Red Hat Software and Caldera Systems have updated their Linux products to support the Linux 2.2 kernel and a host of new features that take some of the pain out of using this UNIX-like OS, which has historically been almost impossible to install and difficult to use.

Red Hat, as usual, has garnered support from a number of hardware makers, including IBM and Dell, for its new Red Hat Linux 6.0. The new version, which is available for free from the Internet, will cost $80 when it becomes available in stores next week.

And though Red Hat seems to grab the lion's share of the Linux news these days, the big news--surprisingly--is Caldera's new OpenLinux 2.2. Caldera's earlier version of Linux (1.3) was one of the more lackluster distributions, featuring a sickly install routine with no "go back" capability. But the new version is slick, with a graphical install feature and no command line experience required. An integrated version of Partition Magic will allow you to resize your disk partitions and the install program will even launch from Windows, given that most Linux users will probably also be using one of Microsoft's OSes. All in all, the Caldera distribution is suddenly the one to watch