OpenLinux Workstation 3.1 is the latest release of Caldera's Linux-based desktop operating system. In what appears to be a shift in focus from its user-centric eDesktop 2.4, Caldera seems to be targeting its workstation distribution directly at the developer market by adding a wide variety of development tools to its already solid desktop configuration, making this latest version well-suited for corporate in-house development.
The distribution is packaged with programs and utilities specifically designed to enable Linux developers to create commercial, open source, or corporate applications. It facilitates the creation of applications that conform to an open standards environment, including the proposed Linux Standard Base. Developers can use the included Java, C, or C++ development tools to create scalable applications. OLW's C environment consists of the GNU C and C++ compilers (at the 2.5.2 revision level), and the 2.2.1 GNU C Library. Also included are PERL 5.6.0, Python 1.5.2, and Forte, an integrated set of tools for developing database-aware Web applications. And an optional CD-ROM included with the boxed product provides the 64-bit Caldera OpenLinux EAP (Early Access Product) for Itanium Processors for those developers wishing to develop for that platform.
OLW supports a virtually endless variety of hardware devices, including nearly all of the newer graphics adapters available, numerous network interface cards, and dozens of sound cards. Many USB devices such as mice and keyboards are also supported, and support for Firewire-standard devices is growing. You can verify the compatibility of expansion cards (including SCSI host adapters, sound cards, video cards, and so on) compatibility is easily verified via Caldera's Web site.
Unlike its sibling OpenLinux Server 3.1, which requires a Pentium II processor at minimum, OLW will run on a 200MHz Pentium. Furthermore, because the product is specifically designed to be a workstation and not a server, it does not include many server components found on its server-oriented counterpart. For example, it will function by default only as a DHCP client, not a DHCP server. Since some development work involves interacting with a Web server, OLW also includes version 1.3.19 of Apache Web server.
OLW is extremely easy to manage. In addition to shell-level access through SSH, OLW permits remote administration through its Webmin module. Webmin is a secure, browser-based interface that lets you easily configure most of OLW's software and underlying hardware from any networked machine with a Web browser.
In addition, OLW includes the Volution Agent--a module that communicates automatically with Caldera Volution on a local area network. (Volution is a separate product that lets you manage Caldera Linux systems remotely.) The Volution Agent can be helpful in corporate environments with numerous Linux systems, in that software updates can be downloaded just once from Caldera, and then distributed to networked Linux systems from via Volution.
Although OLW 3.1 is targeted primarily at developers, it also includes a fully equipped KDE desktop environment for those who wish to run Linux as a corporate desktop. The stock distribution of OpenLinux includes KDE 2.1 with KOffice 1.0 and other productivity apps. Also included is Sun Microsystems' StarOffice suite version 5.2.
If technical support is required, a support option can be purchased with the distribution, bringing OLW's price to $99, rather than the $59 base price. This support consists of 60 days of basic installation and configuration support via e-mail. Above and beyond basic level, support is priced and contracted from Caldera separately. Caldera OpenLinux Workstation is a well-designed distribution tailored to the needs of corporate developers. Its stability and ease of management make it an excellent choice as a desktop or an on-site corporate development platform.
Michael P. Deignan is a freelance journalist and a contributor to ZDNet Tech Update.
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