Web browser vendor Opera Software ASA has signed its first deal to ship its browser as part of a major Linux distribution.
In an announcement today, the Oslo-based company said its Linux version of Opera is being bundled as part of SuSE Linux AG's open-source operating system. Opera unveiled the news in one of a flurry of announcements this week as part of its "Linux Bonanza" publicity campaign.
Opera offers its browser in versions for the Linux, Solaris, Windows and Macintosh desktop operating systems, as well as for the Symbian OS and QNX embedded operating systems for handhelds and other devices. The company says that more than 1 million copies of Opera for Linux have been downloaded from its Web site.
A similar bundling deal will soon be announced for MandrakeSoft's Mandrake Linux, and talks with other Linux vendors are ongoing, said Dean Kakridas, vice president of desktop products at Opera.
Carsten Fischer, a SuSE product manager, said the bundling deal with Opera began in April, when SuSE unveiled its SuSE Linux Version 8 software. Fischer said SuSE began bundling the Opera browser to show that quality commercial products are available for Linux. The bundled software is Opera's shareware version, which includes ads. Users can register the software and pay a $39 license fee to get rid of the ads.
SuSE also includes other Linux Web browsers in its package, including Netscape, Mozilla and KDE Konqueror, with the Konqueror browser set as the default installation, Fischer said. Users can select their preference following the default installation, he said.
The Opera browser was created beginning in 1992 as an alternative to the then-nascent Mozilla Web browser, Kakridas said.
Dan Kusnetzky, an analyst at IDC, said that the move to include Opera is key to SuSE gaining support for Linux on the desktop, especially in North America. Including Opera as another option for users could help SuSE distinguish itself from U.S. Linux market leader Red Hat.
"Anything that SuSE can do that elevates them above the noise can help them," Kusnetzky said. "If SuSE wants to expand its position in the marketplace, an important part of it is getting public awareness."
In other announcements this week, Opera said it has released Opera Version 6.02 for Linux and its latest Version 6.04 for Windows. The company also announced that it's working with Chinese Linux vendor Redflag Software Technologies Co. to create embedded software applications for the Chinese market.