I have started a journey of sorts as I have stated not too long ago. I decided to try multiple distributions in order to see what features were good, what ones were not, and if an all star distribution were to be made, which features would, in my view, make the cut. The first part of what is going to sound disturbing to a few at first, because of the issue of “selling out.” However, allow me to explain.
Whether we like it or not, it is on the top 10 of DistroWatch. The fact that enough people are willing to visit the OpenSuSE website should indicate that they are at least interested in this distribution. Now before being accused of walking towards the dark side due to Novell’s deal with Microsoft, allow me to point a few things out.
When the deal went down, the volunteers had no say in the matter. In other words, the OpenSuSE team was caught in the crossfire that ensued. While Ken Starks (a.k.a. helios) himself criticized Novell heavily for the deal they made with Microsoft, he never once fired upon the OpenSuSE team. Not once. Again, they had no say in the matter. With that in mind, let us begin with the evaluation of OpenSuSE 10.3. Keep in mind that this will be quite brief as I plan on making a more in depth version later on (in the form of a book perhaps).
I used the network installation method so that I would have the up-to-date packages installed. It uses the RedHat Package Management tool for installation/removal of software. I ran into an issue on AMD Athlon-64 desktop system when trying to do a straight installation. I had to set up the repository information before beginning the install sequence. In my opinion, I should not have had to do that, but oh well. It was a minor inconvenience. I have only tested this on the desktop system for an entire week, so…..
Hardware detection was decent for the most part. I had to change the monitor type, but after installing the nVIDIA driver for 3D graphics and improved desktop performance, the resolution problem was easier to fix. Software updates worked for the most part, and I was able to connect to the web through the cable modem. I was able to use K-mail to send and receive e-mail and Konqueror and Firefox for web browsing. Installation of packages through YaST (Yet Another System Tool) worked like a charm. Hardware detection worked quite well. My printer worked just fine.
What Was Wrong
For the life of me, I kept being told that there was an update to Amarok. I installed the same thing several times, only for it to show up again later. It was the same update over and over again. I would think, “Not again! I already installed it!” It was quite annoying. Also, I have not used Thunderbird, because when I tried hitting reply to an e-mail, the application locked up and was stone cold dead. Not a good thing. It would also be nice if the installation routine allowed people to do 1440×900 resolution, but that would have to be set aside: it is not always good to sit around and complain.
What Makes It Unique
Before getting into that, I would like to point out that a choice was given between GNOME and KDE. It even included the usual staples, such as Firefox and OpenOffice.org. However, there is some uniqueness to OpenSuSE that I would never have th ought possible. Like an RSS feed, it is possible to subscribe to a repository of RPM packages for OpenSuSE. By clicking a link to the file, the appropriate YaST component for software opens and runs a wizard to install the pertinent software without enabling the repository on a permanent basis (though it can be arranged latter). I subscribed to the nVIDIA driver repository so I could get 3D up and running on the 64-bit desktop. It worked well enough. YaST is also an interesting approach to controlling the system itself. Think of it as a Windows Control Panel on steroids and then some. This edition of YaST is much more streamlined and better looking than past versions of SuSE that I purchased (before Novell/Microsoft).
While there are plenty of control panels, I believe that SuSE may have been among the first distributions to allow for installing software via the Internet. Another first is of course the ability to add a repository with a single mouse click. Imagine if something like that were in Ubuntu, Mint, or PCLinuxOS! Would that be cool or what? Mint already has a one-click install feature, but it temporarily edits the repository information. What if such a thing could be made permanent?
All Star Feature
Adding a one-click feature to the software installation management utilities out there would be an excellent idea in my opinion. So how did OpenSuSE do on my main desktop system?
*** out of *****
It was decent enough, but too many annoying glitches kept popping up, such as the Amarok update that refuses to either install or be removed from the update list. The setup confused me initially as well. Note that a 3 out of 5 score indicates a very decent system. Yes, I am setting the standards pretty high. 😉