Novell and Red Hat have both updated their Linux operating systems, adding improvements in virtualisation, desktops, networking, management and hardware support.

Novell released SUSE Linux Enterprise 10 Service Pack 2 (SP2), while Red Hat shipped Version 5.2 of Red Hat Enterprise Linux. Both vendors added improvements on the desktop and the server. There were many areas of overlap, especially with virtualisation.

Novell added support for Xen 3.2 to its server platform, SUSE Linux Enterprise Server (SLES), and support for fully virtualised Windows Server 2008 and 2003 platforms. In addition, Novell now supports live migration of Windows guests across physical machines.

Novell's support of the Windows platform is an outgrowth of a cross-licensing patent deal it signed with Microsoft in 2006 and an interoperability lab the pair opened in 2007.

Novell also updated its YaST (Yet another Set-up Tool) to ease boot-ups and add network module support for new devices.

Red Hat also focused on improving its virtualisation capabilities, which are based on the same Xen hypervisor technology Novell uses.

"The biggest thing for us is that some limits went away," says Daniel Riek, product manager for Red Hat Enterprise Linux. "We now support more CPUs and NUMA-based architectures."

RHEL 5.2 now can handle virtualised systems with up to 64 CPUs and 512GB of memory. Red Hat also boosted security, performance, management, and power savings capabilities for newer processors. The company added new drivers for RHEL 3 to improve its performance as a guest operating system running on a RHEL 5 host server.

On the desktop, the two vendors also made a number of improvements.