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Novell aims to put Linux on more enterprise desktops with the launch of a version of the open source OS tailored to business users. Novell Linux Desktop 9 is promoted as a way for organisations to avoid single-vendor lock-in of their desktop systems.

Novell does not rule out general replacement of Windows and other proprietary operating systems with Novell Linux Desktop, but its main sales objective for the release is to win more tactical deployments. Novell is marketing the release as particularly suitable for transaction workers, such as call centre operators and service counter personnel, or for use in information kiosks. Novell Linux Desktop 9 will also be promoted as an alternative to more expensive Unix-based technical workstations for technical workers and software engineers.

"In recent years, the IT industry has been asking when Linux will be ready to take on the desktop," said Jack Messman, Novell chairman and CEO. "Novell is focusing its enterprise desktop efforts on Linux deployments where users can gain the most benefit. Novell Linux Desktop is not about the wholesale replacement of your Windows systems, but rather it's about identifying where and when an open source desktop can be a sensible, cost-effective alternative. In our pragmatic view, the time is now for specific desktop users to reap the benefits of open source."

In essence, Novell Linux Desktop 9 is a simplified version of SuSE LINUX Professional featuring fewer apps, making it easier to support in corporate environments, and capable of running on older machines. That's not to say the OS is stripped bare: Linux Desktop 9 comes with office applications (the Novell Edition of OpenOffice.org), Mozilla Firefox browser software and a Novell Evolution collaboration client pre-installed.

Novell Linux Desktop 9 will be available through dealers from 12 November for a suggested price of $50 per system. The price includes upgrades and updates for a year. ®

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