After reading through LXF, I tried loading openSuse 11.1 with the failsafe settings and it worked in VirtualBox. So I’ll now be reviewing openSuse 11.1. Here’s the screen as it booted up.
and after it loads up, it gives a nice explanatory screen.
So I last looked at openSuse 11.0 in Aug 2008. I’m not sure exactly how much has changed from 11.o to 11.1. I re-read my old review to get some perspective on what I said last time. Once I’ve gone through a distro at least once, I don’t see a point in repeating myself. Rather I look at how the distro has evolved since last time. Follow that link a few sentences back to see what I originally said about openSuse. As with Linux Mint 6, this time I’ll be evaluating the distro installation process – since I didn’t get to do that before as well as the program installation process. openSuse was listed in my Fedora 10 review as the distro with which to see how awesome KDE 4.2 is – so I’ll be testing that as well.
I clicked on “Show Introduction to KDE 4” and it pretty much covers any possible issue people might have in changing from KDE 3.x. Now the openSuse team has made an interesting decision. I praised them in openSuse 11.0 for figuring out how to have desktop icons when everyone was complaining about plasma’s virtual folders. But for openSuse 11.1, it has the folder view by default.
It’s not really a big deal because the intro to KDE 4 that I clicked on before explained how to get the desktop to behave like a normal destkop. Of course, that assumes people read. The desktop is nice. The theme looks good. The only other major difference is that they now have 4 virtual desktkops by default. Alright, let’s see what the openSuse installation process is like.
Yast is used. So this really is their all-in-one tool. I’m also warned that <1 GB might not be enough for a live install. Those are some pretty beefy requirements for Linux. First up is a license agreement. They caught some flack over a previous one and changed it. I’m not sure what all the fuss was really about.
Just like with Linux Mint 6 – the partitioning scheme makes sense, but I would have liked to have seen a little explanation of what’s going on for the novice user. There weren’t any settings for choosing the programs installed, but then again, most distros have been moving away from that recently. They reason this is ok because they either include the kitchen sink or they have a policy of one perfect program for each function so there’s nothing to choose. (until later with the package manager)
The installer helpfully not only tells you what it’s doing, but what it’s already done. Installation took a standard approximately 30 minutes. (I wasn’t around to see exactly how long it took, but definitely less than 1 hr) Then it ran some configuration utility.
Clicking on “My Computer” launches sysinfo:// and you get copious amounts of info.
Performance was a bit more sluggish than Linux Mint 6. The usual programs were included such as Open Office.org 3.0, Kopete, Konversation, Amarok, and so on. They seem to have chosen KDE programs everywhere except office. But, as we know, until KOffice 2.0 comes out of beta and perhaps proves itself vs Open Office.org – it’s not really a contest. While trying to figure out how to install more software, I came across the repositories program so I clicked on it. They all seemed to be checked. I got sick of searching for the installation program, so I typed “install” in the menu.
I still think this program is insanely ugly. It just feels so Windows 98 and out of place when the rest of openSuse 11.1 looks very nice – verging on beautiful. One good thing about it is that all those tabs in the bottom half of the screen have a lot of info. So, even though the GUI is ugly as heck, it certainly wins vs Fedora in terms of information and organization of said info. It loses, however, vs Linux Mint 6 and mintInstall with its ratings and screenshots. So I do my usual install of Blender. They have 2.48a. So they are just as up-to-date as Fedora! (Makes sense since Fedora and openSuse are rivals in the same way as The Yankees and The Red Sox) So this takes a few minutes.
Time to look a bit at KDE 4.2. Overall, openSuse continues to have a solid KDE release. I didn’t see anything outstanding or that much more amazing compared to openSuse 11.0. They put out such a good KDE 4.0 implementation that there isn’t much to improve upon.
So how was openSuse 11.1? It was a little hard to find some of the configuration utilities, but you could always use the search bar in the K menu, so it wasn’t too bad. There’s no doubt in my mind that openSuse seems like a nice, solid distro. It just feels very tight and professional. It also appears to be as caught up on the new versions of programs as Fedora. So, ever since last August, I would rate the pop distros as follows. For a new Gnu/Linux user – Linux Mint 6, Ubuntu, Mandriva, openSuse, Fedora. I think that Mandriva has put that last little bit of spit and polish on their latest release to edge ahead of openSuse. Linux Mint 6 is, for the new user, the epitome of elegant and easy-to-use Linux. But if we’re talking about experienced users – then openSuse takes the top honors. Over the last two releases it has been solid and well-polished. While Fedora 10 is pretty awesome, Fedora 9 was a mess. And Ubuntu and Mandriva don’t seem to cut it for me as an experienced user. They’re good distros, but feel too n00bish.
So, openSuse is a good distro to check out. Their release engineers are doing a great job. As with last time, the only cause for hesitance is their pact with Microsoft as that may be a deal-breaker for some users out there. They’ve also done some other stuff that really bugs some people in the community such as working on composite extensions to X.org without telling anyone, “forking” Open Office.org, and supporting/housing the Mono and Moonlight teams. For me, personally, only Moonlight worries me from the point of view of helping MS overtake Flash and then what if Microsoft stops cooperating? Also, the doing all the composite stuff behind the scenes was a little more cathedral than bazaar. But the rest is pretty minor to me. To some others, they are irreconcilable differences and to others still, a reason to boycott Novell. If you call yourself a supporter of open source rather than free software, you’ll probably find a lot to like in openSuse.