SUSE has been one of the major players on the desktop for as long as I can remember, and for good reason. They have built a solid, sleek desktop ready for anyone who wanted to give Linux a shot but either had no luck with other distributions, or simply was curious but didn't have the time to fight their way through a long install or tedious configurations. SUSE was it. Does the distro that has kept so many people happy for so long still have what it takes to stay on top? We're about to find out...
This release has generated a lot of buzz in the Linux world due to the new features it's sporting. Software such as Xen and Beagle are probably the main reason for the excitement, and for good reason. Both packages have thus far been in development and not available in any other mainstream distribution. SUSE is the first commercial distribution to market with both applications.
For those who might not have heard yet, Xen is system virtualization software which will allow you to run multiple guest operating systems on your computer. Think VMWare (I know... I know it's a bad reference, but the only thing I can think of to bring about a decent mental picture) here but quite a bit more complicated, a great deal faster, and completely open sourced. Beagle is the latest system search/indexing companion for GNOME and after I was able to get it working (I go into detail later in the article) I really liked what I saw. It's probably not something you'd use every day, but worth it's weight in gold when you need it.
SUSE LINUX 9.3 is also sporting some other great little goodies such as the F-Spot image management tool, the NetApplet tray-based network connection management tool, and the latest Adobe Acrobat 7 package, which has more features and is more responsive than any other release thus far. OpenOffice.org is present as usual, but this time in a 2.0 pre-release format (see screenshot). This release is also much faster than the last, and has much improved Microsoft Office compatibility baked in. Even though it's a pre-release, I found that it worked just as well as any final code I've used from them. Feature-wise, this release should look very tempting to first time Linux users and veterans alike. SUSE's efforts have always been tailored specifically for the desktop, and for the most part, nothing has changed here.