Opera Web browser gains new channel with SuSE Linux

Web browser vendor Opera Software has signed its first deal to ship its browser as part of a major Linux distribution.

Web browser vendor Opera Software has signed its first deal to ship its browser as part of a major Linux distribution.

The company said its Linux version of Opera is being bundled as part of SuSE Linux's open source operating system.

Opera offers its browser in versions for the Linux, Solaris, Windows and Macintosh desktop operating systems, as well as for the Symbian OS and QNX embedded operating systems for handhelds and other devices. The company says that more than one million copies of Opera for Linux have been downloaded from its Web site.

A similar bundling deal will soon be announced for MandrakeSoft's Mandrake Linux, and talks with other Linux vendors are in progress, said Dean Kakridas, vice-president of desktop products at Opera.

Carsten Fischer, a SuSE product manager, said the bundling deal with Opera began in April, when SuSE unveiled its SuSE Linux Version 8 software. Fischer said SuSE began bundling the Opera browser to show that quality commercial products are available for Linux. The bundled software is Opera's shareware version, which includes ads. Users can register the software and pay a $39 (£26) licence fee to get rid of the ads.

SuSE also includes other Linux Web browsers in its package, including Netscape, Mozilla and KDE Konqueror, with the Konqueror browser set as the default installation, Fischer said. Users can select their preference following the default installation, he added.

The Opera browser was created in 1992 as an alternative to the then-nascent Mozilla Web browser, Kakridas said.

Dan Kusnetzky, an analyst at IDC, said that the move to include Opera is key to SuSE gaining support for Linux on the desktop, especially in North America. Including Opera as another option for users could help SuSE distinguish itself from US Linux market leader Red Hat.

"Anything that SuSE can do that elevates it above the noise can help it," Kusnetzky said. "If SuSE wants to expand its position in the marketplace, an important part of it is getting public awareness."

Opera said it has also released Opera Version 6.02 for Linux and its latest Version 6.04 for Windows, and is working with Chinese Linux vendor Redflag Software Technologies to create embedded software applications for the Chinese market.

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