Novell today urged enterprises to roll out desktop Linux pilot projects to senior executives and engineers, claiming that the platform is now mature enough to cope with the requirements of such power users.
"There is a basic level called 'good enough'. You need to be good enough to be even evaluated. In my view we were not there with Linux previously. We are there with Linux today," Novell's chief technology officer Jeffrey Jaffe told vnunet.com in an interview at LinuxWorld in San Francisco.
Commercial desktop Linux deployments have mostly been limited to cash registers or so-called transactional workstations used for a single task within enterprises.
In such cases the software has replaced leagacy operating systems such as Windows 98 and ME or IBM's OS2.
Novell defines power users as workers who limit their computer use to word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, email and web browsing.
"If we can build a system that really sings for that set of requirements, that would be very exciting to corporate users," said Jaffe.
Novell launched its SuSE Linux Enterprise Desktop 10 operating system in July. The software offers integrated desktop search technology, improved graphics and design as well as integration with Microsoft's Active Directory.
Users switching from Microsoft Office will be able to keep using their macros in the OpenOffice 2.0 productivity suite.
Novell is timing the pilot projects to coincide with companies evaluating Microsoft's forthcoming Windows Vista operating system.
"For the first time there is a great opportunity for [corporate IT managers] to see an open source alternative which gives them choice, openness and much lower software costs," said Jaffe.
The company is aiming to have about 15 pilot projects in each of the European, Asian and North American regions.
Jaffe, however, declined to make any projections about desktop Linux adoption. "We have some very modest expectations over the next six months," he said. "The Microsoft desktop infrastructure is very much entrenched."
The company has no plans to target consumers because their multimedia requirements go beyond what Linux can offer today, Jaffe claimed.
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