SuSE Linux launches version 8.0

SuSE Linux AG launched version 8.0 of its Professional Edition operating system (OS) last Friday.

Version 8.0 of the open-source OS, which integrates Linux kernel 2.4.18, has been designed with new users in mind. It aims to make changing to a Linux environment as simple as possible, said Malcolm Yates, the company's strategic alliance manager.

It has an improved desktop interface, using KDE3.0 -- the latest version of the KDE desktop environment -- because it is closest to the Windows interface most users are comfortable with, Yates said.

The YaST2 configuration program makes installation much simpler, he said. On a blank PC, it is just a couple of steps, he said. "You choose the language, choose the keyboard layout, and you're done," he said. The whole process can be done in less than 15 minutes.

Open-source office programs and StarOffice 5.2 are both included within Version 8.0, he said.

The new version also includes Sun Microsystems Inc.'s Grid Engine 5.3 software. Grid Engine technology is designed to help users deploy and manage networks, or grids, of distributed, interconnected or clustered servers.

At a press conference in London, the Nuremburg, Germany, company said Linux is starting to be accepted within the business software market.

"We are number one in Germany, which is the world's most advanced Linux market, and number two behind Red Hat in the U.S.," Yates said.

"It used to be that Linux got into an organization from the bottom up," said Commercial Director Jasmin Ul-Haque. "One of the techies would use it at home and then decide to use it for something minor at work, to get the stability he wanted, and then slowly it would move up he organization. We're seeing that (back door) path change, as companies recognize that they can get good support."

Total cost of ownership and licensing issues are also making companies more interested in looking at Linux as its credibility grows, she said.

A channel meeting held this week to discuss the new version was heartening, Yates said. "It was great -- we were surprised by how many came along and by the level of interest."

"A lot of the resellers didn't realize the maintenance agreements and support we can offer," said Ul-Haque. "They just see it as open source and think companies will need whole new skillsets to run it. So it's good to be able to show them what we can offer."

The recommended retail price is £59 (US$86) according to a SuSE Linux statement. Customers will receive seven CDs, one DVD (digital versatile disc), three manuals and 90 days of installation support, it said.

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Gillian Law

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