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Novell Linux Desktop--A Linux Distribution for Enterprise Desktops - page 3

Re-Inking the Big Red 'N'

  • December 27, 2004
  • By Bill von Hagen

Aside from the basic choices of GNOME or KDE which I'll go into in more detail later in this review, NLD includes a good assortment of basic Linux productivity software, tailored towards the business desktop. NLD includes Open Office 1.1.3, GIMP 2.0.2,

On the system side, NLD includes stable software such as version 1.1.20 of the CUPS printing system, version 1.0.3 of the ALSA sound system, version 3.0.4 of the Samba CIFS connectivity tools, kernel version 2.6.5-7 (the latest from kernel.org at the time that this review was written was 2.6.9), and similarly safe versions of other mandatory system packages. As a desktop system, NLD does not provide traditional Linux server software such as Apache, and FTP daemon, and so on.

Unlike the latest version of SUSE Linux (9.2), NLD still ships with XFree86 as the basis of the X Window system, rather than the more politically correct and up-to-date X.org X11 window system. Again, this is consistent with NLD's "better safe than sorry" mentality, which is not a shortcoming but simply a recognition that office users could care less if they are running the latest version of a package that the majority don't even know about. The focus is on getting work done. The version of XFree86 included with NLD is 4.3.99, which is quite close to the official 4.4.0 release that was the latest version available from XFree86.org when this review was written.

Aside from the Linux productivity software that one would expect in a desktop distribution, NLD installs a fair amount of software tailored towards today's business environments, such as the Citrix ICA Client (for connecting to Citrix Windows servers), Novell's iFolder software (shared folders over the network), and popular applications such as an instant messenger client, and a Usenet News reader(for the truly geeky office staff). The actually applications installed for the last few depend on whether you're running NLD's GNOME or KDE flavors, but the functionality is present either way. For example, the instant messaging client provided in the KDE environment is Kopete and the Usenet new reader is Knode, while in the GNOME Desktop, GAIM is the instant messaging client of choice while PAN supports reading newsgroups. No big deal unless you're a sysadmin in an environment where some users insist on one desktop or another, in which case you get to support multiple, equivalent software packages. This is how those nasty site-wide software policies get established ;-)

Stepping up on my soapbox, one glaring omission from both NLD's KDE and GNOME package sets is emacs, which isn't even available anywhere on the DVD or DVD set. Hi Carla! Though I can't remember the last time that a secretary complained that emacs wasn't available on his machine, I just can't be productive without emacs. I no longer use it to read mail and news, but my most productive fingers are still bound to various control and escape sequences. Luckily, as I'll discuss later, you can get Xemacs if you install the NLD Software Development Kit, which isn't my favorite version but is still a real text editor. Let the flames begin!

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