Thursday, 20 September 2012 23:32

But what happened to the desktop?

By

The Linux Desktop. That's one phrase that hasn't been heard too much around the annual SUSE Linux conference, SUSECON, in Orlando, Florida.

Only one of well over 150 technical sessions is directly related to the desktop, a polished version of which SUSE releases under the name SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop (SLED).

This session, Use Cases for SUSE Linux Desktop, was held yesterday by Stefan Behlert, senior project manager, and Jan Weber, product manager (both pictured above).

Additionally, there is one session devoted to LibreOffice, the office suite that is part and parcel of most Linux distributions, and an additional session on openSUSE, the upstream of the enterprise distributions, which could be considered to be revolving around the desktop as well.

But that's a minuscule number indeed, compared to the number of sessions that revolve around the server distribution and various other products that SUSE is becoming known for and which, in large measure, bring home the bacon.

SUSE president Nils Brauckmann said yesterday that when company people made reference to the enterprise server, the desktop was also included. It just so happened, he added, that the desktop was not where the company's "sweet spot" was; in other words, not a big selling point.

Ralf Flaxa, the company's vice-president of engineering, was quick to point out that SUSE has devoted a fair bit of manpower to both major Linux desktop projects, KDE and GNOME.

GNOME was the default for the enterprise desktop, while KDE was the default, or pre-selection, for openSUSE.

Both Weber and Behlert pointed out that the enterprise desktop was not being projected as a "full Windows replacement".

Behlert said this was due to the fact that making such a claim could often result in customers being disappointed.

He pointed out that while there were many scenarios where the enterprise desktop distribution could replace an existing operating system - such as in many human resources departments - there were others, like an accounting department, where this was not possible due to the applications in use.

Weber listed a number of use cases - fixed function users, transactional users, technical workstation users, general purpose desktop users and even power users - and said all of these types could often use SLED to fulfill their needs.

But still, he said, there were cases where, due to the proprietary nature of some codecs or file formats, SUSE could not fill the bill in toto.

Both Weber and Behlert were at pains to point out that the SUSE enterprise desktop would cost less, provide inter-operability, ease of use, desktop security and ease of management far in excess of other operating systems. But still, they said, it would be incorrect to position SLED as a full replacement for Windows.

Asked whether this was due to the licensing agreement which Novell had signed in 2006 with Microsoft, both replied in the negative.


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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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