November debut for Corel Desktop Linux

Corel will launch its desktop version of the Linux operating system on November 15, the opening day of the Comdex trade show in Las Vegas, company officials have revealed.

Corel's goal is to offer a version of Linux that's easy enough to use to attract enthusiasts who aren't necessarily computer experts, although the company isn't targeting first-time buyers, said Derik Belair, a product manager with Corel's emerging technologies group.

"Linux isn't seen as a mass replacement for Windows, nor do we want to position it that way," he said. "We're targeting the user who understands the value proposition of Linux, so for them, power, performance and stability has to mean something."

The company also hopes Corel Linux will appeal to small businesses looking for a stable, affordable alternative to Microsoft's Windows operating systems, he said.

Linux has been praised by industry observers both for its stability and for its strengths in networked computing environments. However, because most versions of the Unix-like operating system are hard to install and run compared with Windows, Linux's use on the desktop has been somewhat restricted so far.

To help try and change the current situation, Corel has written a new install program designed to make Corel Linux easier to set up. The company has also made adding and removing programs easier and has written a new file manager from scratch that makes it simpler to share Windows files and use Corel Linux alongside Windows-based computers in networks, Corel said.

"We leveraged a lot of the Windows-based file structure, but also incorporated Web- and FTP-based browsing, as well as NT-based browsing," Belair said.

November download

A basic version of Corel Linux with no third-party applications or support will be offered for free download from the Internet on November 15. By the end of next month, Corel aims to ship two packaged version of the operating system for retail sale, the company said.

A standard edition of Corel Linux, priced at $US49, will include some technical support from Corel, a few third-party applications such as games and system utility tools, and the basic version of WordPerfect 8 for Linux that is currently also available over the Web.

A deluxe edition of the operating system, priced at $US79, will include the full version of WordPerfect 8 for Linux, including additional fonts and clip art, and will likely also come with some additional third-party software applications and extra support services, Belair said.

In the future, the company hopes to strike bundling deals with some major PC manufacturers, or offer Corel Linux bundled with third-party software applications.

"The longer-term vision is for it to be a viable alternative (to Windows), we just don't want to set that expectation for what we're coming out with next month," said Jim Duff, a Corel marketing director.

Corel offered the first look at its Linux operating system for desktop users at the Linuxworld trade show in San Jose, California, in August. Corel Linux is based on the Debian/GNU Linux release and the K Desktop Environment GUI (graphical user interface).

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James Niccolai

PC World
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