SuSE Enterprise Linux Desktop 10

Ubuntu 6.06 Linux Distro

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SuSE Linux Enterprise Server 10

Using and Installing PCQ Linux 2009 Live

Today, Linux has reached a stage where there's at least one application available for just about any computing task. These applications are either freely downloadable or ship along with a Linux distro. So, a standard Linux distro today has lots of applications bundled. But the problem is, how well the distro integrates with these applications. Many distros, especially those for the desktop don't integrate very well, as a result of which a normal user has to spend lots of time to find, understand, configure and integrate these apps on to their desktop. The latest version of SuSE Enterprise Linux Desktop has kept this very problem in mind and taken care of it quite well.

Price: Rs 2,650/- per yr per device 
Meant For: Enterprise workstation users
Key Specs: Intuitive desktop interface, easy installation
Pros: Highly integrated, graphical support of ADS and Wi-Fi
Cons: None
Contact: Novell India, MumbaiTel: 1-800-225777E-mail: indiamarketing@novell.com 

To make this point clear, lets take the example of Beagle, which is an excellent desktop indexed searching tool. It is easily available and ships with nearly all distros today. But in all the distros we've used, we haven't seen it pre-configured. To use Beagle, you have to install and configure it manually. Once configured, you have to either press a hot key combination or run it from the Start menu. In SuSE ELD 10 however, it comes pre-installed and pre-configured. All you have to do is click on the Computer menu (which is essentially the Start menu), and you'll find a search text box integrated. There are numerous examples like this in the distro.

Installation
As this is a desktop distribution, we decided to do a little test with its installation. We gave it to someone who has never installed or worked on Linux before. The person managed to install it without much trouble, getting a little stuck only at OS partitioning, which is not something that's very easy to do for a newbie. Nevertheless, the installation is quite seamless and there's plenty of help provided throughout the process. Another addition in the installer is Autoyast. If you are familiar with the kickstart.conf concept in RedHat/FC based distros, then this won't be anything new for you. When you mark the check box in the last screen of the installation process, that asks you to create the Autoyast file, an XML file is created. This file has all the settings stored in it that you made during installation (including partition info, packages to be installed, language, etc). This file can later be used for unattended installation of identical machines.

SuSE have made this distro look really hot. With the integration of 3-D desktop, user experience has become much more richer
SuSE has integrated the renowned Indexed Desktop Search. Now finding an application or file in your system is faster than ever before

The Desktop
SuSE has done a great job at enhancing the desktop usage experience of users. It used to ship with the latest versions of GNOME and KDE, but this time, the default desktop is only GNOME. Not only that, you'll also not find any virtual desktop icons in its task bar. Instead, SuSE has integrated a 3D desktop, which uses OpenGL for switching virtual desktops in 3D. The current desktop is mapped onto a full screen 3D environment where you may choose other screens. Quite a few visualization modes have been put into this. What we really liked was that SuSE has not only integrated the 3D desktop application extremely well, but it doesn't require a high-end graphics card to work. In fact, we installed it on an ordinary laptop with onboard graphics, and it worked beautifully. This feature not only makes the desktop look good but also enhances the user experience by un-cluttering the desktop.

The second interesting feature is the new Alt+tab preview option. Now, while doing Alt+tab to switch between different applications, you can see real time preview of windows. This makes it easy to select the exact windows in which you want to work among multiple similar types of windows. You will find much more similar features in SuSE ELD 10. All you have to do to make this work is to go to the 'Control Center'--> 'Desktop Effects' and enable the 3D desktop and desktop effects options. The next thing you will notice on the desktop is the new Start menu. This time the Start menu is called 'Computer' and clicking on it will open up a three column menu system. The first two columns have the list of favorite applications by default, and a drop down menu from where you can customize this link and set it to either Recently Used Applications, or Documents or Favorite Applications.

At the top of the same column you will see a search bar that is the integrated interface of Beagle. The last column shows some standard icons' link, Control Center, Logout and Help, etc. At the bottom, it notifies you about your type of network connection, its status and the hard disk space.

Here, you will notice one more button called 'More Applications.' Clicking on it will open a new window that will list all the applications installed on the computer. The applications are categorized properly in different categories, and are very easy to search. But still if you don't feel comfortable finding apps, you have Beagle search integrated in this window.

Key apps
  • Linux kernel 2.6.16.16
  • X.org 6.9.0 (XGL/Compiz is also included)
  • GNOME 2.12.2 / KDE 3.5.1 (desktop environments)
  • gcc 4.1/glibc 2.4
  • Novell Evolution 2.6 email/collaboration
  • Mozilla Firefox 1.5 web browser
  • OpenOffice.org 2.0.2 Novell Edition
  • Beagle desktop search tool 0.2.3 (with Firefox and Evolution integration)
  • RealPlayer 10.0
  • Macromedia Flash Player 7.0
  • Sun Java 1.4.2
  • LinPhone 1.2 VoIP client
  • Adobe Acrobat Reader 7.0.5
  • MP3 support out of the box

Enterprise tools
As this is meant to be used as an enterprise desktop, quite a few good features have been integrated that cater to this requirement. For instance, you can install VPN clients for Cisco systems or for OpenVPN by simply right clicking on the network icon in your task bar. You will also get support for single user sign on including Karberos sign on and ADS sign on. There are also some nice tools in your evolution to keep track of your to-do tasks and appointments.

It notifies you of the same by popping out from the task bar whenever needed. Another useful tool is the Wi-Fi Manager, which is the best among all Linux versions we have used till date. It comes integrated with the desktop and is fully graphical.

Bottom Line: A stable and feature rich desktop for enterprise desktops, which can possibly turn the long-standing dream of Linux at the enterprise desktop a reality.

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