The DistRogue

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Report from the bleeding edge: openSUSE 10.3 Alpha 7

The latest development snapshot on openSUSE 10.3 is supposed to be a great release. KDE 4 components (games and PIM, among others) starting to get integrated, a new single-CD install architecture, new packaging options... It's going to kick Ubuntu's behind! Right?
Always the skeptic, I decided to try it. I downloaded the images (KDE desktop and non-OSS addons) and burned not the advertised one, but two, disks (and if you want GNOME *and* KDE desktops, it'll be 3). I then started the install.
The first attempt was a disaster. Restructuring the packages for one CD had seriously screwed stuff up. I tried it a second time with only the KDE CD, and at least got past the install.
Then, I hit trouble in X. 0.o... A few well-placed # signs later, I was on my way to KDE. Alpha 7 brings with it a new color scheme, a nice industrial green that would look a lot better with the traditional blue. ;) Oh well...

I'm learning to appreciate the Kickoff menu, and the idea of being able to access most of my programs with just one click. For non-SUSE-ers, here's the idea: The menu opens when it's moused over, rather than only when it's clicked on. There are different tabs for commonly used programs, all other programs, administration, and other tasks. These tabs can be switched by mousing over them, rather than clicking them. It's also pretty amazing how they managed to keep with this philosophy while giving it a Windows-ish feel for incoming users. The amazing thing is that even though the standard KDE menu we know and love is in a different tab than the one that comes up, programs still can be launched with one click less than it would take on Kubuntu.
Still, the Kickoff I used had some problems. Sometimes, it refused to launch when I moused over it, other times, the tabs wouldn't switch without being clicked. Geeko the openSUSE gecko still changes colors, though, and looks cute as ever.
Wireless didn't work without the second disk, so I "upgraded" the system to do nothing more than install ipw-firmware- a feature that openSUSE has that most other distributions still lack. It now shows up under YaST2, but not ifconfig, and I'm fixing that as I type.
So, let's see what the developers still need to fix:
-X mouse configuration (Synaptics touchpads, to be specific)
-Package breakage and "RPM hell"
-Kickoff menu
Not much to do in 2 months, is there? These are basic problems that you get from living on the bleeding edge. I bet Ubuntu's "Tribe" CDs for version 7.10 are pretty unstable, too. In fact, this is only the third alpha to use the single-CD architecture- which caused some major breakage.
When openSUSE 10.3 comes out in early October, it'll be a force to be reckoned with. Until then, keep an eye on the development.

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