Novell: New SUSE desktop ready for enterprise desktops en masse

Novell: New SUSE desktop ready for enterprise desktops en masse

Summary: Referred to as SLED 10, Novell's SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop (version 10) was launched at CeBIT in Hanover, Germany today.  Infoworld's Elizabeth Montalbano reports that this isn't just any old version of desktop Linux.

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TOPICS: Linux
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Referred to as SLED 10, Novell's SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop (version 10) was launched at CeBIT in Hanover, Germany today.  Infoworld's Elizabeth Montalbano reports that this isn't just any old version of desktop Linux.  It's the one that Novell believes could easily displace Windows en masse in enterprises.  Wrote Montalbano:

Novell has introduced the next version of its desktop Linux OS, a release the company hopes will begin a "viral" migration from Windows in the next several years, said Jeff Jaffe, executive vice president and chief technology officer for Novell....Novell Suse Linux Enterprise Desktop 10 (SLED 10), launched at the Cebit conference in Hanover, Germany, is the first version of Novell's desktop Linux that is "good enough" for enterprises to replace Microsoft's Windows OS in more than just limited deployments, Jaffe said...."Our new SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop now meets the needs of the basic office worker," he said.

It may be that it meets the needs of the basic software worker.  But whether it will make the dent that desktop Linux has so far failed to make remains to be seen.  Desktop Linux in the enterprise faces several uphill battles.  The first of these is software support.  There are some software packages for which a Linux version exists.  For the ones that don't, there may be a Linux substitute.   But moving to such substitutes is easier said than done.  At the very least, they involve retraining of end users.  At the worst, there may be a legacy of data that has to be converted (or is better off being converted than not).  At the very worst, there is no substitute and the Windows version doesn't work in WINE (a Windows emulator for Linux).  This is one good reason, by the way, to move to application service provider-delivered applications like Salesforce.com.  Because they work in a browser, they're pretty much agnostic to operating systems.  

The other problem Desktop Linux has is that in the bigger picture of the total cost of ownership of a desktop or notebook system, the differences aren't that significant between Linux and Windows.  Most enterprises will pay for top-flight support no matter what software they have and operating system support is just one part of a system's total cost of ownership.  In addition to other software, there's support of the hardware too.  Mileage will vary.  But there will be some circumstances where a move to Linux cannot be justified from just a pure cost-benefit point of view.  Other benefits may have to be given more weight before it makes sense. 

Lack of a big Linux talent pool is also a problem.  Corporations are filled with experts who know every nook and cranny of Windows.  The number of these people who are also skilled in providing customer service to in-house users for Linux pales in comparison to the skilled desktop support teams for Windows.  I'm not saying there aren't great Linux experts out there who can't fill that role or that the existing Windows experts can't develop the same skills for Windows.  It's just one of the obstacles to overcome.   Another challenge for Linux is that Windows comes on almost every new computer.  Sure, you can toss it out and replace it with Linux.   But this stranglehold that Windows has on systems manufacturers gives Windows a distinct market advantage.

These aren't reasons that Linux shouldn't have success on enterprise desktops.  Let me repeat that.  Enterprise desktops.  This is a different category than all desktops on the whole.  Enterprises have unique needs.    These are just some enterprise market realities.  I've got Linux running on some systems here and I've always taken pride in being a multi-OS household.  But whether or not enterprises en masse are ready to bite the same bullet remains to be seen.  The first wave of enterprise-like adoption, if there is one, will most likely be in government situations where the use of open source software has been mandated.  I'm looking forward to getting a copy of SLED 10 and putting it on a few systems here.  Whenever I get around to that, I'll let you know how things work out.

Related: Although motivated by different news, ZDNet blogger Paul Murphy makes some similar points about desktop Linux in businesses.

Topic: Linux

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26 comments
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  • This is the year od Deaktop Linux,, again...

    and again, and again....
    No_Ax_to_Grind
    • Hey, got a question...

      WTF is "od Deaktop"?
      Linux User 147560
  • WOW - and in Seattle IBM brings Linux to Microsoft Developers

    I think this news more significant than Origami. This is owing to Vista, which to my suprise didn't make it into the long range plans where I work.

    In "Art of War" you learn that the best level of battle to a win is at the planning stage of your adversary. When you attack plans you can win battle much easier. An attack of plans might involve secrecy and missinformation as well as phantom products announced with no real intention of deployment that disuade the implementers from adapting new ways. It can also be through cost justification.

    Lets recognize that Vista is a 1.0 effort. This means most who have suffered through 1.0 software products are going to skip this generation and those who are good at planning just will not be putting it on the 5 year plan, this year.

    On the other hand Linux is almost as proven as Java, with the only drawback being that some products do not run on it, the most prevelant being Word and Excell.

    The rest of this story is out of Massachusets, one of the first states to bring antitrust charges up on Microsoft and the state whose CIO lost his job recently owing IMO to influence peddling in the state. They are sticking with Open Source, nonetheless, which likly means using the free Star Office for government development work.

    It is hard to justify a subscription to Visa and the cost of a Microsoft suite of products these days at a government organization because the old justification - ease of integration, no longer holds up to due dilligence.

    With Microsoft supporting so many flavors of Vista and Windows it takes a company like Novell to provide software for the Enterprise, like ZenWorks, GroupWize and Novell Directory Services, just to ensure that an all-Windows shop works.

    On March 15 Seattle is being treated by IBM to Red Hat's flavor of Linux. IBM has ensured its future as Novell has by putting bets on Linux and Java while doing their best to make those old Microsoft products, and new ones, at least adequate. Of course the developers attending will be on Microsoft's list. (ha ha) It will be a proud list, with my name on it.

    FYI, Paul Allen's Origami Computer will run Linux. His opinion of Alchin (Vista executive) must be the same as Judge Jackson's. The man is a lier and his lies can be measured by the "Bush"el. Damn that Abramoff stuff is interesting. As PortGate went so will Microsoft. It is a Flat Flat World.

    Frank L. Mighetto CDP
    mighetto
  • OEM's

    <i>Another challenge for Linux is that Windows comes on almost every new computer. Sure, you can toss it out and replace it with Linux. But this stranglehold that Windows has on systems manufacturers gives Windows a distinct market advantage.</i>

    Actually, it is getting somewhat better. Dell now sells desktops without an operating system, and workstations with RedHat installed. In addition it will install any Linux distribution in custom orders of 50 or more.

    http://www.desktoplinux.com/news/NS3822185143.html
    Eduardo_z
  • Novell: New SUSE desktop ready for enterprise desktops en masse

    David hits the good points again of why linux is not ready for the enterprise desktop. You got it exactly right when you mention software support. I'm not talking about paying the company money phone support when the application blows up, I'm talking about the applications themselves. Enterprises will use specialty apps. I've worked at several enterprises and have yet to see any equivalent of these specialty apps in linux. Saying to upper management that you can use wine but it might break in the next version won't cut it. Until those issues get worked out and linux has the applicaitons that people need to work in the enterprise its as good as turning your computer into the 15 pound paperweight on the desktop.
    Loverock Davidson
    • fud story backed up by....

      You guessed it the fudmasters of the ZDnet forums.
      Face it you old relics, Linux has big money backing from deep pockets and there are perfectly fine Desktop versions more then suitable for business, who will know that for now, no ones playing GAMES on company time. On something like Xandros you can run a few legacy apps while you train people to use open office and other apps for business. This won't be any different then a windows upgrade which will break apps without a doubt. (think Vista the newest beta Gates will foist on people)
      Network Support
      • Sorry "Network Support" but...

        Your confidence in Linux and your lack of knowledge of Windows is frightening. I've seen only a SMALL handfull of apps that don't work from version to version of Windows. I'm not sure what goofy apps you deal with, but I even have DOS apps that still work under XP.

        Now Linux...hmmm...now there is an OS where things break from version to version. Whats worse, you have a severe lack of support to get things working or patched too.

        Don't get me wrong, I would give anything for a stable, easy to use, backwards compatible version of Linux that can actually do what I need it to do...but I have a box full of linux versions and software that just can't hold a candle to Windows yet.

        I also understand that the server market is different. Linux servers are awesome. However, this article is not about servers, its about workstations. Linux still lags behind Windows by far.
        ExploreMN
    • Scary...

      I rarely find myself in agreement with Lovey, but in his defense even a broken clock is right twice a day. Development tools for Linux are a major area of weakness for Linux. I'm not talking frameworks or libraries or APIs, I'm talking tools. There are a couple of decent Java tools on Linux, but until there is something with the ease of use Visual Basic users enjoy there will never be the kind of small-shop development on Linux as there is on Windows. Whether you see that as good or bad is irrelavent, it simply is a fact of life.
      jasonp@...
    • I hate to say this...

      ...but I agree with you on this one. As an applications developer, I find it difficult to re-code my windows-only application stack.

      I will say, however, that I am commited to devloping for Linux and am actively researching cross-platform development tools. So far, I find Eiffel Studio to be the most interesting:
      https://www.eiffel.com/products/studio/

      It's a shame that Sybase doesn't see the opportunity to make PowerBuilder cross-platform (again). I'm sure they will, once I re-write application stack! ;)
      Spikey_Mike
  • Salesforce.com stockholder???

    "This is one good reason, by the way, to move to application service provider-delivered applications like Salesforce.com. Because they work in a browser, they're pretty much agnostic to operating systems."

    NO...this is a good reason to move to a browser-based application. Which is not the same as an ASP-hosted application. Salesforce, for one, has demonstrated quite well the reasons for hosting it yourself. I'm sure David is smart enough to know that browser-based apps can be hosted in-house...but it seems he's got some reason to keep pushing Salesforce.com. But why?
    Techboy_z
  • Speed-boot and Linux.

    Building by modules gives OSS (desktops) a great opportunity to be loaded [i]x-times faster than Windows[/i].

    [b]Substantiation[/b]:

    It?s hard to be a master of all trades without a long chain of education ? for Linux it means that at least from the beginning you won?t use all programs and extensions.

    For example ? Networking, Internet, Bluetooth, etc. can be specified to be loaded AFTER the DESKTOP is ready in the background and only if it was specified.

    It means you can boot your computer in a few seconds and then add additional programs/extensions in order you need to use them.

    E.g. ? after a speed boot you can work with a Word processor while Networking, Internet, Bluetooth, etc. are not loaded and were not requested.

    Same module-principle need to be done for ALL OSS applications ? after the double click on an application ? it starts the vital basic (it needs to be an option to be specified) that LETS YOU TO WORK IMMEDIATELLY.

    If you need more features right away ? it downloads in according to the priorities of your request.

    If you did not request the features ? they are downloading (if it was specified) in background without noticeable interactions with your work.

    Windows doesn?t and won?t have this luxury (at least as well as it can be done with OSS).

    [b]P.S.[/b] The above-like trick let optimized Windows 95 with Pentium 66 to run the same apps (a few) faster than Pentium 233 (if you know how to unload the apps you don?t need ? e.g. JUST [u]specific[/u] installation of Win95 [u]without IE[/u] boosts the PC performance on 16% = think about the advantages Linux can and should have over Windows).
    Vily Clay
  • WINE

    wine is NOT a windows emulator for linux...

    http://www.winehq.org/site/myths
    doh123
  • The real reason Linux fails

    No matter how you slice it, Linux fails because installing software and/or drivers requires extensive knowledge of the operating system. In Windows it is a no brain activity that any moron can do. Until they get to that level of user friendliness, they will NEVER take a dent out of the Windows market.

    I haven't tried Suse 10, but version 9 was just like most other flavors of Linux. Just to install something as stupid and simple as a instant messenger was a joke. Let alone doing something as easy as putting a shortcut on the desktop or in the program menu.

    I would guess Linux won't even be close to being a Windows replacement for many MANY years. At least at the rate they are going.
    ExploreMN
    • Negative red rider the pattern is full...

      "[B]No matter how you slice it, Linux fails because installing software and/or drivers requires extensive knowledge of the operating system.[/B]"

      In the instance ot SuSE (which this article is about) this is a falsehood. Unless you are using some really exotic hardware or wireless (I will give you wireless is a pita...) hardware support and drivers have not been an issue for some time. Same goes for software. Unless you are using some odd package that .01% of the Linux users out there use, rpm and YaST are your friend.

      "[B]I haven't tried Suse 10, but version 9 was just like most other flavors of Linux.[/B]"

      I wrote this reply with OpenSuSE 10.0, my Toshiba Laptop is running OpenSuSE 10.1 Beta just fine. The 9 series of SuSE started great with SuSE 9.0 (Last version developed and deployed by the Germans) the 9.1, 9.3 versions were developed by the Americans at Novel and sucked. The 10.0 and 10.1 versions rock, try before you bash.

      "[B]Just to install something as stupid and simple as a instant messenger was a joke.[/B]"

      How hard is it to open YaST2 and select Kopete, or Gaim or whatever other IM you want then follow the prompts? If you can't do this, then it's no wonder you are having problems with Linux! At least the SuSE version.

      "[B]Let alone doing something as easy as putting a shortcut on the desktop or in the program menu.[/B]"

      Click on icon in menu, drag to desktop, select link. Done shortcut to desktop complete. Edit Menu, although I will add this caveat in that if it's not a SuSE packaged binary it generally won't put it in the menu. This is more the package creators failure. So in one way yes this can be a pita as well, BUT if you have a basic understanding of your OS as most users should then finding the executable and adding it to your menu should be pretty easy.

      All in all I find your post to be BS. I have several clients that are running their businesses off of SuSE Linux now, and have been for over a year in several cases. All it takes it patience to train them and set it up. And if you take the time to learn the system as an admin (which I would assume you are if you are posting here) then set-ups are not a real issue for you.

      I find this FUD about how Linux cannot and will not and is not ready for the desktop really quite annoying. I have private home users using Linux as their primary desktop and SMB's using Linux for their desktops with FreeBSD severs on the back side.

      One of them just aced the technical (PC and network set-up / security) side of her HIPPA compliance inspection to boot, guess what she is running... FreeBSD on the server side and SuSE 10.0 Professional on all of her desktops (9 desktops and 3 laptops). Courtesy of me.
      Linux User 147560
      • Sorry blue rider...

        Most businesses I know tend to have users that more or less manage their desktop. Perhaps in your company you can afford to hire a dedicated IT staff, but in most smaller companies that is not an option.
        ExploreMN
        • I am an independant contractor

          generally hired to set-up, train and maintain several systems for several clients. My clients range from small medical clinics to physical therapy clinics over to agricultural brokers and large scale farms.

          Also once these systems are in place and stable I find they do not want anything changed. This is also true of my Windows based clients. Why? Because they have what they need to get the job done and change generally means extra costs as well as a potential in lost productivity. The only time I get change requests is if there is a new HIPPA requirement that has to be met or a security update that affects a client system.

          I am the IT department for them. And I have to say that my Linux clients are by far the easiest to take care of on many levels.
          Linux User 147560
    • Incentive to learn Linux

      "Lack of a big Linux talent pool is also a problem. Corporations are filled with experts who know every nook and cranny of Windows."

      It seems that Windows experts are dime a dozen now while Linux experts are rare. Shouldn't that give you an incentive to learn Linux based OSes?
      SGT_Spam
    • One more thing red rider...

      this article is addressing business desktops, not home use. So your arguments are even more futile, because if a business is going to deploy Linux solutions, you better believe they will have the support staff to take care of the initial issues that could arise. Also if a piece of software needs to be installed, the user is not supposed to do this. SO the ability to install software is a red herring in this context of use!

      Any new software to be installed will be installed by the IT staff, not the end user. As for IM on a business machine, not unless it's required by the company.

      So in essence, again keeping in context with the article and the fact that it's targeting BUSINESS desktops, NOT home users, your arguments fall flat on their face. And in the context of home users... they fall on thier knees.
      Linux User 147560
      • Let's not forget the mindset...

        ... Windows environments traditionally allow the end-user to be the local admin. Some (most?) of those prized applications won't run in a properly configured manner.

        Requiring the IT staff to properly configure and administer the desktop systems would be a (perceived) burden. If the CIO can be shown that this short-term 'problem' can turn into long-term stability, then I think we may have a chance in cleaning up the bot-net mess. Have you checked your IDS logs recently? Full of compromised Windows boxes knocking on my door.
        Spikey_Mike
    • sadly, I agree

      I'm going to have to agree 110% with Stellar on this one.

      One of my users today wanted some tips on setting up his brand new (XP Pro SP2) laptop. One call from him was about graphics drivers. I told him where to go and what to do (download, click, restart basically).

      I just did the same thing with Mepis Linux, a very highly touted "Desktop" Linux and after 2 hours ended with a text-only booting machine.

      Yes, I know I have to go reconfigure X to get the settings right and then try the ATI driver installation again, but compare what I had to do to what my user had to do...download, click, reboot.

      You surely cannot look at something as basic as graphics driver installation and say that it doesn't apply equally to home or business use.

      You can't say that requiring an average user to run command line operations, edit text files, and know where config files are needed is acceptable as a "Desktop" system.

      For that matter, you can't even say that it's acceptable for an IT Staffer/Guru/Pro/Linux Master to have to do that and be able to call it "ready" for the Desktop.

      That's like saying "Yes, Linux is ready for the Desktop (as long as you have your IT staff run the setup for you beforehand).

      I love Linux and have used it server-side for YEARS now and wouldn't switch to anything else. I've tried using it on the Desktop dozens of times since RedHat 4.2 and it's still "not ready".

      I wish it was, I really, really do. :(
      BobMalooga