The soon-to-be-available Novell SuSE Linux 10.0 is being seen by some as good news for the Linux community as a whole, because it will be the first to implement code contributed from Novell's OpenSuSE project.
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Novell said the involvement of OpenSuSE means that SuSE Linux 10.0 includes code changes and bug fixes initiated with developer input from across the worldwide Linux community.
Russell Pavlicek, a Linux architect and Linux show contributor, said programs like these allow a unique combination of the commercial and the community, where developers outside of the norm can put their own distinctive touches on a commercial release.
"One of the strengths of open source is that it allows unlimited competition in the realm of design. The developers can use each other's open source code, and they are free to build on another's success and improve it further," he said. "This competition between non-commercial distributions inevitably leads to sharper, more usable commercial distributions in the long run."
Pavlicek said the multiplicity of Linux distributions creates a natural honing process where the better ideas become more refined and weaker ideas fall by the wayside.
Novell said several of these "better ideas" from the open source community have made their way into this latest version of SuSE Linux. The distribution, available in October, will come packaged with the Firefox Web browser, the new OpenOffice.org 2.0 personal productivity suite the Beagle desktop search engine and Amarok with MP3 support.
The success of OpenSuSE and similar ventures, like Red Hat's Fedora, is dependent on how well each program sticks to the path their commercial parent has laid out for developers, Pavlicek said.
"I hope OpenSuSE lives up to its promise [because] if it does, it can benefit the community while helping Novell construct an even better commercial product," he said.
Novell has also made special note of several features aimed at migrating Microsoft Windows users to SuSE Linux, including the option of replacing existing operating systems with Linux or installing Linux alongside their existing system so they can experience Linux in a trial setting.