Novell Pumps Up Sound, Graphics in New OpenSuse 10.3

Novell has set loose OpenSuse 10.3, the latest version of the company’s free Linux distribution. More specifically, OpenSuse 10.3 was created by the OpenSuse project, the community Novell sponsored, which now has 54,000 registered members.

To improve the user experience, OpenSuse 10.3 includes a flexible Linux-Windows dual-boot configuration, Novell said, an improved user interface, Microsoft Office file compatibility with the latest OpenOffice.org office productivity suite, and enhanced multimedia support.

“The OpenSuse community continues to deliver innovations and has created a new version of OpenSuse that will excite a wide range of computer users,” noted Andreas Jaeger, director of the OpenSuse project.

“OpenSuse 10.3 provides a stable and state-of-the-art operating system based on Linux kernel 2.6.22, and it contains a large variety of the latest open source applications for desktops, servers and application development,” he added.

New Features

For its graphical interface, which users can choose, OpenSuse 10.3 now includes the newest versions of the GNOME and KDE desktop environments, including a KDE 4 preview. The release also includes out-of-the-box MP3 support for Banshe and Amarok, Novell says, which are the default media players in OpenSuse. In addition, OpenSuse 10.3 offers the latest open source applications for developing applications, setting up home networks and running Web servers, as well as the latest virtualization software such as Xen 3.1 and VirtualBox 1.5.

“The continuing evolution of the 3-D capabilities is notable, as is the out-of-the-box MP3 support, breaking as it does with the convention of not including native support for proprietary codecs,” Stephen O’Grady, a RedMonk analyst, told LinuxInsider.

Novell is also touting its 1-Click Install option, which gives OpenSuse 10.3 users easy access to more software packages residing on the OpenSuse Build Service. The feature was contributed by a single OpenSuse community member, Novell noted, which is an example of how OpenSuse’s community of developers, testers, writers, translators, artists and users can bring new features to the distribution.

Competitors’ Outlook

In addition to competing with commercial desktop operating systems like Microsoft’s Windows Vista and Apple’s Mac OS X, Novell’s OpenSuse 10.3 must also compete with other Linux distributions, most notably Red Hat’s Fedora and Canonical‘s Ubuntu.

“As for its market positioning, a lot of the folks I know use it because of Suse‘s historical strength and focus on the desktop versus, say, Red Hat,” O’Grady noted. “But Ubuntu remains far and away the distribution of choice amongst the communities I’m familiar with.”

Both Red Hat and Novell, O’Grady said, have a following independent of each company’s Linux server business, but OpenSuse is more common, for example, in Suse-based organizations.

Users can download 10.3 free from OpenSuse.org or buy it in a retail edition package from Novell on DVD with a user manual, some additional software on a second DVD, and 90 days of installation support for about US$60.

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