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Novell Linux Desktop--A Linux Distribution for Enterprise Desktops - page 6

Re-Inking the Big Red 'N'

  • December 27, 2004
  • By Bill von Hagen

The Novell Linux Desktop provides multiple ways of keeping NLD packages up-to-date. NLD provides the traditional SUSE update tool, YaST's Online Update module, but their update utility of the future is Red Carpet, obtained as part of their acquisition of Ximian. Red Carpet is integrated with Novell's ZENworks (Zero Effort Networking) system management tool, which I couldn't test because I am not a ZENworks user, but which is designed to simplify system management by setting up system profiles, much like similar software such as Xandros' xDMS. Red Carpet's basic model is that you subscribe to specific software channels (i.e., profiles) that can be compared against the software currently installed on your machine. You can then retrieve any updates that are available, and easily install them on your system. Figure 6 shows Red Carpet in the middle of a system update.

Linux distributions such as NLD are an excellent replacement for Windows in an enterprise environment as long as they provide the applications that user require to get their work done and surf the net. Aside from standard connectivity, word processing, spreadsheet, and presentation packages, many businesses also need custom applications that are developed and supported in-house. Recognizing this fact, Novell provides a Software Development Kit (SDK) oriented towards developing, debugging, and deploying in-house applications. This is available from Novell through a dedicated Red Carpet channel. This SDK is Knee-deep in IDEs and related tools, including the Anjuta, Eclipse, and KDevelop3 IDEs, the DDD debugger front end, the Mono projects for .net or C# lovers, and--finally! - Xemacs. It also include auxiliary software such as packages for oprofile and valgrind for performance analysis and code optimization, subversion (the world's greatest source code control system), DocBook and DOxygen for XML documentation development, and the complete NLD 9 source code.

For a more detailed overview of the NLD SDK, see its documentation at http://developer.novell.com/ndk/readme/nld.html. For an explanation of how to obtain and install it, see the ZENworks and Red Carpet information at http://developer.novell.com/ndk/nldsdk.htm. This site also provides a number of convenient links to porting and usage documentation, including documents such as "Running Existing Win32 Applications on SUSE LINUX", "Porting Java applications to SUSE LINUX", "Migrating Red Hat applications to SUSE Technical Overview", "Moving from a Windows platform to SUSE LINUX", "DOT NET (or Mono) and Web Services", and many more.

There are no flies on Novell as far as the enterprise environment goes, and they've apparently learned a few things from the pain of Microsoft's dominance in the desktop networking environment and their entertaining but tragic experiments with WordPerfect in early 1990s. Providing a complete SDK and excellent auxiliary documentation should help businesses migrate everything that they need to a stable, supported Linux desktop.

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