Fresh after the version 10.1 release of its OpenSuSE Linux operating system, Novell users hosted an installfest in Sydney this week where a number of enterprises fired up the penguin for the first time.
Organized by the Sydney Novell Users Group (SNUG), the installfest attracted about 30 people, from end users to IT managers representing a variety of organizations including the National Australia Bank, the University of Technology, Sydney, the NSW Department of Commerce, Railcorp, Canterbury City Council, Sydney Adventist Hospital, TAFE NSW, and the World Wide Fund for Nature.
SNUG president David Hayes said attendees were keen to get a hold of SuSE Linux and try it, because it now provides a "much better working model than earlier releases".
Hayes, himself an IT manager at St Ignatius College Riverview (in suburban Sydney), told Computerworld organizations too dependent on Microsoft Office macros have been held back from desktop Linux, but the latest SuSE Linux Enterprise Desktop (SLED) goes a long way to alleviating incompatibilities. "OpenOffice.org takes away one of those things where people had an objection to running Linux on desktop," Hayes said.
All who attended the event were able to install the recently announced SLED10 RC1 on their notebooks. SLED 10 includes new features like XGL for improved visual effects such as transparency and zoom, and updated versions of the Evolution groupware suite and Beagle search tool.
Hayes said he would like to do a Linux desktop pilot project at St Ignatius College, but believes there is still a question of an acceptance level in his marketplace - which is the school's students and parents. Hayes is likely to start with one classroom and IT for a trial, he said. Certain applications, like Visio, aren't available for Linux, but SLED's inclusion of emulation software like Wine makes running Windows applications possible.
"We'll certainly start looking at Linux in back-office operations," he said. "A nice thing is the ability to look after [systems] with Zenworks [and] to lock them down pretty well."
Hayes also expressed admiration for Novell's certification of the packages that make up SLED, and support for end users who need to do custom development of the operating system.
Another IT manager present at the installfest, who requested anonymity, said an opportunity for Linux on the desktop exists with Microsoft due to release Windows Vista early next year.
"I really think Vista is going to be a big fork in the roadmap for desktop operating systems and applications," he said. "Linux, or even Macs, are going to be strong contenders, especially with another 12 months of development."
For more information about SNUG see www.snug.net.au.