Novell's SLES 10 preview: Not your father's Suse
New default choices, virtualization package bode well for SLES 10 betaFollow @pvenezia
All of the SLES server packages got a refresh in Version 10, with some apps jumping several major releases from their SLES 9 incarnations. Apache has been bumped to v2.2, along with Cyrus IMAP mail services. MySQL 5.0, PostgreSQL v8.1, and PHP 5.1 are all there, and the base toolchain includes GCC 4.1.0 and glibc 2.4. On the front end, Gnome comes in at Version 2.12, and KDE is v3.5.1.
Speaking of the front end, the default desktop could not have changed more. Aside from the obvious changes wrought from the switch from KDE to Gnome, the desktop layout has changed completely. Gone is the throat-lozenge-with-a-red-N applications menu, along with nearly all of SLES 9’s taskbar clutter. Now the Computer menu in the bottom left is the only menu present.
The resulting Computer menu options are very sparse. This menu acts much like the Start menu in Windows XP, providing a quick list of recently used applications with a few icons for easy access to system resources and the Control Center. To find applications that aren’t listed in this top-level menu, you must click a button that closes the menu and brings up an application browser that allows you to page through installed applications, or search via a small text search field. It’s an interesting way of presenting this information; I’m not entirely sure I like it yet, as it seems to add unnecessary steps to what should be a simple process.
Suse always enjoyed much greater adoption in European markets but had relatively little penetration in the United States. Novell’s goal has been to bolster its U.S. base while retaining its existing Suse base. Some of the changes in SLES 10 will certainly help with the former, but conversely, those changes may alienate the latter. It’s still an uphill battle for Novell, but SLES 10 appears to be a solid and timely salvo at reducing Red Hat’s enterprise gains.