Novell (NASDAQ: NOVL) is making a play for Linux users new and old with the release of its openSUSE 11 distribution.
Version 11 introduces an installer, improved package management and updated key open source packages.
The new distribution is Novell's attempt to put its best stuff out on the field as it ramps up the competition against Red Hat's Fedora and Ubuntu Linux in the growing Linux community.
Joe Brockmeier, openSUSE community manager, told InternetNews.com that openSUSE 11's strength is its targeting of end users making the switch from Vista. "We're also targeting the longtime Linux users," he added.
In Brockmeier's view, openSUSE 11 is easy enough to use for new user, and it doesnt dumb Linux down to the point where it is unpleasant for longtime users.
"There are distros that have tried to just cater to new Linux people, but we have a strong community that has been using Suse since the '90s," Brockmeier said. "And we have to address their needs but we also want to reach out to new users that dont' want to use Windows or a Mac."
A key part of simplifying use for new users is the new installer in openSUSE 11, which eases getting Novell's Linux operational on a user's PC.
Brockmeier also noted that Novell has improved package management on openSUSE, so it's easier for users to get and consume software applications.
Novell uses PackageKit, which is a GUI package management toolkit that enables Linux users to manage different types of Linux packaging formats. Red Hat's Fedora 9 also uses the distribution.
Brockmeier noted that moving to PackageKit is something that all the community distros agree needs to happen.
"We really need to find as many ways as we can to reduce redundancies between the distros in areas that aren't competitive," Brockmeier said. "Updates and package management really should be uniform."