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When Nat Friedman comes to Novell each day, he's not worrying about how to build the best Linux desktop. He has a bigger goal in mind: he and his crack team of engineers, interface designers and artists want to build the best desktop. Period.

This year that team is delivering SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop. When you see it, you'll change the way you think about Linux.

SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop breaks the mold. It's a Linux desktop packed with innovations, technical breakthroughs, and features that set new standards for desktop usability and interoperability. It's a desktop that deserves your attention. You'll want to get it and run it, and then you'll want to use it every day. For work. For real work. It's that good.

Where do desktops begin? With users, of course. Sitting in front of every business desktop is a business user. A person just like you, with a hundred things on their to-do list and a thousand unread e-mails in their Inbox. Whether they're in sales or marketing, administrative support or the executive suite, they have meetings to schedule, reports to read, documents to write and presentations to prepare. End users place high demands on their desktop. They expect it to work, to be easy to use and to get the job done.

> Enter SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop
The first thing you'll notice when you use SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop is its refined UI. The screen is pleasing to the eye; menus are elegant; controls and icons are clear; it's easy to navigate.

To build this desktop, the Novell team considered design and usability issues first, investing thousands of hours creating prototypes, testing them with real users, refining the designs based on the test results, and then retesting the new designs. Virtually every pixel of the desktop UI has been evaluated and the results are obvious. (For more information, see Design First: Creating the Better Desktop.)

To get started, click the Computer menu at the bottom of the screen. You'll see the new SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop application launcher— a one-stop shop where you can launch an application from a list of most recently used applications. (See Figure 1.) If you prefer, you can have the application launcher display your own customized list of favorite applications, or scroll through all the available applications on your computer. You can even search for the specific application that you want to launch. It's that easy. Best of all, the SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop application launcher provides you with valuable system information, like free disk space, for example. Unlike other desktops, which require that you look in several different places to see important information, with SUSE Linux Enterprise desktop, it's all in plain view.

> A Great GUI Makes for a Great Desktop
The usability improvements in SUSE Linux Enterprise go far beyond the initial menus. Novell recently made a major contribution to the Linux graphical framework project, open-GL. The Novell contributions to the openGL framework, and its related contribution of the graphics compositor Compiz, bring a new level of graphical excellence to the desktop: The desktop UI is animated on systems that support 3D accelerated graphics. Windows and dialogs are slightly transparent. When you minimize dialogs or applications, you see them shrink and zoom down to the file panel at the bottom of the screen. It's amazing what the small visual cues provided by Compiz do to keep you oriented to your work.

Seeing is Believing: An article can tell you only so much about SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop 10. To really appreciate why it's the best desktop, visit to see it in action. Then try it out! Download the eval version!

Switching applications is easy: just press Alt-Tab to see mini previews of all of your open applications, including active videos and animations. (See Figure 2.) Scroll to the one you want and click it to choose it. Of if you'd rather see all your open applications (active and inactive) in miniature on screen at one time, press F11. Every application and file you currently have open will zoom out to miniature, even the minimized ones. (See Figure 3.) Click the miniature view of the one you want to be active and the rest become inactive and are automatically zoomed back to their previous sizes "animagically."

You can even organize your computer desktop into as many workspaces you want that will appear to be on the sides of a rotatable cube. (See Figure 4.) And because Compiz is open source, you won't be limited to the GUI animations that are shipped with SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop. New graphical effects can be created by the community and easily plugged into your desktop. It's that easy and it will be exciting to see the other effects the open source community comes up with.

Other UI improvements include a broad implementation of drag and drop. To add a document to an e-mail, or a graphic to a document, just drag the file or the image where you want to add it and SUSE Linux Enterprise does the rest.

> Change the Way You Work with Integrated Desktop Search
At the top of the application launcher you'll find something new: a text entry box for the new integrated desktop search. Almost two years ago, Novell introduced the very first desktop search engine, Beagle. In an instant, Beagle showed the world that users could have a new relationship to their work.

The integrated desktop search in SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop frees you from the tyranny of your own file tree. Your stuff has never been easier to find.

Just type a keyword into the Beagle search engine and you instantly see every document, spreadsheet, presentation, file, graphic, e-mail message, recently visited Web site and image or photo that contains that keyword. (See Figure 5.) Now, the Beagle search technology is at the heart of SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop.

Think about your desktop. You have hundreds, perhaps thousands of documents, all carefully "organized" into a series of nested folders that made sense when you created them. Over time though, it got more and more muddled. Need to put your fingers on something you were working with last week or last month? That could be the beginning of a long morning. But not with SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop.

Although breakthrough usability and animated user interfaces make SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop the easiest desktop to use and learn, to be considered as a business desktop, it must be able to get the work done. That's where the Novell Edition of 2.0 comes in.

From many places in the UI, you can access the desktop search tool. Type in the keyword, and see your work. It's that simple. SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop searches file names, file contents, images, media files, even e-mails, IM chats and more and presents you with the content that matches your search. In essence, the integrated desktop search in SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop frees you from the tyranny of your own file tree. Your stuff has never been easier to find.

> Getting Down to Business
Although breakthrough usability and animated user interfaces make SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop the easiest desktop to use and learn, to be considered as a business desktop, it must be able to get the work done. That's where the Novell Edition of 2.0 comes in. is a complete open source office suite that rivals the functionality of any other office suite on the market. It includes word processing, spreadsheets, presentation graphics, database and a drawing module in a single integrated product. What's more, unlike other office suites, is included in SUSE Linux Enterprise desktop. There's no additional purchase, support contract or installation. It's just part of the complete SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop solution.

Novell is a major contributor to the project and has made many general improvements to the suite. For 2.0, in addition to contributing general improvements across the entire office suite, Novell, set out to resolve one of the largest business barriers that existed in earlier versions—spread-sheet VBA macro compatibility. It's no surprise, businesses use spreadsheet macros for all sorts of things: expense reporting, pricing, weekly reports, simple databases and more.

Adding macro support to wasn't easy. has a rich and powerful macro capability all of its own, based on the Star Basic macro language, which is contextually similar to VBA. But, in 1.x, the macros didn't understand Visual Basic macros or visa versa. The Novell team had to find a way to use VBA macros in To evaluate possible solutions, Novell engineers asked the open source community for examples of spreadsheet macros. They were quickly inundated with samples from all over the world.

They examined the spreadsheets to better understand possible solutions. To their surprise and delight, they found only a small subset of macro commands were used to create the vast majority of business macros. Most often, macros are created using a spreadsheet's record function or by copying macros that were created the same way. By examining the structure of the problem, the Novell engineers were able to implement a macro interpreter that correctly translates and plays back the majority of spreadsheet macros it encounters. The macro implementation is all that's needed. (See Figure 6.)

The latest version includes other important improvements. Support for Microsoft Office files is greatly improved, including opening and saving files, reading and understanding advanced formating and styles and even importing Pivot Tables into the Data Pilot tool.

Design First: Creating the Better Desktop

"There's a difference between software that is usable and software that is a pleasure to use. Until you watch people using your software, it's hard to know how well you're doing."
Nat Friedman, Novell VP of Desktop Engineering

Usability testing has been a part of the software development process since Lotus' pioneering work on Freelance Graphics for Windows almost twenty years ago. But, in the open source world, true usability testing has not been a regular feature of the development process.

That's all different now. With the introduction of SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop, the Novell desktop team was dedicated to building a desktop with breakthrough usability. Naturally, that meant introducing a whole new process to the open source development cycle. In open source projects, the engineers are often the chief product designers, too; they implement a feature or build an application and then throw it over the wall to see how well it works.

For the creation of SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop, Novell did things differently. Features were prototyped and then given to inexperienced users to see how well the features worked. During the design phase of SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop, Novell conducted hundreds of usability tests on many different parts of the Linux desktop. All of the tests were recorded using two video cameras—one on the face and one on the hands—and a frame grabber to record everything that happened on the screen. With these three viewpoints, plus the audio recording of the subject, the engineers learned very quickly whether a design was successful.

Nat Friedman put it this way: "Until you actually try to sit through two hours of these videos, you don't viscerally understand why [usability testing] is so important. Watching these videos is exciting and emotionally exhausting. You squirm. And it focuses you like a laser."

All in all, Novell recorded more than 1500 hours of usability video. To see for yourself, you can visit There, Novell has contributed its usability tests, testing plans and test results to the open source community. Through this contribution, Novell hopes to give other Linux product developers a head start in developing more Linux software that meets the highest standards of usability.

With the increased interoperability and new features, 2.0 is a reliable and powerful office suite and more than equal to the needs of basic knowledge workers. And the Novell edition of, with its pioneering macro interpreter and complete integration with the SUSE Linux Enterprise desktop search, is all that most users will ever need.

Of course, in today's workplace, one of the largest business computing needs is defined by communication and collaboration. It's no surprise that e-mail and calendaring are among the most critical applications in most corporate infrastructures. SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop is designed to coexist with all of the most popular corporate e-mail systems: Novell GroupWise, Microsoft Exchange and Lotus Notes.

Novell provides GroupWise connectivity, including e-mail, calendaring and address books, through the GroupWise Cross-Platform Client and optionally, through Novell Evolution. You can also use the Linux edition of the Novell GroupWise instant messaging client.

For companies that have deployed Microsoft Exchange, SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop includes Novell Evolution, the most popular graphical e-mail client on Linux. (See Figure 7.) Novell Evolution features an integrated connector for Microsoft Exchange, supporting e-mail, calendaring, public folder access, out-of-office assistant, and other important Exchange features. Lotus Notes support will be introduced later this year when IBM delivers its Lotus Notes plugin for the IBM Workspace client technology.

Desktops Desktops Everywhere

In today's businesses, you deploy desktops in many places, but where's the best place to deploy a Linux Desktop? Initially for most companies, SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop makes the most sense for transactional and fixed function deployments. These are single-purpose or limited-purpose machines that are usually running some kind of terminal or client-server application, such as a bank teller workstation, corporate intranet or a point of service terminal. SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop has many features that make these kinds of deployments easy. For example, it's easy to lock down your desktops so only certain applications or even certain features are accessible by your users.

SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop can do much more than power transactional desktops. It's an ideal solution for high-end engineering workstations. Many companies find that it is very cost effective to consolidate the systems at an engineer's desk. They find that a typical engineering desk requires two machines—a high-end UNIX workstation for application development or research, and a Windows machine for office productivity, Internet and e-mail. By shifting to the SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop, companies like these find it easy to combine those two systems into one single system running Linux that is great for both the engineering and the office productivity tasks. This consolidation saves IT time and money by replacing the expensive proprietary UNIX-based workstation with a commodity-class desktop machine running Linux.

SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop is a breakthrough desktop, because it is a desktop you can deploy to basic office workers. These are the less technical users in your organization who need a full-featured business desktop they can use for everyday tasks such as normal document creation and editing, Web browsing, calendaring, e-mail and Instant Messaging.

SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop is really the first Linux desktop that can be successfully deployed to this important large audience of business users. Only SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop has the usability, robust feature set, reliability and interoperability to meet the demands of the basic office worker. It is a strong desktop that works well, only requires minimal training and interoperates with existing network standards. SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop is a great choice for business.

You need access not just to e-mails and calendars, but to colleagues and the world. Don't worry, SUSE Linux Enterprise desktop has you covered. SUSE Linux Enterprise desktop delivers the latest version of the Firefox Web browser, the world's most popular open source Web browser.

Firefox offers many improvements over proprietary alternatives, such as better pop-up controls and tighter integration with desktop applications. For instant messaging, GAIM and Kopete have emerged as the leading open source instant messaging clients and both support a broad range of IM protocols including AIM, Yahoo, IRC, GroupWise and MSN.

And of course, to collaborate, you have to have a desktop that can live on your network. Most times that means SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop needs to understand passwords, directories, access rights and basic network tasks such as file and print. The desktop also needs to work with attached peripherals, such as Bluetooth and USB devices. Luckily, SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop is an expert at fitting in; From networks to collaboration, this is the Linux desktop you can use for business.

> PowerPacked Extras Make This Desktop Shine
Just as you'd expect, SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop is packed with lots of additional software packages and features ready to help you meet a wide variety of business needs. Because more and more businesses integrate digital photography into their every-day work, SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop include the F-spot photo manager.

Road Warriors, Rejoice

For those workers who do some of their work in hotels or at 35,000 feet, SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop includes improvements that make laptop Linux much easier. The new desktop includes a revised network management utility that helps simplify the transition from Ethernet to wireless, or moving from one wireless network to another. The SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop network manager finds and lists available wireless networks, or lets you enter the name of a network that is not broadcasting its name.

When required, network passwords are easily entered, so you're online in no time. And with SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop, you'll immediately notice something else: your laptop battery lasts longer—a lot longer! That's because the desktop team has implemented new power management features that help your desktop run more efficiently on your laptop.

Just plug your digital camera into the computer's USB port and F-spot recognizes your camera or its memory card and asks you if you want to import your photographs. F-spot's on-screen photo album performs quickly and provides access to important editing and color balancing tools. F-spot also includes advanced tools like image tags that allow you to quickly categorize your images, plus a timeline view which really helps you keep your photos organized. (See Figure 8.)

For the more musically inclined, SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop includes the advanced open source music player, Banshee. Banshee contains everything you need to work with music files, burn or rip CDs, manage play lists and use your computer as a music player. Banshee is a first-of-its kind open source music player. It leverages a Novell partnership with Helix, the creators of Real Player, to provide legal playback of MP3 files.

> What about Novell?
Novell customers will find that SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop is the very best desktop for their organization. It's fully conversant with the complete suite of Novell infrastructure and workspace solutions. GroupWise? No problem. iFolder, iPrint? Supported. The Novell Client. Yes. You can even manage the desktop using the Novell ZENworks suite. What's more, if you already have a premium support contract in place with Novell, adding the desktop is even easier. You can leverage your existing Novell support contract to support your SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop implementation.

There's no doubt about it, SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop is a perfect fit with Novell organizations. red N

The OpenDocument Format

One of the most interesting new features in 2.0 is a brand new file format, the OpenDocument format. The OpenDocument format represents a new way of storing business content. Instead of only having the choice of storing documents, spreadsheet and presentations in proprietary formats that are controlled by individual vendors, 2.0 offers you a new choice—the OpenDocument format.

The OpenDocument format is exactly what it sounds like: it's a document file format that has been created in the open source community, under the guidance of the OASIS group, a cross-community, cross-industry standards organization. No single person or company owns the OpenDocument format. It is there for anyone to use and implement.

Why is this important? Think of your company and all the different word processors you might have used during the past fifteen years. WordStar? Volkswriter? MultiMate? DisplayWrite? Xywrite? Lotus Manuscript? Ami Pro? WordPerfect? Microsoft Word? As you know, only the last couple of packages even still exist anymore. That means those other file formats are vastly unsupported, or potentially worse, ransom-like support payments must be made to vendors to secure a technical safety net.

Many companies have had to establish "word processing museums," rooms of ancient hardware and software packages whose entire reason for existence is to be able to open historical corporate documents that have been saved in dead-end file formats. The OpenDocument format eliminates this issue; It's a powerful new standard for files that isn't locked to any vendor. Now for the first time, companies and governments can trust that content they create and save will always be accessible to them.

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