Novell has released a new version of Suse Linux Professional at Cebit, with the 2.611 kernel version, 2.0 version of the productivity suite and Firefox 1.0 browser. It is hoping to appeal to as broad a technical audience as possible.

Version 9.3, expected to be available by mid-April, contains about 1,000 open source applications aimed at more technical users in both the business and home markets. It also contains previews of upcoming Linux-based server technologies including the XEN virtualization environment and a more intuitive search engine, according to company officials.

"I think we have gained a strong following among new Linux users and technical enthusiasts who want access to the latest enhancements to Linux. But we are also providing corporate Linux users a preview of the technologies in Novell's future enterprise Linux as a means of growing their skills to remain competitive in the IT market," said Markus Rex, VP in charge of Suse Linux at Novell.

Besides the latest versions of desktop productivity software and browsers, Version 9.3 also has both the KDE 3.4 and Gnome 2.10 desktop environments; improved Wi-Fi support for Bluetooth devices; a number of development tools including Mono 1.14, Eclipse 3.0.1, KDevelop 3.2 and integrated firewall, spam blocker and virus scanner.

Although the product can be configured for both server and desktop systems, Novell appears to have a particular focus on desktop users. It includes a number of graphics and multi-media applications, including the F-Spot photo organizer, the GIMP 2.2 and Inkscape graphics software, multimedia viewers and CD/DVD burners, and software to make it easier to set up home networks.

The new 64-bit version works with both standard 32-bit processors, Intel's Extended Memory 64 Technology, and arch-rival AMD's Athlon 64 processors.

The suggested retail price of Version 9.3 is 77.54 euros (£54) excluding sales tax, although users with earlier versions of SuSe Linux can buy the new version for 51.68 euros (£36).