SuSE is pitching for the mainstream office client market with the announcement today of SuSE Linux Desktop, which it ominously describes as the "first element of SuSE's product campaign for the utilization of Linux on workstations." The product, which will ship from January, is aimed squarely at existing Windows users, companies and individuals with no previous Linux experience.
The English announcement (spoilsports) skips additional information on the rather more dangerous-sounding SuSE Enterprise Desktop, which the German language release from LinuxWorld Frankfurt today tells us will be out in Q1 2003, and will be optimised for corporate networks. This one rams the message home by adding a couple of prestige design wins, Debeka and Stuttgart Life, but as these are on SuSE's home turf, we shouldn't get too excited.
The key additional elements to SuSE Linux Desktop are CodeWeavers Crossover Office and Acronis OS Selector. CodeWeavers allows users to install and run Microsoft Office 97 and 2000, and Lotus Notes, on Linux. It's been available separately for a while, but by bundling it SuSE is making a particularly aggressive move. CodeWeavers does not make any wild 'it's magic' type claims for what its product can do, and you can get the short list of supported apps here.
Acronis OS Selector is one of those disk management products that pitches itself at the weak-willed and foolish by saying it "allows you to install up to 100 and even more operating systems (OSs) on one computer, boot an OS from any partition on any hard disk, have several operating system on the same partition." Trust us, this road leads to madness very quickly - we're sure it's very good, but stick to two, max. From the point of view of SuSE Linux Desktop it works with YasT2 to get the installer past that tricky stage of getting Linux onto a Windows machine without destroying everything, and it's significant that SuSE is going for a commercial disk/boot manager here.
YaST itself is said by SuSE to be a be able to do the necessary re-arrangement of Win9x partitions, so presumably Acronis is there to handle XP and 2000. More properly though the differentiation should be between FAT32 and NTFS partitions, YaST being able to understand the former but not the latter. If you have a choice about it, we suggest you'll be a lot happier and more interoperable if you stick to FAT32 rather than installing XP or 2k on NTFS. Some major manufacturers we've noticed actually ship machines configured like this, but don't tell Microsoft.
SuSE Linux Desktop will be priced at $129, or €129 per station. Euro stopouts will apparently have to make up their own prices. No data on Enterprise Desktop pricing as yet, but SuSE Deutschland seems to think customers might also be interested in a 25 client SuSE Linmux Office Server for €299. ®