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Novell News Summary – Part II: SUSE in the News and More Presto from Xandros

Posted in GNU/Linux, Kernel, Linspire, Novell, Oracle, Red Hat, SUN, Ubuntu, Xandros at 11:02 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz


Summary: SUSE news (a roundup) and a little bit about Xandros


NOVELL’S presence in the press this week was not mere, so here are the bits which covered or referred to SUSE. Among the stories that mention Novell there is this one about Dutch schools and Free software.

The Dutch ministries of Economic Affairs (EZ) and Education, Culture & Science (OCW) find it undesirable that students in the secondary vocational education system (MBO) are only being taught to use closed software systems from a few companies, according to EZ secretary Frank Heemskerk.

These schools will hopefully realise they they needn’t depend on Microsoft partners for GNU/Linux. Here is Novell awarding funds to some students.

Principal Clark also recognized the quality teachers and staff working at Cleveland Elementary. Principal Clark also reported on some of the vocational programs in the district. Novell scholarships were recently awarded to three Emery High students. Only six scholarships are given statewide, so having three go to Emery High is impressive.

Novell is also mentioned briefly in this article about Sun and another about the Linux Foundation where Novell enjoys a great level of influence.

More recently, Novell officials unveiled their Service-Driven Data Center campaign. In addition, some smaller vendors and startups are looking to get a foothold in the data center space. For example, a company called Schooner Information Technology emerged from stealth mode April 13 with new data center appliances that merge flash memory, the Xeon 5500 series—also known as Nehalem EP chips—low latency interconnect and storage capabilities.


Kroah-Hartman, a Novell engineer, discussed the kernel’s new staging area, which we covered back in December when it was introduced in version 2.6.28. The contents staging area, which primarily consist of drivers and other kernel components that are unstable or incomplete, is generally characterized as “crap” by the kernel community.

Novell’s PR department must have sent gratis copies of SLED around for influential writers to seed positive coverage. Here is Jason Brooks, who found some blind spots (or rough edges).

Novell’s SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 11 does a good job of bringing together an organization’s equipment and code to meet a variety of needs. SLES 11 is a solid virtualization platform and serves in its traditional role as host for Linux and open-source applications, but also has added Novell support for Microsoft .NET applications.However, when compared with more narrowly focused rivals, SLES disappoints in some roles.

Accompanying screenshots are included as well and here is part of a gentle rant from Jason Brooks.

Tux Radar (Linux Format) has a history of liking SUSE and it has had a chance to try SLED 11 as well. From the concluding words:

Knowing that Microsoft and Novell have their controversial interoperability agreement since 2006, it should not be surprising that SUSE Linux Enterprise has a lot of functionality to work together with Windows systems. SLED 11 bundles Novell’s version of OpenOffice.org 3.0, which supports the latest Microsoft Office 2007 Open XML document formats. The Evolution email client also supports the MAPI protocol of the Microsoft Exchange server and is able to import Outlook PST files directly. Firefox 3.0 comes bundled with support for Microsoft Silverlight 1.0, Adobe Flash, Sun Java and smartcards.

Another central component in SLE is the .NET implementation Mono, which is visible in the Desktop version where Mono applications like the media player Banshee and the photo browser F-Spot get a prominent place. SLED 11 goes further with Moonlight, the Mono-based project that implements Microsoft Silverlight rich internet applications in Firefox. SLED 11 also comes with support for Windows Media file formats for audio and video in the Moonshine project, a sort of Windows Media Player for Linux. While some people are happy just to get on with their computing tasks, we think this is probably going to prove a step too far for many users.

Novell is already pumping/pushing new whitepapers into IDG, with a case study appearing in another network/site. Novell is mentioned briefly in relation to the IDC ‘study’ which was bought [1, 2]:

While Red Hat makes a decent living peddling Linux and a few other players are trying to get there (most notably, Novell), the Linux software ecosystem is much larger than the money coming from subscriptions imply and, more importantly, the growth in software spending atop Linux is expected to grow at a much faster rate than other platforms, during the recession and after it.

Here is Novell’s own bought ‘study’ (not the Linux Foundation’s):

Last month, separate IDC research sponsored by Novell found that businesses are likely to make greater use of Linux servers during the recession as they seek to cut costs on processes such as web hosting.

And again in IT Pro:

Last month, a report by Novell suggested the recession is driving an increase in the use of Linux in businesses. So is this trend set to continue?

In relation to SUSE-powered sub-notebooks, Nat Friedman from Microsoft (he now works for Novell) said the following:

Last year, when we explored the reasons behind the high return rate of the SLED-powered MSI Wind, we talked with Nat Friedman, Novell’s chief Linux technology officer, who said that he was not aware of the actual return rate. We discovered that much of the consumer dissatisfaction with the MSI netbooks was caused by configuration errors that are attributable to MSI.

Here is Novell’s PR impact (Grant Ho’s videos) on GNU/Linux coverage in the so-called ‘mainstream’ press.

SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop by Novell has a growing presence among SMBs. You can choose from a variety of subscriptions including: $50 per year per user with minimal support; $120 for a year with better support; and $220 per year for top-notch support. According to Grant Ho, a Novell product marketing manager, the software takes less than 30 minutes to install. Whitelaw Twining, a Canada-based law firm, replaced outdated Windows 98 and 2000 desktops with SUSE. This move saved the company 30 percent in hardware costs and reduced desktop maintenance time by 20 percent.

“Migrating from Windows 2000 to SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop is no more difficult for end users than migrating to Windows Vista,” said Richard Giroux, IT manager at Whitelaw Twining. “We did a little training with our users up front and have had almost no help-desk calls since.”

Why does this article almost neglect the other distributions, treating them as secondary? It mentions Ubuntu and Red Hat, both of which are doing better than SUSE (on the desktop and server, respectively). Here is another article about Ubuntu and Oracle. It mentions SLES.

Oracle has its own Oracle Enterprise Linux (based on Red Hat) and certifies its applications on Red Hat and Novell’s versions of Linux. Shuttleworth argued that he has not seen any organization where Oracle applications represent a large number of Linux servers. In his view, an organization only needs so many database servers.

Over at eWeek, there are a couple of articles about Novell’s vague press release from last week:

i. Novell Defines Its Service-Driven Data Center Concept

Now it’s Novell’s turn. The open-source-oriented operating system company told eWEEK April 10 that it is now using “Service-Driven Data Center” as its go-to sales and marketing theme, centered around the March 24 launch of its SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 11 operating system.

ii. Novell Unveils Service-Driven Data Centre Plan

Novell’s new data centre strategy will be centred around the recent launch of its SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 11 operating system

The British site of eWeek (second in this case) pretty much mirrors parts of the American version.


There is no news here at all (except an update about the Linspire situation), but Presto earned Xandros some coverage, even in Popular Science:

i. Linux for Dummies

You guessed it: Presto isn’t actual “magic,” but rather a Linux installation. In fact, it’s a very stripped-down and highly customized distro from Xandros, the same company that makes a similarly sanitized flavor of Linux that powers the Eee PC. The categorical lack of the word “Linux” anywhere on the Presto site or within Presto itself is kind of shocking. Coupled with the way you’re required to install it, it’s clear that this total avoidance of the L-word is a very calculated move to hide it from the public. Why, I wonder? If I had to guess, I’d say it’s because Xandros figures the average person wets himself with fear a little bit any time he hears the word “Linux.” If that’s the case, then is Presto any less scary? I installed it to find out.

ii. The Fastest Boot in the West

Granted, the fast seek times for data access with the SSD contributed to Xandros’s (the eeePC OS) speedy boot time, but users became enamored with the quick, “less than one minute,” access to their apps. Thus was born the race to the fastest boot time.


Remember, xPUD is a DIY OS. Therefore, many exciting features like xPUD Switch Mode (the ability to toggle into another OS, a la Splashtop) haven’t been implemented yet. That’s where you come in. You can help with the development of xPUD. What do you get for your effort? A backstage pass to helping with the development of a real contender to the moniker “fastest-boot OS” in the West (and the East).

Heise covered this too, but it’s not really news at this stage.

Xandros is now offering it’s Presto quick-boot Linux. Presto is a stripped down Linux distribution installed as a second boot option to Windows on a PC and once chosen Presto should boot in a matter of seconds. Presto includes Firefox, Skype, an email client, an instant messenger and other applications, allowing users to get online quickly.

Next up we have a long post covering the rest of Novell’s news.

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