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Novell Shows Off Linux Desktop 10

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A demonstration of the next release of Novell's Linux for desktops drew cheers and applause Wednesday, although the final version of the software is not expected for some months.

Nat Friedman, the company's vice president of Linux desktop engineering, showed Novell Linux Desktop 10 playing videos and MP3 music files, and exchanging music and photos with an iPod and a digital camera, in a keynote presentation at the Solutions Linux conference and trade show on the outskirts of Paris.

The forthcoming desktop Linux distribution also includes features for business users, such as software for translating Visual Basic macros in Microsoft Excel spreadsheet documents into their equivalent in StarBasic, the macro language used by the open-source productivity suite.

For the average home user, existing Linux distributions suffer from one major flaw: they can't play MP3-format music files out of the box. This is because the MP3 encoding system is patented, and the system for licensing the patent is incompatible with the GPL open source license under which Linux is distributed, Friedman says.

To get around that, Novell has developed its own MP3 player software, Banshee, for which it has licensed the patents.

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