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First Look at openSUSE 11.4

If you're looking for excitement, the openSUSE 11.4 release is probably not for you. On the other hand, Linux users who like boring, dependable, and usable should look a bit more closely. While openSUSE isn't chock full of changes, it does provide a solid no-nonsense distro for the adult in you.

Despite all the uncertainty around the Novell sale, the openSUSE community keeps plugging away. The 11.4 release is just a bit over a month away, and it’s looking very solid. A little dull, but solid.

openSUSE is on a bit of an unusual release schedule. On one hand, you’ve got Fedora and Ubuntu which come out every six months (give or take, in the case of Fedora). On the other, you’ve got Debian, which comes out whenever the Hell the Debian team decides that it’s bloody well ready. Somewhere in the middle, there’s openSUSE, which is on an eight-month release cycle.

From 2008 to early 2010, I used openSUSE on all my machines because I’m a firm believer in the “eat your own dog food” philosophy. The 10.3 release was a bit rough, but 11.0 through 11.2 were quite good, but I did get a bit restless at using just one distro. After leaving Novell I started playing with Linux Mint, Ubuntu, and Fedora a lot more frequently. Returning to openSUSE is sort of like going back to the old hometown: A few things have changed, but it’s mostly just as I remember it.

The last release (11.3) came out in July of last year, and the next release is scheduled for March 10. You can be relatively confident in that date — openSUSE was one of the last distros to feature a retail box (a legacy of the SUSE business prior to the company’s acquisition by Novell), and the development schedule and process still reflects the need to hit deadlines. Even though the final release is a month off, the 11.4m6 release (sixth and last milestone) is fairly solid. I ran into one instance of openSUSE mysteriously dropping my network connection, but I couldn’t replicate it. Other than that, the release has been very solid.

New KDE, Old GNOME

GNOME and KDE are supposed to be equally well supported with openSUSE, but KDE is the default if you use the DVD installer. You can opt for the live CDs, but the bulk of openSUSE users still go for the DVD and KDE — so I thought I’d take the opportunity to look at the new KDE as well.

openSUSE 11.4 will come with KDE 4.6 and GNOME 2.32. Because of the release schedule, openSUSE 11.4 will be a few weeks ahead of the final GNOME 3.0 release, but the KDE 4.6 release landed in January, so there’s plenty of time for the openSUSE folks to get that in shape for the release. A GNOME 3.0 spin of 11.4 should be along shortly after GNOME 3.0 is available, though.

SUSE/openSUSE has a long history with KDE, and it shows. I’ve tried the Kubuntu KDE 4.6 packages and openSUSE’s implementation — and openSUSE seems to do a bit of a better job with KDE in my opinion. On the same hardware (or same virtual machine), openSUSE seems a bit snappier. There are little touches as well. For example, when I run KDE in VMware and resize the display, the fonts are completely horked in Kubuntu — but resize just fine in openSUSE.

The default set of applications is a bit different as well. For example, Kubuntu folks get Rekonq as their default browser, while openSUSE is a bit more sensible and ships Firefox. Even better, the openSUSE folks have wisely opted to ship Firefox 4.0 beta rather than standardizing on the 3.6x series, which is more or less obsolete with Firefox 4.0 around the corner. As a rule, I think the openSUSE folks do a good job of balancing between shipping stable software and software that’s as new as possible.

But there are some disappointments with openSUSE as well. For example, the package selection is a lot narrower than the ‘buntu family or Fedora. Though I usually use Firefox, I like to install the Chromium package and keep up with that. But searching for Chromium turns up a big goose egg. Now, and I can anticipate the comments already, I bet I could find Chromium in an openSUSE Build Service repository. But having to add repository after repository to get a package gets old.

One of the things that’s new in 11.4 is, pardon the expression, zippier downloads and performance improvements in downloading packages. You’ll also find “cronie,” which is a replacement for the cron daemon, a preview of systemd, and dracut, which is a new initramfs infrastructure. All great stuff, but this is primarily stuff that’s being pulled in from Fedora, aside from Zypper development. The actual new and exciting stuff that’s actually originated from Novell/openSUSE seems very minimal. There’s a lot of pulling in technologies from Fedora and to a lesser extent Ubuntu (openSUSE 11.4 should have Unity packages as well as GNOME 3.0).

Tumbleweed and Evergreen

Though they’re not officially part of the 11.4 release, Tumbleweed and Evergreen are worth a mention.

Evergreen is the effort to extend support for openSUSE releases past the official 18 months. Right now, a small cadre of openSUSE contributors are working on 11.1, which officially went end of life in December. I’d give this about a 30% chance of making it to the end of the year. The folks who are working on it are working hard, but providing long-term support for a community distro is unrewarding work. This is why, after all, companies like Red Hat and Novell have a bunch of engineers on staff doing the work for the enterprise distros.

Tumbleweed is an effort led by Greg Kroah-Hartman to provide a rolling release distribution based on openSUSE. This has some potential — I’d like to see a solid, well-polished Linux distribution that offers major software like GNOME and KDE as they’re released, rather than waiting until the eight or six-month milestones. I wouldn’t recommend that model for, say, my family — but for Linux enthusiasts openSUSE Tumbleweed promises to be very interesting.

Good, but Conservative

Final verdict on openSUSE 11.4 so far? It’s very good, but very conservative — and there’s not a lot of innovation coming directly from the openSUSE camp when compared to Fedora and Ubuntu. But for KDE fans, openSUSE should be at the top of the list of distros to try (if not already using it, of course).

Even though I was using a “milestone” release, I didn’t run into any major glitches or crashes. I didn’t test it on a terribly wide range of hardware, but overall it seems very stable — but a little dull.

A lot of the focus is “under the hood,” where most users aren’t going to notice changes as long as they’re well-done. New Python, and D language support? Great if you’re a developer and want to use Python or D, users really don’t care much.

Then again, excitement isn’t all it’s cracked up to be if you’re just using a machine for day to day work. If you’re looking for a well-polished Linux distribution that emphasizes quality and stability, openSUSE is very much worth trying.

Comments on "First Look at openSUSE 11.4"

chdslv

You wrote this; On the other, you’ve got Debian, which comes out whenever the Hell the Debian team decides that it’s bloody well ready.

I thought I’d add my thoughts too. OpenSuse had been a very reliable distro all the time, but my thoughts are for Debian 6. Some ‘Linux’ websites had ahhs and oohs awaiting this Debian 6. Before that, some distros like, Aptosid, Crunchbang, Saline OS had good look into the Debian repos and made their distros in such a way so they’d immediately update to Debian Squeeze (and/or Sid) anytime the end-user wants that.

Debian 6 came in, but the end-users of above 3 distros got their distros upgraded without problems. Those, who awaited Debian 6 – the Universal Operating System, either had to download a ~4GB DVD or try with netinstall, core and maybe with something called “debian-6.0.0-i386-kde-CD-1.iso”, which is in itself 648MB. Note the name “KDE” and the 648MB!

Well, I must congratulate the Debian Team for waiting 24 months and gave us a chance to go back to the time of Atari and Commodore 64! Even those computers with their cassette loading systems worked faster than this “debian-6.0.0-i386-kde-CD-1.iso”!

After 2 hours or so, it only started with a command line! Lovely!
Hey, now where is this KDE? Hmmm..apt-get install kde? Yes, of course, wait another 2 hrs and 53 mins! Lavely!

I really loved my Atari and then commodore 64. I had a nice time with my son playing in those nice computers. while waiting for this 648MB CD to install, I remembered those nice times!

I think the Debian Team should learn from guys, who make “real” distros and leave the making of distros to them and go on making only files! I used to think Windows 7 as a pregnant cow, but what should I call this Debian 6? Pregnant Elephant?

Of course, there’s be lot of frothing Debian addicts, who’d like to blast me. If anyon eof them, who had installed from this “debian-6.0.0-i386-kde-CD-1.iso” inside 1 hour and had the KDE going, can do the blasting! I used a core 2 duo with 4 GB ram comp for this “installing”

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vansteen

Quite a non-sense comment by chdslv.

First, why does he complain about Debian below a post on Suse.

Concerning Debian, why spread fear, uncertainty and doubt? I installed a Debian-6.0 server in about 15 minutes, using the same “debian-6.0.0-i386-kde-CD-1.iso” that chdslv was using. No problem here.

chdslv was probably using a broken CD/DVD ROM player, or a scratched CD.

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chdslv

Oh, yes Vanteen, didn’t I say some Debian junkies would smart smarting!

Of course, this article is about Suse, but there was a very relevant sentence about Debian;”On the other, you’ve got Debian, which comes out whenever the Hell the Debian team decides that it’s bloody well ready.”

And that’s more than a whole article!

Vanteen, don’t you worry about my DVD writer. It is brand new and can use even scratched CD-RWs. I knew someone would say that, so I burned this “..KDE.iso” to 3 (three) disks. The first took so much time, I was wondering should I try the others. Yes, I tried the others too, but only until Debian kde.iso of 648Mb asked me to wait. Btw, I read a nice book while waiting.

Yes, I am very grateful to the Debian team, for taking me to the times of Atari and commodore 64. It reminded me that Commodore had a very good operating system in it!

After this nonsensical “installation”, I burned few CDRs with other operating systems and installed 3 different GNU/Linux operating systems to the same machine. Everyone worked.

Meego 1.1 booted up within few minutes. Imagine, Meego is for the netbook, not for laptops! No problem it booted up and even got itself installed within few minutes!

Sabayon KDE got booted up that fast too, only it took a little while to get installed. Ubuntu 11.04 alpha2 was just magic!

No, guys I won’t touch this Debian 6 again. I’d fight with Arch or Gentoo or Slackware rather than this Debian 6!

If you, my dear Vanteen can “install” this archaic operating system within an hour using “debian-6.0.0-i386-kde-CD-1.iso”, do it and prove it. If you can, Vanteen, install through netinstall or core within 3 hours, let us know.

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chdslv

Actually, Vanteen don’t lie!

“…I installed a Debian-6.0 server in about 15 minutes, using the same “debian-6.0.0-i386-kde-CD-1.iso” that chdslv was using..”

You can’t, even if you stand on your head! 15 minutes??? come on!

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kitfer

I agree with vansteen, this is a suse thread and pre-framing a rant about debian is still going off on a tangent, if you want to rant about debian do it in a debian thread, or at least a debian based thread, us suse users don’t want to hear a complaint about debian

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chdslv

Hello Kifer, This is “not” a Suse thread, but a Linux magazine article. And it very correctly states the following;

“On the other, you’ve got Debian, which comes out whenever the Hell the Debian team decides that it’s bloody well ready.”

Not my words, but the writer’s words. You should read his article thoroughly!

So, I took the opportunity to tell about my experience with a “new” or 24 months late Debian 6, which has so many DVDs, and NOT like OpenSuse, which even allows you to make your own distro in Suse Studio.

If you are a member of Suse studio, you may notice how easy to make your own distro and make an iso file. You may also notice that the “files” or “packages” don’t have to be that large as a Windows 7 minimalistic OS! Windows 7 doesn’t give you much, does it? Only few basic programs.

But, in Suse studio you can make a basic distro around 400Mb and download it and get into the internet immediately. And you’d have fun doing that. You can also test your “distro”, before downloading it. If it works in the testing, then it will work 1005 after you download it!

Most people don’t like the truth, just like the Egyptian Mubarak problem toady. All the Western leaders forgot that Egypt might open the border with Gaza and endanger the existence of Israel.

See, kitfer, the truth is quite hard to swallow.

Anyway, pal I am having fun with Suse Studio and building my own distro. If you have noticed that there is a place called Suse studio, you are lucky, if not find it in the OpenSuse website!

Why waste time with an archaic Debian, when we have OpenSuse and Suse Studio?

By the way, you are NOT a OpenSuse user. Period!

Try also Slitaz…

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    alcalde

    This magic sentence you keep quoting as your excuse to rant about Debian has nothing to do with what you’re talking about. That sentence refers to the time between Debian releases, not the time it takes to install Debian. Thus, your comments really are off topic. The article is about Milestone 6 of openSUSE 11.4 and reviewing other distros in your comments can’t be justified.

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kitfer

Multiple comments strung together make a thread, the title up the top says first look at opensuse 11.4, hence my perception that this is an opensuse thread linked to an article, I wasn’t looking for a fight simply pointing out that the article and corresponding thread is about opensuse and it is inappropriate to complain about debian here, if it wasn’t you complaining then the opinion wasn’t directed at you, it’s good to hear you’re having fun with suse studio

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alcalde

In openSUSE 11.3 Chromium is in the Main Contrib repository, not an obscure one. You don’t need to do any more than check it off under the list of Community repositories in the package manager.

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dsubrata

One thing I agree with chdslv, why put something that we won’t use on installation, why not make only minimalistic installation, no games, which I won’t play, no open office, probably I want to try Libre office instead, just plain simple OS, the rest we can download as needed, since it’s there and also free.
What I don’t agree, Debian is not perfect (I don’t use debian, but yes if you consider ubuntu is debian base), but nothing perfect, you don’t like it don’t install it.

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benclewett

Anybody know if it will, finally, and after many year waiting, install onto disks of more than 2TB in size?

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I am interested in linux and wish to get a copy of the linux 11.4 version . I have down loaded that from the internet through GOOGLE. But due to some unknown reason I am not able to install it in my computer. Will you please help me to get one copy capable for installing in my computer.Sometimes it is the defect on my side. Please send me a copy of the said version to my e-mail id. or send me a copy in a dvd disk to the following address. JOHN PETER l koch.20-10=2011
itcottagekochi|@gmail.com
JOHN PETER’ THOTTAKKUNNEL HOUSE,ARAKKUNNAM.P.O.; ERNAKULAM;KOCHI;
KERALA’ INDIA PIN: 682313

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Joe, you said:

(openSUSE 11.4 should have Unity packages as well as GNOME 3.0).

Please tell me this is NOT what is coming. I HAD until last week been a happy Ubuntu/ Gnome user. I decided to upgrade, and the “Unity” crap brought me back to SUSE. I had run SUSE back around 2003, and gave up after a failed dual boot left me with an unaccessable hard drive. My junk hardware left me with hardware issues in Suse, and after playing with a few Linux distros, I ended up with Ubuntu

But I have RESOLVED to stay with SUSE this time. Brand new Asus computer, brand new SUSE install. I do have a few issues.

UNITY??? NO NO NO NO NO

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Error while programming in java .
this problem repeats in some versions of opensuse(11.4 & 11.3)
program does not contains syntactical erorr (checked in fedora).
error occurs during compile time( shows some path and display such as main method in not defined).
what will be the reason???
please help.

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I am using linux 11.10 at my home. It is a very good operating system and I am enjoying it’s benefits . I wholeheartedly submit my thanks TO all those who worked for the production and promotion of that version. As it is available at free of cost, and is commonly used by all the school students in our Kerala state(INDIA),it is very useful for the whole population. Our state Government offices also are using and promoting the use of Linux , as it is absolutely free AND USEFUL. Common people and pupils at ordinary schools are very happy and highly thankful to the team behind the LINUX as WE are getting a great chance to use computer and internet programs at free of cost. Actually this contribution of the LINEX team is a very great service to the mankind; especially to the people and children who are not in a position to purchase the costly items for computer operation.
It is said ,Jesus Christ came to the world for saving sinners. The concept is that a person without guilty conscious will do good things in later life…relatively. The Linux came to the world though some good persons (most of them are males ) to save the poor people all over the world to save the people who are forced by evil spirits to use “pirated software”. The divine birth of Linux helps the humanity to be free from guilty conscious and thus paves way for leading a happy and more worthy life. Naturally this situation will “give birth” to good generation and stimulate the whole mankind to lead a worthy life dedicated to GOD ‘without guilty conscious’ – all over the world. I humbly submit my wholehearted thanks and love to the whole and each members of the LINUX TEAM – all over the world.
JOHN PETER – itcottagekochi@gmail.com JANUARY SEVENTH 2012

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