SUSE is one of the more popular Linux distributions for enterprise users. A handful of netbooks including the HP Mini 2140, Lenovo Ideapad S10e and MSI Wind U90 come with SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop as an option, and it runs well on mini-laptops with Intel Atom processors. But it’s possible that a growing number of netbooks will be using low power ARM-based processors soon. And the folks at Novell, the company behind SUSE, say they have no plans to port the operating system to run on ARM processors.
Other Linux distributions including Ubuntu and Xandros should be ready for ARM CPUs by the time netbooks start to use them in the coming months. But Computer World reports that a Novell executive says the company is focusing on other opportunities right now.
The move probably makes sense… for now. While SUSE is popular among enterprise users, low cost ARM based netbooks are most likely going to be targeted at consumers who are looking for portable computing devices with larger screens and keyboards than found on a cellphone, but without the same kind of performance found on Atom-based netbooks. The few prototypes I’ve run across with ARM processors so far have been a bit more sluggish than netbooks with Intel Atom, or even VIA C7-M CPUs. But that could change in the coming years. And companies that have decided not to support ARM like Novell and Microsoft could come to regret it. (Windows Mobile runs on ARM processors, but Windows XP, Vista, and 7 do not).