Novell’s recent move to release a version of its SuSE Linux operating system as free, open source software should give the vendor a boost in credibility with the open source community, while building its base of users running the Linux flavor.
Dubbed the OpenSuSE project, the move mirrors Red Hat’s Fedora Project, where the Linux vendor released an unsupported, freely downloadable open source version of Red Hat without some of the core enterprise features the vendor charges for in its “subscription-based” Red Hat Enterprise Server line.
However, Novell is going a step further than Red Hat, offering a packaged version of the product, complete with documentation, as well as a downloadable version.
The company is also offering users the opportunity to get fee-based technical support for OpenSuSE. The first release by the project was SuSE Linux 10.0 beta, with more beta versions to follow over the coming weeks and months. The company claims to have more than 2,500 registered members so far.
While SuSE source code was available in the past, users had to pay to get a compiled, usable operating system for servers or desktops. By creating the OpenSuSE project, the vendor is building itself another resource for software testing, bug reporting, and a big, virtual online suggestion box for new features, which should help improve the quality of Novell’s commercial SuSE offering down the road. The OpenSuSE Web site also features a “wiki” documentation section, where users can post and edit each other’s release notes and comments on the software as it is released to, and tested by, the community.