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openSUSE 11 – Desktop Emphasis


Today, I completed my download of openSUSE 11.0 (after my recent Vista failure) and set about installing it. It was a DVD of the latest ISO from openSUSE. My machine is the same Acer Ferrari 5000 (2.0 GHz X2 AMD Turion 64, 2GB RAM, ATI X1600 Mobility Radeon).

I had said earlier that I was really going to put this one to the blade. Why? Because openSUSE 10.3 happens to be my favourite distro so far, and I was under the hope that this would be a good if not better. And I would test this with KDE 4, because that is the only real reason I would shift to 11.0 from 10.3


Much has already been said about this in other places. The install is good and pretty, etc, etc, but I found more than one point of dislike about it. On my machine (which has a 16:10 widescreen), the installer probably tried to adapt a 4:3 output to it. Bad stretchy result. Not that it does not do the same in other distros, but here, the very graphics make it look bad.

Secondly, I noticed a lack of options here: deep configuration was not available. For me, and half my LAN, wireless etc. being manually controlled, this was a step down. Finally, there was no update sequence.

Credit where credit due: the installation was smooth, painless, and fast.

Problems, to begin with…

Yes, I had problems to begin with. During the loading screen, the screen would go black and stop. The End.

I had to then go into Failsafe mode, configure my network (which had not been done during install), and install ATI drivers. The configuration turned out to be easy and effective – the Network Manager worked smoothly for me. The installation of the drivers also went well. What did not go so well was that the One-Click Install I had earlier tried to use from the openSUSE ATI Wiki installed the debug drivers for me along with the debug kernel! It was a manual install, then, by using the package manager to download the fglrx drivers. Finally, the use of sudo aticonfig –initial sealed the the new drivers.

Polished interface

I have used Vista for a long time. I have occasioned on the Mac too. But nothing could take away the very core beauty of openSUSE 11.0 running the full Oxygen theme on 1680×1050. Of course, work comes before style, but this – was – stunning.




Problems again…

The impact of the interface over, bugs and problems started cropping up again. Desktop Effects brought its own host of problems – plenty of them. Slow response on my powerful machine. Tearing. Hangs on resizing windows. Failing multiple desktops. In the end, it failed the Compiz test, and I ended up turning off the effects.

Note: Plenty of people ask why Compiz is so favoured during reviews. Well, quite apart from the bling, it offers greater usability and visibility, but that is not at all. It forms a powerful test of the graphics setup of the machine and its performance. Fail the Compiz test, and chances are that the machine is not graphically – or performancewise – optimized.

And the perfectly working applications…

Fortunately, other things seemed to work well. The [customized] OpenOffice was good [opening my *docx files from Word 2007]. GIMP worked well, so did Inkscape. Amarok needed plenty of codecs before it ran my very varied collection of music formats. The Konversation client worked well too.

But the Dolphin-Konqueror conundrum confused me. It appears that Dolphin is not even default (My Computer opens up in Konqueror). But I have no problems with that at all.

The default configuration of everything – the Kicker Menu, the tray applets, the widgets, and the desktop – was what made me happy. From my point of view, everything was just so balanced. But that, of course, is an opinion.

More good things

I was also shocked at the high stability of openSUSE 11. Compiz aside, the rest of the whole OS did not crash or hang even once! From what I had heard about KDE 4.0, I was expected lots of problems. The fact that everything held together came as surprise.

I also liked Yast2 a lot. The speed has improved (not that I ever really found it slow), but the power remains increased.

But most off all, I liked the way openSUSE has everything for everyone. Sounds a little far-fetched, and some people may call it an idealization with lack of direction, but I fail to see where one can fault them for providing so much on a single DVD.

But would I keep it?

I am highly tempted to let the negatives weigh heavily, and say no, and go back to SUSE 10.3 with its old KDE 3.5.

It did not work out of the box for me – I had to spend quite some time messing around to make it work fully (even then, Compiz a.k.a graphics causes problems).

But once that was done, I was in love with it.

Working in openSUSE 11 after the troubles of Vista and the whims of other OSs was a magical experience. Things seemed to get done. Everything was available in a few clicks. The relatively small problems aside, I had a good time.

So would I keep it? Actually, I have already kept it.

Update: I have received comments about the deep configuration that I missed. It seems there is an option to disable this “automatic” configuration, but frankly, I either missed it, or it did not exist for me. Likewise, it seems that the updates have been integrated into the ‘add on’ section via a check mark.

But what I really missed was a mention of Zypper. How could I miss it? It is fast, powerful, and flexible. No longer is apt-get of Ubuntu the king. Besides, YaST integrates well with Zypper – indeed this Zypper may be one of the reasons SUSE’s package management is now so fast!

Thanks to Anubisg1 for bringing it to light.

Categories: linux Tags: , , , ,
  1. Seventh Reign
    24 August 2008 at 4:29 PM

    KDE 4 is still not ready as most linux users know. Why not try try OpenSUSE 11 with KDE 3.5 instead. Its much more usable.

  2. Michael Papatheodorou
    24 August 2008 at 7:49 PM

    Why don’t try instead the KDE 4.1 Live CD made by the openSUSE team?

  3. 24 August 2008 at 8:33 PM

    Suse is indeed a slick looking distro, and if the package management is truly improved, it may be more usable than it used to be.

    Unfortunately though, Suse is owned by Novell, who has formed alliances with Microsoft. Since Microsoft is the deadly enemy of Linux, I cannot in good faith recommend Suse to anyone.

  4. Miguel
    25 August 2008 at 3:44 PM

    I recommend you to intall 4.1, from once click install. It’s VERY stable (I disagree profoundly with Seventh) and it has many many adavantages over 4.0. I’ve been to KDE4 (with suse) since December so I know what I talk about.

    I agree with you that Suse has the look and the tools but needs to improve the out of the box experience. The day this happens it’d be the most competent distro out there.

  5. Sid
    25 August 2008 at 9:18 PM

    OpenSuSE 11 KDE 4.1 live CD works very well. I don’t agree that KDE 4 is not stable. I am a happy user of KDE 4.1 for quite a long time and up to date, OpenSuSE has good support for KDE 4.1.

  6. 25 August 2008 at 9:29 PM

    “Why don’t try instead the KDE 4.1 Live CD made by the openSUSE team?”

    I did.

    It is a useless fiasco.

  7. 26 August 2008 at 9:18 AM

    @ Seventh Reign: It is stable enough. But notice my opening salvo – if one is to use KDE 3.5, why not stick with the highly stable and tested SUSE 10.3?

    @ Michael Papatheodorou: Yes, it is worth a try, but that is not the preferred installation medium of SUSE. The official indications lean towards the DVDs. Lets just wait for SUSE 11.1, shall we?

    @ fstephens: I absolutely disagree. I will be making a full post out of it, and if you allow me, I will contact you then.

    @ Miguel: True!

    @ Sid: Have not tried it, but probably is, from all the comments I am getting 🙂

    @ David Smith: You opinion, though the minority, is valued. If I review it, I will be very critical.

  8. 26 August 2008 at 11:57 AM

    @ fstephens

    i really disagree.. you MUST say thanks to NOVELL if you have an OOo plugin able to open OOXML stuffs..you MUST say thanks to NOVELL if you have moonlight, you MUST say thanks to NOVELL about licenses stuffs and lots other things


    i red that:

    Secondly, I noticed a lack of options here: deep configuration was not available. For me, and half my LAN, wireless etc. being manually controlled, this was a step down. Finally, there was no update sequence.

    are you sure??? you have to remove check from “auto-configuration” when you choose the new installation… so you can go on “deep configuration”

    @ about compiz

    you know that compiz is a kind of game only and unstable anyway, and the version on DVD was the one with NO itegration in kde4..try the one in repository X11:XGL or use the native KDE4 effects.

    you forgot to talk about zypper… now is finally faster and easy to use like apt.. no more excuses for “ubuntuers”

    at the end suse 11 + kde 3.5 is one of the best distro never used (if not the best absolutly)

  9. 26 August 2008 at 11:58 AM

    i forgot about “update sequence”

    like you remove check from “auto-configuration” you have to add check to “add add-on” then will made you able to add repositories (default are Updates, OSS and NON-OSS)

  10. 26 August 2008 at 1:41 PM

    @ Anubisg1: Thank you for your comment. I heartily agree with the Novell part. Its part of the same hate-the-linux-bigwigs syndrome.

    As for the deep configuration, I did not notice it. I am not sure whether I simply overlooked it (in which case I slipped up), or whether it was not there.
    Compiz may be a game – but that is precisely what I pointed out in my note.
    I have already updated my post with regards to the update sequence and of course, Zypper. Thanks for reminding me!

  11. Rome
    26 August 2008 at 7:47 PM

    At first I hated the ideal, but knowing that MS isn’t going anywhere is – just the truth. Linux will be in more places because of them working together. The number of BSOD will be smaller in the years to come hopefully
    I’ve been using OpenSUSE 11 for two weeks now and I like it.

    Whats you take?

  12. stasik
    27 August 2008 at 7:57 PM

    i didnt like kde 4 in suse 11, so i use kde 3.5 in suse 11 and it is fantastic. and dont judge the os creators for the boss deals with bill. after all we use the os, which is fantastic

  13. avdhoot
    1 September 2008 at 9:33 AM

    KDE 4.1 is rocking!!!!!.

  14. 1 September 2008 at 8:47 PM

    @ Rome: Sorry your message did not appear immediately, it got caught up in my spam filters (the two links, you know…)

    I love openSUSE! As for the interop thing, I posted a whole new one at that: http://superphysics.awardspace.com/2008/08/27/why-novell-opensuses-so-called-deal-with-microsoft-does-not-matter/

    @ avdhoot: Just keeping my fingers crossed for SUSE 11.1!

  15. zak
    6 September 2008 at 7:55 PM

    “Unfortunately though, Suse is owned by Novell, who has formed alliances with Microsoft. Since Microsoft is the deadly enemy of Linux, I cannot in good faith recommend Suse to anyone.”

    Ahem, do your homework first, sir. openSUSE is a community owned open-source project, SPONSORED by Novell, that is, Novell pays a team of devs to work full time on openSUSE. In return they market their own tweaked proprietary Linux solutions for enterprises. Novell knows that its Linux systems must work well with MS products in order to be of any value to modern enterprises, so it struck a deal with MS to do just that. The Novell-MS deal affects openSUSE is absolutely no way, and “boycotting” Novell by boycotting openSUSE is sheer madness. openSUSE has no control over what business decisions it’s sponsor makes. This is like boycotting a charity because you don’t like one of the donors. Grow up, people! openSUSE is one of the best distros around, and it is in many ways far ahead of other distros in its potential to put MS Windows in its proper place.

  16. 7 September 2008 at 11:10 AM

    @ zak: Excellent. I myself of the same opinions, just check out my post at http://superphysics.awardspace.com/2008/08/27/why-novell-opensuses-so-called-deal-with-microsoft-does-not-matter/

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