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By the end of the week, Novell Inc.’s new Linux desktop for enterprise customers, Novell Linux Desktop 9, Powered by SuSE Linux, will be available for purchase through Novell channel partners for a suggested price of $50 per system.

“Novell is focusing its enterprise desktop efforts on Linux deployments where users can gain the most benefit,” Jack Messman, Novell’s chairman and CEO, said in a statement.

“Novell Linux Desktop is not about the wholesale replacement of your Windows systems, but rather it’s about identifying where and when an open-source desktop can be a sensible, cost-effective alternative,” Messman said. “In our pragmatic view, the time is now for specific desktop users to reap the benefits of open source.”

Microsoft and Novell settle their antitrust lawsuit. Click here for more.

Specifically, while Messman believes that while the NLD (Novell Linux Desktop) will make an excellent replacement for the Windows desktop, that is not Novell’s focus for its latest desktop. Instead, the company foresees three major markets for the NLD: transaction workers, such as call center operators and service counter personnel; special-purpose roles such as information kiosks and stations for intermittent PC users; and replacements for traditionally high-cost Unix-based technical workstations.

Novell’s other Linux desktop offering, SuSE Linux Pro, is targeted to the Linux enthusiast/retail market. Novell spokesperson Kevan Barney has assured SuSE Linux desktop users that the company is “going to continue to develop, support, etc., SuSE Linux Pro for that market, as we, and SuSE before, have always done.”

Click here to read eWEEK Labs’ review of SuSE Linux Pro 9.1.

NLD requires little from a PC. Its rock-bottom system configuration is a Pentium II or better running at least 266MHz with 256MB of RAM, 800MB of disk space and 800-by-600 or higher display resolution. Resolution of 1,024 by 768 or higher, however, would be better.

The desktop is based on the Linux 2.6 kernel and offers users a choice of the KDE 3.3 and GNOME 2.6 desktops.

Unlike the everything-and-the-kitchen-sink approach of many Linux distributions, NLD doesn’t come with a ton of third-party open-source software.

It does, however, include all the basics an office worker would need. This includes the Novell Edition of, which provides an office suite with Microsoft Office-compatible file formats.

In addition, NLD uses Mozilla Firefox as its default browser and Novell Evolution 2.0 for its e-mail and groupware client, and it offers users a choice of the multiprotocol Gain and Kopete for IM (instant messaging).

On the administration side, NLD offers integration with Novell ZENworks Linux Management. ZENworks enables administrators to deploy, configure and manage Linux desktops from a central location.

NLD is available as a free download from Novell’s Evaluation Web site as 3 ISO CD images. This is the full-working version, but it comes without technical support or updates.

Last, but far from least for potential corporate buyers, unlike most Linux vendors, Novell is also providing indemnification against intellectual property suits arising from use of its Linux operating systems.

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