2 min read

Netbooks will boost adoption of Linux

Novell expects higher adoption of SUSE Linux from netbooks

A surge in demand for netbooks is helping drive business for Linux, as the devices are designed to be low-cost with smaller storage, according to Novell’s chief technology and strategy officer for Linux.

“People typically don’t care what operating system is on the netbooks, because they don’t buy them to run a suite of applications like Microsoft Office, but to be on the Web using a Web browser,” Nat Friedman said in an interview with IDG News Service.

Novell’s SUSE Linux is already being pre-loaded with laptops from vendors including Hewlett-Packard and Lenovo. The company is now in negotiations with Lenovo and HP to start offering its Linux distribution on their netbooks as well, he added.

Netbooks are a new category of computing devices that are low-cost and designed for continuous Internet connectivity.

In June, Novell announced that Micro-Star International of Taiwan would pre-install SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop 10 on its Wind netbook.

Most of the low-cost netbooks will run Linux, to avoid the higher cost of the Windows operating system, and also because most of them have about 2G bytes of flash storage, for which Linux is more suitable, Friedman said.

The benefit of pre-loaded SUSE Linux for the user is that Novell works with the computer vendor to ensure that all the Linux device drivers are there, and the user has a far better experience than if he were to try to install the operating system on a variety of hardware, Friedman said.

Making software installation easier is also a key element of Novell’s software appliances strategy for servers. Installing the operating system and applications on a computer can be labor-intensive, and sometimes requires expertise, Friedman said. “This slows down the sales cycle, because if I want to sell some software, and the first step is for the user to install it and it is a difficult and long process, it makes it difficult for me to make my sale,” he added.

Novell announced in April a SUSE Appliance Program to enable ISVs (independent software vendors) to create appliances combining their applications with the SUSE Linux Enterprise platform in an integrated package for end-customer deployment. Novell also announced the beta release of SUSE Linux Enterprise JeOS, a minimized version of the SUSE Linux Enterprise platform that ISVs can embed in appliances.

Competitor Red Hat has also announced a strategy around software appliances.