SuSE 8.0 arrives without StarOffice

The German Linux distributor has built many new features into its latest software, but has left out StarOffice 6.0 because of new licensing terms from Sun

Germany's SuSE said on Friday that the new version of its Linux operating system distribution does not include the latest version of StarOffice because its proprietary, fee-based licence would have increased the cost of the operating system. The shift in policy of one of several changes to SuSE Linux 8.0, which includes revamped core technology and new graphical desktop software.

SuSE included version 5.2 of StarOffice, a Microsoft Office-like package from Sun Microsystems, in previous distributions but decided against including StarOffice 6.0 after Sun began charging fees for the software. Sun also works with outside developers to provide OpenOffice, a free, open-source package that shares much of its core technology with StarOffice.

"It wouldn't make sense to have a proprietary application based on an open-source code base (in SuSE Linux)," said Jurgen Geck, SuSE's head of technology partners and strategic alliances.

However, the software may crop up again in SuSE distributions. "Sun are keen not to charge us," said strategic alliance manager Malcolm Yates. "They're keen not to lose their distribution channel."

The decision to begin charging for StarOffice 6.0 was controversial in the open-source developer community, but Sun and some industry observers feel the policy may encourage businesses to adopt the software. MandrakeSoft, a French SuSE competitor, began offering StarOffice 6.0 with the recent release of its own new distribution, but caused some confusion by only offering it to some paying members of its user base.

SuSE includes version 5.2 of StarOffice with the new distribution, along with a beta version of OpenOffice 6.0.

Another key change to SuSE Linux 8.0, officially released on Friday in Professional and Personal editions, is the inclusion of KDE 3.0, the latest version of the popular graphical user environment. The new KDE is base on a new set of developer tools called Qt 3.

It is based on the 2.4.18 Linux kernel, with glibc 2.2.5 and release candidate 1 of Gnome 1.4.1, another graphical environment.

SuSE Linux 8.0 will be available for free download or in retail outlets. The firm is planning a release of a version for corporations later this year.

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