By Mark Long / Top Tech News. Updated October 05, 2007.
Novell has announced that the newest Linux distribution of OpenSUSE is now available for free download from the OpenSUSE Project -- a Novell-sponsored community initiative with 54,000 members.
"The OpenSUSE community continues to deliver innovations and has created a new version of OpenSUSE that will excite a wide range of computer users," said OpenSUSE project director Andreas Jaeger. "It contains a large variety of the latest open-source applications for desktops, servers, and application development."
Through the addition of the latest OpenOffice.org office productivity suite, for example, OpenSUSE 10.3 enables files to be shared with Microsoft Office users. Moreover, the latest version of AppArmor is onboard to protect both the Linux operating system and applications from viruses and malware attacks.
A dual-boot capability is of course on tap to give users the option of running both Windows and Linux on the same computing platform.
Best of Both Worlds
The dual-boot configuration is one choice users have when installing OpenSUSE. "It allows you to have Linux and Windows installed on the same laptop or desktop machine, in separate partitions," said Novell spokesperson Kevan Barney. "Then you can choose which OS to boot into whenever you start up your machine, effectively allowing you to switch back and forth as you need to."
Barney said the dual-boot setup is ideal for anyone who is moving to Linux but still has an application or two that requires Windows. "They can live in Linux, for example, but hop back into Windows occasionally on the same machine as they need to," Barney explained.
Building on the company's previous Linux offerings, OpenSUSE 10.3 now features an improved user interface that integrates the latest improvements of the GNOME desktop environment, including enhancements that improve both usability and ease-of-use. For example, GNOME 2.2 allows the users of multiple platforms to synchronize their files across all the machines on which they typically work.
OpenSUSE 10.3 also incorporates a preview of the next-generation KDE 4, which features a dazzling array of graphical changes. But Linux users will have to wait for OpenSUSE 11.0 to experience the full-blown KDE 4 experience.
"Right now with 10.3, KDE 4 is just an experimental add-on," noted OpenSUSE and KDE core developer Dirk Muller. "We're not advertising it as a default because there is no official release, and it is definitely not as stable and ready for production use as the SUSE-polished KDE 3.5."
Faster Boot Times
When running OpenSUSE 10.3, laptops will only take 27 seconds to boot up, while desktops will take around 24 seconds -- major improvements over the previous distribution's average boot time of 55 seconds. In addition, eight seconds have been shaved from the shutdown process.
To find ways to speed boot-up performance, OpenSUSE project manager Stephan Kulow first reviewed all scripts during startup and shutdown to see whether they could be replaced by something more useful. "We moved out all kinds of boot scripts from the default installation that were scanning hardware on boot," Kulow explained. "We now delay the firewall setup until the network startup itself is actually due," Kulow said.
Virtualization improvements and additions to OpenSUSE 10.3 range from the VirtualBox virtualization infrastructure to the latest version of Xen, which receives support on both 32- and 64-bit x86-based architectures. The new distribution of OpenSUSE also comes with the requisite I.T. enterprise tools for administering and configuring virtual machines.