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Novell releases SUSE Linux Enterprise 10 SP1
Jun. 18, 2007

Novell Inc. on June 18 released its first service pack for SUSE Linux Enterprise Server and SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop 10. This service pack, also known as SP1, features significant enhancements in virtualization, high-performance computing, security, interoperability, and system management.

At the same time, Novell also announced the commercial availability of the SUSE Linux Enterprise Virtual Machine Driver Pack. This is a bundle of Xen-compatible para-virtualized network, bus, and block device drivers that enable unmodified Windows and Linux guest operating systems to run with near-native performance in virtual environments on systems with Intel VT (virtualization technology) and AMD-V (virtualization) chip sets.

Some of this improved virtualization technology is now available for both the desktop, SLED, as well as the server, SLES. Novell's Xen can run unmodified Windows Server 2003 R2, Windows Server 2000, Windows XP, Vista, and Red Hat Enterprise Linux 4/5 as clients, according to the company. VMware virtualization products are also supported on SLED, both as host and as a guest, including VMware Workstation, Server, Player.

SUSE Linux Enterprise 10 SP1 also includes updated high-availability storage infrastructure and support for new processor technologies, including quad-core Intel Xeon and quad-core AMD Opteron processors, Novell said.

For improved security, SP1 also includes home directory and partition encryption, the company added. System administrators are also able to bar SLED users from unlimited access to system functionality with the desktop lockdown tool, Sabayon (not to be confused with the Italian Linux distribution, Sabayon). This tool gives managers granular control over what desktop elements are available for end users. For example, you can restrict system access with it.

SP1 also boasts an improved main menu. In theory, this will require users to make fewer clicks to access common resources. If you disagree, SP1 also comes with a menu editor, Alacarte, the GNOME 2.16 menu editor, which enables users to customize system menus.

For the overall interface, Novell includes Compiz, the 3D compositing engine. Its performance, Novell states, has been greatly improved from earlier versions.

There are several SLED-specific changes. According to Novell, these include improved authentication to network directories, including Microsoft's Active Directory (AD). SP1 also adds support for AD off-line authentication, enabling users to authenticate to local machines when disconnected from the network.

The patch also is said to include the newest 2.1 Novell Edition, which includes support for Visual Basic macros and additional fonts licensed from AGFA for better document fidelity between office suites.

As part of Novell's interoperability agreement with Microsoft, the Novell Edition also supports Microsoft Word 2007 OpenXML documents. Novell said it will also be adding support for OpenXML Excel and PowerPoint (xlsx, pptx) files later this year.

In addition to these new features, SP1 incorporates numerous minor improvements in hardware support and software stability, Novell said.

SP 1 is available now from Novell online update centers for registered users. The full Virtual Machine Driver Pack will be available later this summer.

-- Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols

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