Hoping to appeal to as broad an audience as possible, Novell has released a new version of Suse Linux Professional at the CeBIT show, in Hanover, Germany.

Novell 9.3 includes the 2.611 version of the kernel, the 2.0 version of the OpenOffice.org productivity suite and the Mozilla Firefox 1.0 browser.

The new version is expected to be available in shops and online by mid-April. It contains about 1000 open-source applications and is 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 virtualisation environment and a more intuitive search engine.

"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 with 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, vice president 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 and KDevelop 3.2; and an 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 multimedia applications, including the F-Spot photo organiser, 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 version is ready for 64bit processors, but works with standard 32bit processors as well as Intel's Extended Memory 64 Technology and AMD’s Athlon 64 processors.

Company officials said pricing for the product will be announced at the time of its delivery.