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SuSE Linux aims to make its open source distribution more user friendly with version 8.0 of its Professional Edition, launched today.

Version 8.0 is based on version 2.4.18 of the Linux kernel and includes an improved desktop interface, KDE 3.0, which is closer to the Windows desktop environment most users are familiar with.

Using the YaST2 configuration program, users can have SuSE Professional Edition version 8.0 (which comes in seven CDs or one DVD) up and running on a blank PC in 20 minutes, according to Roger Whittaker, a technical consultant at SuSE.

"We're trying to develop the most functional and easy to use Linux distribution available," said Whittaker, who added that many large businesses and police organisations are exploring the use of Linux on the desktop. Desktop use of Linux remains the exception, of course, but SuSE reckons Microsoft's latest licensing policies will see Linux distro make inroads into the Windows hegemony.

Office suites OpenOffice.org and StarOffice 5.2 both come bundled with SuSE Professional Edition Version 8.0, along with an improved Linux-based firewall. It also includes Sun's Grid Engine 5.3 distributed resource management software, Apache 1.3.23 and file and print server for Windows networks, Samba 2.2.3a.

Support for multimedia devices such as CD writers is improved but SuSE support for scanners, though improved, remains less than perfect. ADSL users will still have to download proprietary software from Alcatel to get their connections up and running with the distro. Meanwhile, DVD support for Linux users remains embroiled in legal issues, particularly in America where the DeCSS case impedes out-of-the-box support.

The recommended retail price for Linux 8.0 Professional (which comes with 90 days installation support) is €79.90. ®

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