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Novell spiffs up its desktop Linux software

Software maker has its eye on consumers who might be ready to make the switch from Windows.

Novell plans to release in early November a new version of its open-source operating system for desktops.

SuSE Linux Professional 9.2 is designed for computers with 32-bit processors as well as those based on Advanced Micro Devices' Athlon 64 chips and those that use Intel's Extended Memory 64, the company said. The software is based on Linux kernel 2.6.8 and features Bluetooth support, the ability to roam between wireless LANs and other networks, and enhanced power management and hardware support.

The product is designed to appeal to consumers as well as technical enthusiasts, the software maker said.

This is the second update of the operating system to be released this year. Open-source software makers like Novell and Red Hat have been beefing up their consumer offerings, in a bid to challenge Microsoft's Windows operating system.

"We are convinced this offering will enable many more home users to switch from an alternative system to SuSE Linux Professional 9.2 with confidence and ease," Markus Rex, vice president at Novell, said in a statement.

The package comes bundled with development platforms such as KDevelop, Eclipse and Mono, for open-source users interested in working on Linux as well as cross-platform applications. Other features include greater security via automatic activation of a firewall after installation and the KDE 3.3 and GNOME 2.6 graphical desktop environments.

The product will be priced at $89.95, including 90 days of installation support. An updated edition for existing users and a student edition will be available at $59.95.

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