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News and Editorials

Novell and SUSE Unveil New Linux Products

March 24, 2004

This article was contributed by Ladislav Bodnar

There is a feeling among Linux solution providers that the next few months will be critical in terms of gaining new customers. This is when opportunities are going to be won and lost, and this is why decisive action has to be taken now. It will no longer be just a battle between Microsoft and Linux; it will also be a battle between various Linux entities to attract those businesses and enterprises which have made the decision to deploy Linux as part of their overall IT strategies.

SUSE LINUX, together with its powerful parent Novell, is well positioned for a dramatic increase in market share, especially on the North American market, where it has traditionally lagged behind the region's undisputed leader - Red Hat, Inc. Novell is well aware of the opportunity - its recent high-profile marketing campaign and a constant stream of press releases, product announcements, and even some radical ideas, have succeeded in catching the attention of the media. This is a very effective way of getting into the spotlight, especially while Red Hat seems somewhat less proactive.

Is Novell truly committed to Linux? "This year BrainShare don't do no stinking Windows", shouted Novell's chief executive and chairman Jack Messman during the opening speech of the company's annual BrainShare user conference. He also disclosed that Novell has committed itself to moving 100 percent of staff from Microsoft Office to by the middle of this year, and to Linux by the end of this year. It was vital, explained Messman, that his company is seen to be "eating our own dog food or drinking our own champagne" from a customer's perspective.

These ambitious declarations were soon followed by announcements about concrete products designed to make migration to Linux easier. Novell Open Enterprise Server is a new product combining Novell's NetWare, SUSE LINUX and Ntprise Linux Services into one complete networking solution. Novell GroupWise, a collaboration suite for handling e-mail, calendaring, instant messaging, contact, document and workflow management, will for the first time be available on Linux in its upcoming version 6.5 (a beta release can be downloaded for free, after registration). Besides heralding these commercial products, Novell also succeeded in pleasing the Free Software community by announcing that SUSE's system administration utility YaST will from now on be licensed under the GPL, and by introducing a new open source project called iFolder. iFolder is an easy-to-use file sharing solution for workgroup environments consisting of an integrated file sharing utility, address book, and a general purpose object repository.

As if all of the media coverage wasn't enough, Novell also announced the release of SUSE LINUX 9.1. This was a somewhat more predictable press release and it is nice to see that SUSE continues the twice per year release cycle of its distribution even after becoming part of Novell. SUSE LINUX 9.1, available in late April in Europe and early May in the rest of the world, will include kernel 2.6, KDE 3.2.1 and GNOME 2.4, among the usual array of great software packages. As with version 9.0, an AMD64 edition of the product will be released for the 64-bit Athlon and Opteron processors.

But doesn't SUSE's traditional preference for KDE conflict with Novell's goals, especially after Novell's purchase of Ximian, and with Ximian's bias towards GNOME-specific development programs? A partial answer to this question can be found in the two SUSE LINUX 9.1 press releases: while the English announcement is interspersed with references to GNOME, including a full paragraph about GNOME features, the German press release devotes exactly one sentence to the KDE alternative. This would seem to indicate that SUSE will continue to promote a KDE-centric desktop on the well-established domestic market, while accommodating Novell's intention to integrate Ximian into the product for the North American market. This speculation was given a new perspective earlier this week: according to an interview with Jack Messman at eWEEK, Novell is planning to combine the best features of Ximian and KDE to create a unified desktop environment. If the plan goes ahead, the new desktop should make an appearance in the next version of SUSE LINUX, scheduled for release towards the end of this year.

Besides the new kernel and KDE, SUSE LINUX 9.1 provides a number of other interesting features, as well as several new software packages. YaST now includes a new module for ACPI with graphical configuration of individual ACPI power management settings. The Professional edition comes with new software exclusive to SUSE, such as Textmaker and Planmaker (two Word and Excel-compatible word processing and spreadsheet applications by Softmaker), Moneyplex (a home banking software by Matrica), and Rekall (an MS Access-like database application from theKompany). A demo version of MainActor 5.2 for digital video and audio editing is also included. We will take a closer look at SUSE LINUX 9.1 after its release.

As many predicted, Novell's purchase of SUSE LINUX late last year has given Linux a considerable boost. If all of the plans by the networking giant end up being implemented, we can look forward to an exciting era of new Linux deployments, together with aggressive development initiatives. In the meantime, we can also look forward to many more press releases by Novell on its mission to move everybody to Linux.

Comments (3 posted)

Distribution News

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Astaro Security Linux

Astaro Corp. has announced Version 5 of its Astaro Security Linux. This release adds intrusion protection and HTTP virus scanning. Click below for details.

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Linux Netwosix

Linux Netwosix version 1.1 (Solstizio) has been released. The distribution has been completely rebuilt, with an emphasis on security. This version includes Linux kernel 2.6.4 and system binaries are linked with the GNU C Library version 2.3.2, among other upgrades and bug fixes. Click below for more information.

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SUSE 9.1 announced

SUSE has announced the forthcoming (May 6) availability of SUSE 9.1 Personal and 9.1 Professional. It has become another distribution claiming to be the first with the 2.6 kernel; it also features GNOME 2.4.2, KDE 3.2.1, and many other new packages.

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Trustix Secure Linux

Trustix has announced a re-release of version 2.1, splitting the product into Trustix Secure Enterprise Linux (which will be available soon) and a free version of TSL.

The re-released TSL 2.1 contains many bug fixes to anaconda, bind, cyrus-imap, gcc, iptables, mod_php4, module-init-tools, modutils, openssh, postgresql, python, rpm, samba, swup and util-linux.

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Debian GNU/Linux

The Debian Weekly News for March 23, 2004 is out. This week you'll find a pointer to an article from Novell on how to switch from Debian to SUSE; reports from FOSDEM; an update on MPlayer licensing problems; and much more.

The results of the Debian Project vote on the future of the non-free part of the distribution are in: non-free will continue to exist. At least until the issue comes up yet again in a couple of years...

A Bug Squashing Party will be happening this weekend, March 26 - 28. This is a good chance to get involved with Debian and to help the sarge release, so join in and squish a bug or two..

Now that the non-free issue is out of the way, it's to move on to the next general resolution, proposed amendments to the Debian Social Contract. The discussion period is scheduled to begin on March 28.

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Gentoo Weekly Newsletter - Volume 3, Issue 12

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Fedora Core

The Fedora News Updates for the week of March 18, 2004 contains information on Fedora Core 1 for AMD64 and IA64, the SELinux mailing list, and more. has merged with the Artoo Fedora FAQ Forums. Now you can find all the Artoo forums on

Fedora Core 1 updates:

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Mandrakelinux has released an updated drakxtools package that fixes problems with drakbackup.

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Slackware Linux

The slackware-current changelog has a long list of changes this week, with lots of bug fixes and upgrades. You'll find GIMP 2.0.0, gtk+ 2.4.0, XFree86 4.4.0, and lots more. The OpenSSL security fixes are also available for slackware-stable, of course.

Comments (1 posted)

New Distributions

X Windows On A Floppy (Xwoaf)

X Windows On A Floppy (Xwoaf) is a complete standalone bootable Linux floppy that runs from a RAM disk. It provides the basic functionality required to turn any computer into a modern communication node. It features X applications that are primarily converted (n)curses-based programs with a custom Xlib-only xcurses module. These include an rxvt terminal, txplor (file manager), retawq (Web browser), popselectx (email reader), edx (text editor), calendar, bcalc (calculator), and HexView. Xwoaf was made available at version 0.1.0, released March 18, 2004.

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Minor distribution updates


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Damn Small Linux

Damn Small Linux has released v0.6.2 with minor feature enhancements. "Changes: A new GTK application theme was added, which is a little darker and easier on the eyes than the default. rdesktop was updated. New additions include documentation on TCC, an intelligent man script which knows the difference between a regular app and a busybox app, a net dictionary, and SQLite Book (a Perl/SQLite record keeper). ogg123 and mpg123 were fixed. The install script was enhanced, and can now restore most of the regular applications and libraries which BusyBox has replaced on the live CD. Text links were added to the menu."

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Devil-Linux v1.0.5a released

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dyne:bolic GNU/Linux

dyne:bolic GNU/Linux has released v1.2 with major feature enhancements. "Changes: This release fixes many bugs and implements a new docking system to let you boot from CD and run from the hard disk with much more speed, especially on XBOX. New features include a multiple interoperable audio software rack for audio synthesis and music composition, news and updates to video manipulation, recording, and streaming software, a new audio/video multicast conferencing suite, and even more multimedia juice. The device support has been widened and startup scripts rewritten for flexibility. There are also two new games. All users are encouraged to upgrade."

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Feather Linux

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Gnoppix 0.6.0-RC2 with Xserver

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Linux LiveCD Router

Linux LiveCD Router has released v1.9.1 with major bugfixes. "Changes: This release fixes a bug when mounting a floppy drive. There is a new version of linux-wlan-ng, 0.2.1-pre20."

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MoviX has released v0.8.2rc1 with minor feature enhancements. "Changes: Non-Latin true-type font characters can now be displayed in the MPlayer menu. Full translations to Chinese, Spanish, and Turkish have been added, and other translations have been improved."

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Recovery Is Possible!

RIP has released v7.8 with minor feature enhancements. "Changes: The kernel and some of the software were updated."

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Sentry Firewall

Sentry Firewall has released v1.5.0-rc11 with major feature enhancements. "Changes: The root filesystem has been changed to a tmpfs(shm fs)-based filesystem. The "root_size" and "add_swap" configuration directives have been added to the sentry.conf file to facilitate adding swap space and resizing root at boot time. The MySQL, dnsmasq, glibc, Snort, and Shorewall packages have been updated. The mppe-mppc patch has been added to the kernel and pppd to support PPTP clients using MPPE+MS-CHAP. There have also been multiple updates and bugfixes to rc.inet1.conf (the interface configuration init file), mkconfig (the sentry.conf configuration manager), and the documentation."

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TrinityOS has released v03/21/04 with major feature enhancements. "Changes: The sendlogs section was updated to include selected syslog entry reduction. A backup-to-disk script was added to support both local and remote NFS or SAMBA backups to hard drives. A wget command was added to download a local IANA list. All URLs that pointed to were updated or deleted."

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ttylinux has released v3.4 with minor feature enhancements. "Changes: This release updates e2fsprogs, modutils, and thttpd to their latest versions."

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Distribution reviews

Arch Linux version 0.6 (Widget) Review (LinuxLookup)

Here's a review of Arch Linux on "It was time to work a little more with pacman, the big selling point with Arch. It is a ports based system, similar to Gentoo's emerge. It handles dependencies and makes it very simple to keep your system up to date. You start by running the command "pacman -Sy", which stands for "Sync" and "Refresh". This gives you a fresh master package list."

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Dispelling the myths of Gentoo Linux, an honest review (LXer)

A long-time Red Hat Linux user takes Gentoo for a test drive. "The customization and optimization does make a difference and gives you fine-tuned control over the final product. If you rely on a lot of third-party applications, however, you may be best served sticking with Red Hat Enterprise Linux or Fedora, but if all you want is a solid Linux system to operate your standard internet enabled services like LAMP, you can't do better than Gentoo Linux. I have not yet tried Gentoo out as a desktop, so currently I am only recommending it for server use. I hope in the next few weeks (or months) I will try X and see how I like it. I expect to be pleased."

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PCQuest Linux: A Fedora-based distro for India ( takes a look at PCQLinux 2004, a Fedora based distribution that comes with PCQuest (a computer magazine published in India). "The new release includes a lot of the latest software, such as kernel 2.6.2, KDE 3.2, JDK 1.4.2, and Gnome 2.4.2. PCQuest does a decent job of bundling new apps, especially some multimedia apps, and generally customizing the base Fedora software for Indian users. For example, they bundle a popular cable modem authentication application, which makes it easier to set up PCQuest than a standard Fedora install."

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