Easier installation, 3D desktop effects, digital music and video management and an up-to-date OpenOffice are among the enhancements in openSUSE 11.0, which became generally available this week. Designed for the novice as well the advanced, installation options include a choice of Gnome 2.22 or KDE 4 desktop environments and the ability to boot from disc rather than the hard drive.

Available now for download , openSUSE 11.0 adds Compiz Fusion (version 0.7.4), a windowing system that resulted in the marriage of the Beryl composite window manager with the community-built Compiz Extras. The software has been considered stable since version 0.6.0, released in October.

Management of digital sound and video are provided via Banshee, Aaron Bockover’s C#-based open-source media player that reached version 1.0 on June 5. Features introduced in version 1.0 were video playback, a media queue, artist/album browser, faster searching and drag-and-drop support for iPod and other “mass storage” devices. There’s also a mini-mode, automatic CD reading and importing, CD burning, cover art grab and tons of other new features.

The distro also gives you OpenOffice 2.4, which adds numerous enhancements to its charting capabilities, support for ODF and additional Microsoft file formats, native support for Mac OS X’s QuickTime player, better 3D charts in Calc, 3D transitions in Impress, and better support for Visual Basic for Applications (VBA). More enhancements introduced with version 2.4 on May 28 are listed at the OpenOffice Web site.

OpenSUSE was founded by Novell after it acquired the Linux software in 2004.

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I am Technical Editor of the [url=http://www.crn.com]CRN Test Center[/url], a kind of computer-centric "Consumer Reports" for retailers and VARs ([url=http://crn.com]www.crn.com[/url]). I bought my first computer in 1980, an Atari 800. In addition to adventure games like Zork, I also played with the hardware, dabbling with ROM dumps and mods to the 810 disk drive. That's also where I learned BASIC programming. After 1984, I moved to PCs, clones and NetWare, and then to Apple IIs and Macs until around 1990. In July of that year I got my first job at a publishing company, supporting about 25 Mac users (including the staff of "MacWeek").

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