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Novell Launches Desktop Linux

Novell today finally shipped its long-awaited desktop version of Linux. Dubbed Novell Linux Desktop 9, the operating system completes Novell's objective of fielding a complete product lineup ranging from desktops to servers, and sits alongside the company's flagship SuSE Linux Enterprise Server OS.

The Desktop 9 offering incorporates code Novell has drawn from its recent acquisitions of SuSE and Ximian, which gave the company a solid base of OS technology and of open-source desktop software, respectively.

On the marketing front, the OS gives Novell a mainstream desktop product with which to compete against open-source rival Red Hat (Novell currently offers a desktop SuSE-based OS, but it's positioned as a "user friendly" product rather than as an enterprise offering.) At the same time, Novell doesn't see the Desktop 9 as a "Microsoft killer," acknowledging that customers may need a few more years until they cotton on to the idea of Linux on the client.

"They're being very pragmatic in not trying to set too great of an expectation," says Gary Hein, senior analyst at IT researchers Burton Group in Midvale, Utah. "I don't think it's going to change the market overnight." However, Hein believes the OS could ultimately capture 1 percent of the overall desktop market. That small number isn't insignificant, because it's often cited as the rough total market share for all Linux desktop distributions combined.

For Novell, which will sell Desktop 9 for $50 with one year of support included, the pitch to the channel centers on integration.

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