Because Linux is opensource and SUSE likes to make its software available for free to the public, you can download the
"Personal" version for free. There are three official ways to do this,
on SUSE's site acts as a
portal for each option:
FTP Install You can install straight from SUSE's ftp. This is a great way to do it if you have a reliable broadband connection and don't want to actually burn the ISOs. If you are on dial-up or your connection is flaky, you might want to explore another option.
Live DVD This method allows you to download the most current SUSE release onto a bootable DVD. The entire operating system runs from the DVD ROM drive, nothing is installed on your hard drive. This version is best for evaluating SUSE Linux to see if you like it and if it is compatable with your hardware. It is also great if you have an older version and want to see if upgrading is right for you. Another great use for this is as a rescue disk, if you ever have a problem with your machine, you can boot up with this CD or DVD and access your hard drive, possibly fixing your problem.
Just to be clear: you can download SUSE using this method, burn it to a DVD, pop it in to nearly any DVD ROM drive and start using SUSE Linux immediately (even a machine running Windows), without installing anything and without making any modification to your current operating system or hard drive.
ISO Image This option allows you to download SUSE and create installation CDs or DVD. This method is very straight forward where you download the ISOs, burn them to CDs (or single DVD), and start the installation. Novell calls this an "Eval Version", but as far as I can tell, it is the full version, just no official support.
Additionally, there is the openSUSE project. This is an opportunity for users to participate in the development of SUSE Linux. You can now download the latest release or development version from their site for free. The version offered there is the same as the "Eval Version" offered on the Novell site, but without proprietary packages such as Adobe Reader. You can add these packages later.