March 9, 2006 11:52 AM PST

Novell hopes its next desktop will leapfrog Windows

Novell on Thursday unveiled the features that will be available in the next version of its Linux desktop product--Suse Linux Enterprise Desktop--which the company claims will be more usable than any other desktop product on the market.

"We have made a big investment taking the Linux desktop past everybody. The usability work we've done is not to reinvent Windows, but to reinvent a better desktop," Greg Mancusi-Ungaro, Novell's director of marketing for Linux and open source, told ZDNet UK on Wednesday.

"When Microsoft Vista ships it will catch up to us in a number of areas, but we'll enjoy six months where Novell's Linux desktop is in the lead," he said.

The Suse Linux Enterprise Desktop (SLED), which will be available beginning this summer, is a "big change for Linux" as it is now suitable for all enterprise users, according to Mancusi-Ungaro.

"Up until now the Linux desktop has primarily been deployed in specialized circumstances--as a fixed-function workstation or as a transactional desktop," he said. "Now, for the first time, we can tell you with confidence that it can be deployed for general office workers."

Important new features in SLED include an animated user interface and integrated desktop search.

Other features that Novell is touting in the product include the addition of support for Microsoft Excel Macros and Pivot Tables in OpenOffice.org, and full support for all standard network and printing protocols, allowing plug-and-play functionality for cameras, USB (universal serial bus) drives, personal music players and printers.

The animated GUI (Graphical User Interface) takes advantage of the XGL graphics software, which Novell made available to the open-source community last month. The GUI makes the Linux desktop more usable, for example, by providing visual cues to users when they minimize windows, according to Mancusi-Ungaro.

"When users minimize windows to the panel at the bottom of the screen they will see it move there rather than vanish, so users are more aware of where they have put something," he said.

As for desktop search, although the Beagle tool is already available in Suse Linux Professional 9.3, this is the first time that Novell is offering seven years of support for the product.

Novell carried out hundreds of usability tests and shot almost 1,500 hours of user-interaction video to aid the design of SLED. It said that each feature of the product has been "rigorously tested and refined for usability to ensure the best possible performance in a business environment." The results of the usability tests can be viewed on Novell's Better Desktop Web site.

Ingrid Marson of ZDNet UK reported from New York.

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15 comments

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Comical
I think this guy Mancusi-Ungaro is hilarious. He's almost as good as that guy who was the spokesman for Iraq. Here he is saying that this new desktop is going to put them way ahead of everyone else... and then he presents the fantastically futuristic feature set that will do it: Excel Macros, animated windows, and desktop search. WOAH!!! SAY IT'S NOT SO!!! What??? There's more?? Yep, "full support for all standard network and printing protocols".... WOW!

You know, this is why Linux fails. When the ability to network and print are listed as advanced features, you know your OS is out of touch.
Posted by ss_Whiplash (143 comments )
Reply Link Flag
The point is...
To dumb down the press release for Windows biggots
like yourself. If he spoke about all the OpenGL
enhancements to the X-Windows foundation people
like yourself would be unable to concieve of what
that actually means. He simply relates the press
release to Microsoft's simplistic enhancements to
its latest release Vista. If you want detail, go
to their web site as well as the X.org website to
see what they have been doing.
Posted by Johnny Mnemonic (374 comments )
Link Flag
if it's new, then it's news
If these features were absent from previous versions, then it's worth noting them as new features. It's no different than brand-x soap putting "new and improved" on their box to market the cleaning abilities even if brand-y has already done it. If I use brand-y, I might consider using brand-x if I knew it would do the things brand-y does that I like.

I use windows but I still like to know I have alternatives and what they do. Every operating system has different features just like automobiles. Just because someone likes a particular model doesn't give them the right to insult someone who prefers another. You see, what is important to you in deciding what to get may not be the same reasons someone else bases their decisions on. I just wish that the zelots who post here would respect that.
Posted by Seaspray0 (9714 comments )
Link Flag
OH great....
More dependencies to worry about....

Why are networking and printing libraries part of the GUI anyhow???

Now Linux users will have to have 3 different desktop managers installed in order to ensure availability of all library dependencies.....

Not that the UI implementation in Linux isn't a major factor holding back the system's growth... but three incompatible user interface specifications is just crazy.
Posted by David Arbogast (1709 comments )
Reply Link Flag
You are extremely uninformed
What dependencies? Are you talking about X-Windows
which are standard across all distributions?
NO printer libraries are apart of the GUI. Where
did you get that? There is CUPS which provides a
portable printing layer for UNIX or Linux based
operating systems. Have you ever used Linux? I am
beginning to wonder if you are one of those
uninformed MS trolls that are paid to spread
dis-information about Linux. What is your agenda?
Posted by Johnny Mnemonic (374 comments )
Link Flag
Hope this isn't like SuSE 10.1 betas
If SuSE 10.1 beta 6 is anything to go by, then I hope this new Novell desktop improves on it when it comes out (is it just me or are Novell employing the classic MS tactic of talking about future OS releases that are many months away?). I found the SuSE beta to be quite buggy, particularly in the area of, yes, a brand new online updater that bizarrely runs a localhost server on port 3000 and was ludicrously flaky for me.
Posted by rklrkl (143 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Good for Novell!
Despite what negative attitude is being posted this will be a valid attempt to tame the Linux desktop.

** Linux is good for everyone (with the possible exception of M$ shareholders)

I hope they don't overhype the reality though... Open source is evolutionary rather than revolutionary...
Posted by UntoldDreams (91 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Dumb liberal mantra
Pro Choice--talk about boring!!
Posted by (50 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Dumb liberal mantra
Pro Choice--talk about boring!!
Posted by (50 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Novell should hope indeed...
... because they can never be sure. After seeing their screenshots... not better. Tsk, tsk, tsk...


:-p
Posted by Mendz (519 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Powerful Stuff!
"When users minimize windows to the panel at the bottom of the screen they will see it move there rather than vanish, so users are more aware of where they have put something,"

Good job! No other operating system has this ability. *rolls eyes*
Posted by Gasaraki (183 comments )
Reply Link Flag
RE: Powerful Stuff ! (you're an MS Shill right?)
I use Windows XP myself most of the time. But I have downloaded and checked out live versions of Linux and such, and I can tell you that the KDE Desktop in Linux (and I'm sure gnome, although been a long time since I checked that one out) have been minimizing to the taskbar for a long time, just like it does in windows. So I take it from this article that instead of just vanishing from the screen it moves there and minimizes - the intention being to show you where it's going, to simplify the desktop even more. Probably like for MCSE's and such. Hehe. Have you ever even looked at Linux to see what you're talking about before you make comments about it? By the way, what does Micro$oft pay to troll in forums these days? Might do it myself if it's decent money. Hehe. Just joking, would never Troll for them. *rolls eyes right back at ya*
Posted by SteveH (7 comments )
Link Flag
Bells and whistles- what really matters is....
That this desktop will out of the box authenticate as an active directory client and an edirectory client. And if all you windows diehards take note you'd have to spend approximately a grand or more on the windows packages to even have HALF of the capabilities this desktop comes with out of the box. Business capabilities- low cost subcsription management, and all the tools 95% of desktop users would ever need at a 10th of the price of a MS box. This will make serious headway in the business world.

Oh yea- I forgot to mention that every machine out there more than 1-1 & 1/2 years old will need to be upgraded or replaced to run the next version of windows. You know- the one we may see in 2007
Posted by (7 comments )
Reply Link Flag
 

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