Thursday, 20 November 2014 01:40

Enterprise desktop has its own niche, says SUSE project head

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One aspect of GNU/Linux that does not figure much in discussion when commercial Linux is the topic, is the desktop. SUSE Linux is no exception.

But there is a well-developed enterprise desktop for those who want it, and a highly talented developer, Frédéric Crozat, is the man who leads the team looking after it.

Working from Paris, Crozat is release and project manager for the SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop (SLED), co-ordinating matters with quality assurance and holding discussions with developers as he readies a release.

"SUSE is strongly focused on the enterprise," Crozat told iTWire on the sidelines of SUSECon 2014, the third annual conference of Germany-based SUSE Linux, which is being held in Orlando, Florida, this week. "The majority of the work is done on the server side."

He said in the past there had been a focus on the desktop with a view to supplanting Windows. "But gears shifted and the focus is now on a technical workstation," he added.

Crozat said those on the SLED side of things worked very closely with SUSE's community distribution openSUSE and "70% to 80% of what we do is based on it".

The relationship between the two distributions is "at times, when possible side by side, at others we lag behind, and at still other times we are ahead", Crozat said. Most, if not all, work done for SLED is pushed to openSUSE.

Asked if there was any active marketing for SLED, Crozat said while there was none, there was a need for such a desktop. "Not everyone is a UNIX guru familiar with the command line. Hence there is a need for graphical applications and one of SUSE's strengths over the years has been the package management software, YAST."

Even on the server version - called SLES - there is a minimal desktop, available through a workstation extension which was developed in response to feedback from both internal channels and customers.

"This extension was created for those who want desktop applications as well, in effect the best of both worlds," Crozat said. "We talked about this extension at SUSECon in 2013 and we have showed it off this year."

Despite the focus on the server at SUSE, desktop developers felt no less important to the company, he emphasised. "SLED may not be as visible, but we are proud of it and internally people are proud of it too."

Disclosure: The writer is attending SUSECon in Orlando, Florida, as a guest of SUSE.

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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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