The initial differences between SUSE Linux (previously called SUSE Linux Professional) and Novell Linux Desktop (NLD) / SUSE Linux Enterprise Server (SLES) are listed here:
"Effectively, NLD and SLES have a long life cycle of seven years, which is guaranteed. While SUSE Linux has a short life cycle where we offer a "tradition" (not a guarantee) of security fixes for two years.
Because of this long life cycle, software vendors and hardware vendors will certify their SUSE Linux products against SLES and NLD, which is not done for SUSE Linux. Furthermore, Novell will not open a support ticket on SUSE Linux for the same reason."
- NLD is a sub set of SUSE Linux. NLD does not include any server packages.
- NLD and SLES do not include any beta packages.
- NLD is better integrated than SUSE Linux. An example would be that when one clicks on a link in an email in NLD, the appropriate application will open for that link. This can be done with SUSE Linux, but you have to set it up.
- SLES is a subset of SUSE Linux. SLES does not include any desktop productivity packages, just server packages.
- SLES is refined to meet ISV certification requirements, as well as has minor addons such as an LDAP configuration module in YaST.