by August 15, 2006 0 comments

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.

Rs 2,650/- per yr per device 
Enterprise workstation users
Intuitive desktop interface, easy installation
Highly integrated, graphical support of ADS and Wi-Fi
Novell India, MumbaiTel: 1-800-225777E-mail: 

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.

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
  • 6.9.0 (XGL/Compiz is also
  • GNOME 2.12.2 / KDE 3.5.1 (desktop
  • gcc 4.1/glibc 2.4
  • Novell Evolution 2.6
  • Mozilla Firefox 1.5 web browser
  • 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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