The DistRogue

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Review: openSUSE 10.3

After some assorted mishaps with some preview releases of openSUSE 10.3, it's finally stable enough for production use. And while I'm pleased with the result, I can't get rid of the feeling that the openSUSE team can do better.

OpenSUSE 10.3 brings some welcome changes. There's now a one-CD installation option, which is the biggest plus. I noted that a while back, and had trouble with configuring my wireless card because the drivers were on the non-OSS CD, while the rest of the system was on the main disk. 0.o That flaw has been fixed with the inclusion of the completely free/OSS iwlwifi drivers, making it the first distribution to use them correctly. (Fedora 7 shipped with an earlier, unstable, and terminally broken version of them.) The iwlwifi drivers go with a general theme of better hardware detection.
The install went quickly. For a change, I copied the ISO image onto my hard disk and booted into that, rather than burning a CD, and that sped up the installation a bit. The instructions are here. I still had problems with the display configuration (namely my mice), a bug that still needs to be fixed, but a little hacking in xorg.conf fixed it.
Wireless still has some problems. I entered my WEP key and watched as the network manager applet (note to openSUSE devs: nice job with that, YaST2 is a PITA for wireless configuration) tried over and over to connect to my network, failing every time. I rebooted, and that seemed to solve the problem.

YaST2 is still a top-tier package manager, even if it sucks for everything else. The search options are second to none, and the installs go rather quickly.

Performance is a perennial issue with openSUSE. It runs an unnecessarily large number of services, and that slows it down. The problem is that a lot of them are either vital, useful (SUSE firewall), or badly labeled (in which case it would be a good idea to leave them alone). GLXGears ran at about 1060FPS in KDE, and switching to FVWM didn't have much effect on that. Hmm. And i586-optimized distros are supposed to be fast...
openSUSE gave me my first look at KDE 4. for the most part, it was just a boring black background with a panel, a non-functional menu, and some desktop widgets. But it's a start. You can zoom into and out of the desktop, and the widgets show promise. Besides, this is only the second beta. It's an empty shell of a desktop right now, but it's a start.

I probably won't be using openSUSE as my main desktop. It's a good all-around distro, but it's designed to be a general-purpose distro. There's no one thing it's really good for, and the problems with performance and bugs are really putting me off.
-Much better hardware detection
-i586-optimized, so it *should* be fast
-Friendly as ever
-YaST2 means an annoyingly rigid system
-No real positives for some people
Friendliness: 4.5/5-
Still some bugs that need to be worked out, but it's still good.
Performance: 3/5- SLOW. This was a huge letdown for me.
Features: 4.5/5- KDE 4, Kickoff, network manager, YaST2...
Packaging: 5/5- As a package manager, YaST2 is still at the top of its class because of its search options.
Artwork: 2/2.5- I personally prefer the blue theme from 10.2, but the new green theme is still pretty good.
Community: 2.5/2.5- An IRC channel, a wiki, forums... Good enough for ya?
Overall: 4.3/5- A vast improvement over the last release, but there has to be something better.
I'm still looking for that "something better". I'll start with Debian.

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Blogger Tío Rubo said...

I suppose you're reviewing the RC1 because the final version is not supposed to be out until after tomorrow, right?

2:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You've been able to download the full version since the weekend, when they (quietly) populated the mirrors. Torrents are available. Check DistroWatch...

5:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I saw fragments of the review on other sites. But original review was more optimistic.. Probably you are a ubuntu zealot, so thats ok, I understand;D

2:33 PM  
Blogger DJ Gentoo said...

Actually, I try to stay away from Ubuntu. I don't know why, I just really don't like Ubuntu that much.

4:21 PM  
Anonymous Alessandro Serra said...

Ok, I do not have wireless so I cannot comment on that, but I installed it on my comp and all of the hardware, network etc. was properly detected at first sight, and everything is working fine and much, much faster than 10.2.
Even using a kernel still at 250 Hz.
The only criticism that I can make to Suse is that it seems to run nicely only with KDE.

11:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Am I the only one who finds the Package Selector interface very confusing...?

3:46 PM  
Anonymous Rastilin said...

A lot of the slowdown is caused by the Beagle deamon, after disabling it, it runs as fast as Debian. At least this is true for the final release.

6:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i just instaled the KDE Via Live CDand i am impresed. It ran even of my CD Drive and this computer is quite old compared to my other ones in my house. A huge improvemnet and i would recomend the live cd as you can test it out (The kde is probably the fastest and best one. owever that is a opinion).

3:35 PM  

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