Novell adds virtualization to Suse Linux upgrade

Novell released version 10 of its Suse Linux distribution for desktops and servers, including the Xen virtualization technology.

Novell released a new version of Suse Linux for servers and desktops on Monday, marking the start of a renewed push to attract enterprise customers to its open-source operating system.

Suse Linux Enterprise Server 10 includes the Xen 3.0 virtualization software, which allows several operating systems to run concurrently on a single server. This can help companies cut costs by allowing them to consolidate several workloads on one server, said Justin Steinman, a Novell marketing director.

Other updates include a new version of AppArmor, a toolset for securing applications, which is included with both the desktop and server editions, he said.

Novell also simplified pricing for the server OS by charging the same fee regardless of the type of processors or the number in each system. Pricing is from US$349 per year for a basic subscription to US$1,499 for a priority subscription, which includes 24x7 technical help. The exception is for mainframes, for which the annual subscription ranges from US$11,999 to US$18,000. Novell doesn't charge extra for companies that run multiple, virtualized instances of the OS on a server, Steinman said.

The company also updated its desktop Linux distribution, SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop. New components include the OpenOffice.org 2.0 productivity suite and the Evolution 2.6 desktop client, which Novell says is compatible with Microsoft's Exchange and its own Groupwise. It also includes the Beagle desktop search tool and the Firefox Web browser.

The desktop OS also comes with the snazzy new xgl interface, which Novell is now calling Desktop Effects. It includes a 3D view of the desktop to help users flip through screens more easily. It also mimics some Windows elements so that the interface is familiar to users, by putting the application start button in the bottom left corner, for example.

A subscription for the desktop OS is US$50 per device per year. The price includes 90 days of installation help and product updates for the life of the contract.

Novell plans to bring the virtualization capabilities to Suse Linux Enterprise Desktop at the end of the year when it releases the first service pack for the OS, Steinman said.

"We're bringing Xen down to the desktop," he said.

Novell is hoping the version 10 releases will help it win some market share from Red Hat, which so far has captured most of the growth in Linux revenue, according to analysts. Red Hat is expected to upgrade its own operating system, Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) 5 in December, including the addition of the Xen virtualization technology.

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