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Suse 9 Hits American Shores

By Jim Wagner (Send Email)
Posted Oct 31, 2003


Suse Linux, until now known mainly as 'that European flavor of Linux' to many Americans, is getting ready for a big push with businesses and government organizations, with the introduction of Suse Linux 9 with 64-bit processing and Linux 2.6 kernel enhancements to the Americas Thursday. The introduction of SuSE Linux 9 in the Americas Thursday began SuSE Linux's big push with businesses and government organizations in the region.

The product has been available online since Oct. 24 but has just now reached retailers in the United States, Canada, and South America.

Analysts expect the various Linux vendors to expand in coming years outside their mostly territorial niches (e.g., Red Hat in the United States, Suse in Europe, and Mandrake, a Franco-American product) and go global.

The goal: capturing big-dollar accounts for the increasingly-popular open source operating system; while commercial versions of the Linux kernel aren't free, they are significantly less expensive than today's proprietary systems.

While Suse already has 64-bit processing capability in its enterprise version 8, which has gained a lot of attention with American companies, Suse Linux 9 Home and Professional versions are tailored toward consumer and workstation users.

"We believe that 64-bit applications will rapidly become the standard, and that's why we had an operating system for the AMD Athlon 64 processor available at the time of its introduction (in 1999)," said Juergen Geck, Suse Linux's chief technology officer.

Although research has shown 32-bit processing to still be the standard for many mainstream companies and that only 29 percent of companies are using Linux in the enterprise, Laura Didio, an analyst at the Yankee Group, said offering the latest technology on software is a good strategy.

"They want to distinguish themselves from the horde of Linux vendors," she said. "Looking at Linux today, it reminds me of the Oklahoma land rush, where people lined up, someone fired the gun and everyone made a mad dash to claim land.

"It's a mad dash right now to stake your claim in Linux," she continued. "Everyone has a Linux offering, an open source strategy, etc. By having (64-bit processing) first, they're looking to go after the high end of the market."

The Nuremberg, Germany, Linux company is trying to shed its image as a European player by expanding into the global market: Other vendors of the open source operating system are doing the same.

Didio said all of the commercial Linux vendors are going to be making a huge push to break into the global market, which will result in a lot of competition and a lot of consolidation as the losers fall behind.

This commercial side of Linux, which is a marked contrast to the image of Linux as a beneficent community of developers, will be similar to the consolidations that the networking and ISP industries underwent in the 1990s.

"You're going to see the dogfight commence in earnest among companies like Red Hat, Suse and Mandrake," she said. "This is not a little love-in, they're going to compete and that's what it's going to come down to. Networks don't know geographic barriers; when the data traverses the network, it doesn't care that it might be London communicating with New Zealand."

Suse, for its part, has been making inroads with U.S. companies this year to expand globally. In June, the company signed a deal with Hewlett-Packard to run its enterprise server version 8 on HP ProLiant machines running on Itanium-based servers.

Earlier this month, it inked an agreement with Sybase subsidiary iAnywhere to let Suse enterprise server customers run SQL Anywhere. The deal was brokered to provide a database/operating system matchup on par with Red Hat and Oracle's agreement.

The deals are an end result of the major reorganization the company went through two years ago, and completed last year, to streamline their product and sales channels and become a global player.

To pitch the benefits of Suse Linux 9 and Enterprise Server 8, Suse's Geck will tour the U.S. and Canada to speak with analysts and convince corporations and government agencies to make the switch to Suse.

The company is selling four types of Suse Linux 9 in the stores: Home Edition, $39.95; Professional Edition with 32-bit processing, $79.95; Professional Edition with 64-bit processing, $119.95; and Upgrade edition, $49.95.

In addition to 64-bit processing, Suse Linux 9 comes with improvements that are still under development with the Linux 2.6 kernel. They include, an advanced Linux sound architecture, power management support, and improved scheduling.

In a nod to the popularity of the Windows operating system, Suse Linux 9 has expanded its support for the NTFS file system found in Windows, allowing users to repartition the hard drive and access both operating systems.

The operating systems comes bundled with OpenOffice.org 1.1, an upgraded version of instant messaging client Kopete, CD/DVD burning software (k3b), and KDE 3.1.4.

This article was originally published on internetnews.com.

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