Novell Targets Consumer Market with SuSE Linux 9.3

Novell announced yesterday the availability of its latest offering targeting experienced Linux home computing users. SuSE Linux Professional 9.3 boasts a complete Linux operating system, over 3,000 open-source packages and hundreds of open-source applications, productivity software, and home networking capabilities.

“SuSE Linux Professional has always been popular among new Linux users and technical enthusiasts who gain access to the latest enhancements to Linux and open source with a cost effective and easy-to-use Linux operating system,” said Markus Rex, vice president of SuSE Linux for Novell.

Rex said the new version also provides corporate Linux users a preview of the technologies in Novell’s future enterprise Linux and a means of growing their skills to remain competitive in today’s IT market.

A Complete Package

SuSE Linux 9.3 features a set of desktop applications, including an OpenOffice.org 2.0, a Firefox Web browser, e-mail and instant messaging clients that support AOL, Yahoo, MSN and others, multimedia viewers, photo organizers, and other popular open-source applications.

Steve O’Grady of research firm Red Monk told LinuxInsider that Novell is positioning SuSE Linux 9.3 as a consumer-oriented release that’s on the bleeding edge of technology. That’s fair, he said, but to market it as mainstream product is a bit of a stretch.

“Is this the kind of product that will go mass market at Wal-Mart so consumers can take it home and install it instead of Windows? No. It’s for a certain type of consumer that’s looking for a very capable alternative to Windows,” Monk said.

Targeting Technical Customers

SuSE Linux 9.3 also features the latest tools for setting up a secure home network, running a Web server, developing applications and creating a fully integrated system security complete with a firewall, spam blocker and virus scanner.

The new version also provides a sneak peak into upcoming server-based Linux, including the XEN virtualization environment and intuitive search engines.

“This release makes sense for technically advanced users who are looking for a different operating system,” Monk said. “Frankly, a lot of the consumers out there are perfectly satisfied with Windows. It’s sort of a mistake to play it as a mainstream consumer option.”

Competing with Fedora

Novell is making a play for Red Hat Fedora customers with version 9.3, said Monk, and he expects it to gain its fair share of users with this new release because of all the technical bells and whistles.

“SuSE Linux 9.3 features the latest and greatest technology,” Monk said. “That’s how it’s different from many of the other commercial bistros. It’s almost like a proving ground for some of the new technologies.”

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