SUSE makes a play for consumers
New version is iPod-friendly, wireless-ready and more secure
SUSE has launched version 9.3 of its Professional Linux distribution, with the emphasis on the consumer.
Novell-owned SUSE has always stood firm in supplying a standalone version of its Linux distribution, despite changing market dynamics, and has years of experience developing SUSE Professional - which has always sought to be all things to all people.
Yet as Linux's appeal broadens, that makes that task more difficult. While Linux has always appealed to the tech savvy because of the easy access under the bonnet, it's with consumers that professional vendors can really add value on an individual basis.
To that end SUSE 9.3 has been optimised for ease of use. Installation has been refined down to a three-click process, without any fear of messing up existing installed platforms (and of course, there are plenty of configuration options for those that need them)
The suite also includes an integrated firewall, spam blocker and virus scanner: again all with ease-of-use in mind. Installation and configuration is through SUSE's YAST tool - a single interface for users to manage their system.
SUSE also claims to be the first commercial vendor to preload OpenOffice 2.0, and with its particular optimised version, documents are saved by default in MS Office formats. This means that when OpenOffice documents are sent to MS Office users, Office won't balk at the file format. It also offers straightforward PDF creation.
The latest versions of the two major Linux desktops are present: KDE 3.4 and GNOME 2.10, among around 15 others.
Further flags for the consumer are recognition of iPods. An executive at the company also told us SUSE was working on ggkpod - a music database application similar to iTunes.
SUSE 9.3 is based around the Linux 2.6.11 kernel, which adds a number of benefits to laptop users such as power-saving features including suspend to RAM and suspend to disc.
There is also improved hardware support for wireless connections and portable devices, as well as improved synchronisation options - even VoIP support.
For the technically minded, 9.3 includes Mono(R) 1.1.4 - for Open Source .Net-based projects; KDevelop 3.2; and the Java-based Eclipse 3.0.1 environment.
It costs £64.95 inc VAT and for this you get the 32bit and 64bit versions complete with around 3,000 other packages in both binary and source code. There is a quick guide and full manual also included and installation support for 90 days as well as email support and product updates for two years.
It will be available in mid-March through the likes of PC World on the high street. Amazon is taking pre-orders now online. We were also told that SUSE is in talks with local UK computer vendors to preload the system on PCs.