robin 'Roblimo' Miller

The press release announcing the upcoming SUSE 9.1, based on the 2.6 kernel, was headed, "Novell Releases First Commercial Linux Featuring 2.6 Kernel." The new version certainly sounds nice -- we can hardly wait to get our hands on a copy -- but what struck us first were several points in the press release itself, including more mention of Gnome than we've ever seen from SUSE before.We can't all run out today and buy SUSE 9.1; it's not expected in stores until late April or early May. But it sounds like it might be worth waiting for. According to Novell, it runs on both 32- and 64-bit microprocessors, and includes a LiveCD, a la Knoppix or Mepis, so you can test it from your CD drive before deciding to do a full install.

According to the press release, here are some of the benefits you can expect from SUSE 9.1 with the latest kernel:

The new 2.6 Linux kernel enables the efficient distribution of hardware
resources, for example guaranteeing high-quality music and video performance
even as other applications are started and run simultaneously. The DMA mode
also accelerates CD and DVD burning. The Advanced Linux Sound Architecture
(ALSA), which is spearheaded by Novell's SUSE LINUX business unit, is now an
integral component of kernel 2.6. ALSA supports most common sound cards and
provides diverse audio functions. Kernel 2.6 boasts an improved ACPI
(Advanced Configuration and Power Interface) implementation, enabling
more efficient power management and extending battery operation time for

On the desktop/appearance front, here's the boast about Gnome 2.4 -- and of course, the big news here is that this is the first time SUSE has actively pushed Gnome:

The newest GNOME desktop emphasizes usability and user comfort while
delivering key new features to Linux users such as CD-burning capabilities, a
universal instant messaging client (Gaim), simplified printing configuration
(via CUPS), and many other configuration improvements. Specific new GNOME
applications include GNOME Meeting video conferencing system, a full-featured
video conferencing protocol which supports most video conferencing standards,
and Evolution, the award-winning groupware suite featuring GPG support, SSL
connectivity for added security, and inline spell checking. In addition,
significant accessibility improvements have been made. The new Gnopernicus
accessibility framework facilitates desktop access by both blind and
low-vision users, as well as provides tools that allow disabled users to
manipulate the desktop.

Of course, Gnome 2.6 is scheduled for release on March 25, well before the new SUSE. Presumably there will be a Gnome update available for SUSE 9.1 soon after it's out.

Although Gnome is listed ahead of KDE in the press release, KDE still gets a nice blurb:

The latest version of KDE, version 3.2.1, includes more than 10,000
improvements, making it the fastest, most stable KDE yet. Included among the
upgrades, the new personal information manager Kontact now presents a uniform
interface for e-mail, calendar, address book, and notes. The instant messenger
Kopete permits quick contacts through MSN, AIM, ICQ, IRC, Yahoo Messenger, and
Jabber. In addition, there is integrated spell checking for Web forms and
email messages, and functionality of the file manager and Web browser
Konqueror have been expanded. With Konqueror, Internet Explorer bookmarks can
be imported, and users can quickly browse through image directories, network
folders and network services, rip audio CDs, and read the contents of digital
cameras and USB sticks. Kwallet serves as a central storage for passwords and
access information. The music manager JuK enables the smart and intuitive
management of large music archives.

As always, SUSE includes plenty of software -- more than any one user will ever need. We've had great results using YAST2 in previous SUSE versions to manage software downloads and installations, so anything that's not included ought to be easy to get, assuming it's available in a SUSE-friendly RPM package.

For pricing, let's go back to the press release:

The recommended retail price of SUSE
LINUX 9.1 Personal (two CDs, installation guide, 30 days of installation
support) is $29.95. SUSE LINUX 9.1 Professional (five CDs, two double-sided
DVDs, user guide and administration guide, 90 days of installation support)
is $89.95. The update edition of SUSE LINUX 9.1 Professional is $59.95.

We hope to have a prerelease review copy in our hands in a week or so.


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