in 2003 and plans to close its by the end of January, and the move is a significant step in turning the companies' products into an integrated whole. Ximian Desktop 2 previously supported . The acquisitions are part of Novell's ambitious plan to refocus the company around Linux as a way of competing with Microsoft, Sun Microsystems and others.
Ximian Desktop provides a graphical user interface for Unix-based operating systems such as Linux, polishing technology from the GNOME project. The software includes a suite of applications customized to have a consistent look and feel--not always the case with Linux applications--and supporting Microsoft file formats.
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The updated Desktop 2, announced Tuesday, adds the latest version of the OpenOffice.org productivity suite, version 1.1, and the GAIM instant-messaging client. It also includes standard features such as the Red Carpet software management system, the Mozilla-based Galeon Web browser and Evolution, the Outlook-compatible groupware client.
The most important tweak is support for SuSE's latest distributions, SuSE Linux Desktop and SuSE Linux 9.0. Desktop 2 also supports Red Hat Linux 7.3, 8.0 or 9.
The software is available now for a free download or a $99 purchase from Ximian's Web site. The paid version includes support and a premium Red Carpet download service.
Novell, its first Linux-based desktop services package, last month, centering on the delivery of file, print, messaging, directory and management services on Linux, along with associated support, training and consulting services.
At the time of, Novell announced that it had also received a $50 million investment from IBM, a major Linux backer. The network software maker was also an early combatant in , and IBM, namely.
Last month Novell joined the Open Source Development Labs, one of the main groups promoting the business use of Linux and other open-source software. In addition to testing and developing the Linux kernel, the heart of the operating system, OSDL directs numerous projects aimed at creating enterprise-focused Linux and provides legal representation for Linus Torvalds, the software's creator.
Novell's U.K. sales director, Ben Bulpett, said in a recent interview that U.K. companies are showing renewed interest in Novell and see it as real alternative to Microsoft because of the combination of network management tools and SuSE Linux it can now offer.
"I always said Novell could be a cool company again. There's a real feeling in the office at the moment that sometime in the future, we'll be able to look back and say, 'I was with Novell when everything changed, after we acquired SuSE,'" he said.
Matt Broersma of ZDNet UK reported from London. CNET News.com's Matt Hines and ZDNet UK's Andrew Donoghue contributed to this report.