Linux in Government: Linux Desktop Reviews, Part 2 - Novell Linux Desktop
In Figure 1, you can get an idea of the functionality available on the Novell Linux desktop. In this figure we accessed the accessories menu. You can see the availability of many applications and tools, including the Microsoft Terminal Server Client and the Novell iFolder.
The Terminal Server Client is shown in Figure 2.
For users requiring Microsoft or Win-32 applications, Novell has provided a simple way to utilize those applications through a Microsoft Terminal Server. Again, if you believe such applications play a niche role in your enterprise rather than a dominant one, using a terminal server can save your organization significant funds. MS Terminal Server client, for example, uses the Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP).
A second solution bundled with NLD includes the Citrix ICA Client, whose splash screen is represented in Figure 3. NLD also includes the popular Evolution Workgroup client, version 2.0, which can connect to Microsoft exchange as well as to Novell GroupWise.
Finally, NLD also provides extensive interoperability with existing Microsoft infrastructures by including Samba, the SMB CIFS client/server solution. We have noted in previous articles (see Resources) how Samba allows Linux to work with Windows clients in peer-to-peer, Primary Domain and Active Directory environments.
Novell has made a major contribution to the Open Source community by enhancing the ubiquitous OpenOffice.org Productivity Suite. In the past, we have tested and used Sun's StarOffice7 version of OpenOffice.org and considered it to be the best of class. After using Novell's version of OpenOffice.org, shown in Figures 4 and 5, we have another opinion.
Novell has enhanced the major applications in the OpenOffice.org suite--StarWriter, StarCalc and Impress--such that they perform with exceptional stability and ease of use. If you have utilized Microsoft's Office Productivity suite, you may find the Novell suite to be easier to use and compatible with more versions of the Microsoft file format than any other product.
Also, we anticipate that Novell will offer OpenOffice.org version 2 within the near future. You can find information about it on the OpenOffice.org Web site. In the meantime, you can discover how the newest version, now in beta, looks and feels like Microsoft Office. In short, your users should have no problem in migrating to the latest version of OpenOffice.org.
Although we could continue to discus NLD far past our allotted space here, we suggest that you take a close look at the Novell offering yourself. As pointed out earlier, you can download a fully functional version from the Novell Web site. Although you can experience the desktop and try it in standalone mode, you perhaps might find a much richer experience if you set up a pilot project to use the various tools available from Novell.
As a side note, please understand that although I may have written enthusiastically about NLD, I remain an objective third party. Perhaps you can take my enthusiasm as evidence of how impressed I am with both the product and the company.
Tom Adelstein lives in Dallas, Texas, with his wife, Yvonne, and works as a Distinguished Analyst and open-source software consultant with Hiser+Adelstein, headquartered in New York City. He's the co-author of the book Exploring the JDS Linux Desktop and author of an upcoming book on Linux system administration, to be published by O'Reilly and Associates. Tom has been consulting and writing articles and books about Linux since early 1999.
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