March 10, 2005 1:00 PM PST

Novell to ship Xen in next Linux

The next version of Novell's SuSE Linux product, shipping in mid-April, will let users run multiple versions of the operating system simultaneously, the company said on Thursday.

The support for multiple instances of the operating system in SuSE Linux Professional 9.3 comes through software called Xen, an open-source package that competes with products from Microsoft and EMC's VMware and has won big-name endorsements. Novell is adding the technology, which is useful for a number of tasks, to give programmers new abilities, said Greg Mancusi-Ungaro, director of marketing for SuSE Linux.

Xen provides a foundation called a virtual machine that an operating system thinks is a real computer. Running an operating system on such a foundation provides developers a painless way to test new software without risking damage to a primary computer. For example, they don't have to worry that a crash will corrupt essential system files.

However, Xen is still in fairly raw form. The software will be included with the Linux version but isn't installed by default, Mancusi-Ungaro said.

Novell announced the new Linux version at the CeBit trade show in Germany on Thursday. The cost in Europe--where SuSE Linux sales are strongest--will be 74 euros ($99), but U.S. pricing won't be set until closer to the product launch date, Mancusi-Ungaro said.

SuSE Linux Professional is geared for desktop computer tasks such as word processing, programming or playing digital videos. Novell hopes Windows users wanting to breathe new life into older computers will be interested.

Novell will offer a "Live DVD" version that can be run directly off a DVD drive to let people experiment with but not install the software. And about eight weeks after release, an installable version will be available for free download, Mancusi-Ungaro said.

SuSE Linux Professional 9.3 also adds the Linphone software for voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP); the Firefox Web browser; and the F-Spot photo organizer software. And it comes with the latest versions of graphical interface software, GNOME 2.10 and KDE 3.4.

The Professional product line changes more quickly and includes newer features than the company's premium product, SuSE Linux Enterprise Server, and its corresponding desktop version, Novell Linux Desktop.

Xen is "hypervisor" software that runs directly on a computer's hardware, managing operating system access to memory, input-output subsystem and other resources. So far, Xen only can run modified versions of Linux on x86 processors such as Intel's Pentium, but work is under way to extend it to other operating systems and processor domains.

Red Hat, the No. 1 Linux seller, also has begun adding Xen support to its Fedora version geared for Linux enthusiasts and programmers. The virtualization tasks Xen and its rivals must accomplish are expected to become easier with the arrival of new processor support from Intel in 2005 and Advanced Micro Devices in 2006.

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Disappointed
Novell is an awsome company that is breathing with new life from linux, but...

Linux is bloated enough with crapware. I don't want to see Linux distros getting bigger and bigger. In my opinion Novell's Desktop Linux is a good start.

For starters no more beta software in a Linux Distro like Suse Linux. Xen is great, but is it a production ready product. I know a lot of people think that linux by design is great for beta testing, but I'm not going to ask Mom and Dad to beta test software when they barely now how to use the computer.
Posted by System Tyrant (1453 comments )
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An interesting comment...
Considering the state of the Windows desktop!
Beta-level software on Linux is an entirely
different animal. It's all relative.
Posted by Johnny Mnemonic (374 comments )
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Linux bloated?
You must be confusing linux with XP.

A basic linux install is smaller then an XP install. That includes the kernal, tcp/ip stack and other components needed to operate hardware. It does not include non-OS apps like browsers, chat clients, and media players. If you are referring to the ~4+ other CD's that often come in a distro, you are confusing software with the OS. Those 4 other disks has nothing to do with linux, other then they run on it. They are not part of the OS, and each program is totally optional.

Linux is not hard to run at all. The basic setup in SuSe is perfect for a unknowledgable computer user. As for beta software, XP is still beta quality, at best.
Posted by Bill Dautrive (1179 comments )
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Good New!
Its about time Novell Marketing got off their butts and started doing something. There have been at least 3 articles on Novell-Issues on the CNET sites in the last week. As someone who has worked with Novell products and brands for over 11 years.. we need this. They have superior products to this microsoft garbage.. yet they cant seem to get any MARKETING people, so everyone still thinks novell is dead.

As for the SuSe distribution, Novell and the SuSe team have done a great job with the yAst installation and yOu update tool. You can also do a full net install and end up with a base Linux distr of less than 500mb. Show me any windows version that will install with less than 4G of bloatware. Oh yeah.. in Linux when you choose not to install something, you dont install it. In Windows, you choose not to install it, microsoft puts in on for you anyway and then doesnt give you a shortcut.. whoo hoo! (Take Outlook.. prime example.. you can get outlook virus without ever installing or using it, even during setup, becuase MS made it a dependency for IE (Which was unable to be removed from windows.. but now that Firefox is stealing its marketshare the magic engineering staff have found a way.. wow.. what a surprise) so its still there.. ready to be exploited.

I dont know if the regular person is ready to change to Linux yet.. even as a engineer there are still many time i need to use Windows to do my job because linux cant support something (Hey Novell.. how about a damn netware client for Linux????????) but its a lot closer than it was.. and is now a very viable alternative to a monopoly driven, bloated, hand tied operating system
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