Tech Talk 6 by Ken Baker
A (Very) Happy Desktop
Checking Out SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop 11 - The Most Interoperable Linux Desktop
If you want to introduce a Linux desktop into your existing Windows environment, the release of SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop 11 just might be your answer. Billed as the most interoperable desktop and the market’s only enterprise-quality Linux desktop, SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop 11 offers seamless interoperability with existing enterprise systems and dozens of essential productivity applications. It works with Novell GroupWise and Microsoft Exchange collaboration servers and is also fully compatible with Novell eDirectory, Microsoft Active Directory and other networking and directory standards.
To see what the latest iteration of this Linux desktop has to offer, download the evaluation software at http://www.novell.com/products/desktop/. I'll highlight some of the key features below so you'll know what to look for as you test drive the product.
As expected, SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop 11 includes all the latest updates to the Linux kernel, and refreshed versions of its packages and applications. It contains the latest versions of Firefox, the Novell Edition of OpenOffice.org, Novell Evolution, and more. See Figure 1. for a summary of the key packages and versions that make up SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop 11.
If you’re not already familiar with it, the Novell Edition of OpenOffice.org is a complete office productivity suite that comes with word processing, spreadsheet, presentation, drawing and database capabilities. The nice thing about the Novell Edition of the suite is that it features enhancements not found in the upstream version of OpenOffice.org. For example, the version of the suite that ships in SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop 11 includes richer file import capabilities (e.g., WordPerfect, Microsoft Works, Lotus WordPro and scalable vector graphics files), stronger VBA and PivotTable support in Calc, anti-aliasing capabilities in Impress, WebDAV locking capabilities and GroupWise integration.
OpenOffice.org Novell Edition offers improved interoperability of files being passed between the OpenOffice.org suite and the Microsoft Office suite. For example, in the past you could import Word documents into OpenOffice.org, but when you exported them back out to Word, the formatting wasn’t always quite right. Now with the enhancements in the Novell Edition of OpenOffice.org 3.0, you can seamlessly open and save those Word documents in OpenOffice.org and the formatting will remain the same regardless of what suite you use to view and edit it. Novell refers to this new capability as “roundtrip fidelity.” In addition, OpenOffice.org supports the import of Office Open XML, Microsoft’s default file format with the release of Microsoft Office 2007.
As another interoperability enhancement, integration of the Mono open source class libraries and runtime environment has been introduced to SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop 11. This provides Linux support for .NET applications, enabling them in most cases to run natively on the Linux desktop. A tool called MoMA (Mono Migration Analyzer) is provided to help identify issues when porting your .NET applications to Linux. While the libraries needed to run these applications can automatically be installed with the desktop, you can also download the Mono framework for development purposes if desired.
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In fact, Novell used this framework to develop a Firefox plug-in included with the desktop distribution called Moonlight. Moonlight enables support for Windows media formats (i.e., WMA and WMV), and allows users to browse Microsoft Silverlight-enabled Web sites.
Greater Microsoft Exchange interoperability has also been added to this release. The Novell Evolution mail client in SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop 11 has been updated to support backend integration with Exchange 2007 and all other versions of Exchange, as well as support for Novell GroupWise 8. As the most widely used Linux collaboration client in the world, Evolution seamlessly integrates e-mail, calendars, contact management and task lists into a single easy-to-use application designed for the needs of enterprise users.
The final key interoperability aspect of the SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop 11 release is an inclusion of Likewise Enterprise, an enterprise software solution that improves the level of integration between the desktop and Active Directory. For IT managers in Active Directory (AD) environments, this means that your Windows and Linux desktops can authenticate with AD and that you can also leverage AD to centrally manage both groups of devices through the use of group policy objects. Likewise, Enterprise enables you to define group- and role-based access to your corporate assets for your Linux desktops, just as you do for your Windows desktops.