Feeds

OpenSUSE 11.3 delivers spit, polish and niggles

Tabs, windows and hiccups

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

The latest version of openSUSE hit final code last week and is not due for official release until July 15, but The Reg is here to give you a tour of its pros and cons.

The free operating system has been somewhat maligned for its association with Novell, the Linux company that partnered with Microsoft and is now touting itself for sale, so it's perhaps unsurprising that the release comes on the heels of a new mission statement that seeks to create a bit of distance between openSUSE and Novell's commercial projects.

The project's community statement calls for the creation of an openSUSE Foundation to help foster a more open, active community of contributors.

Although Novell technically only sponsors the openSUSE project, three of the project's five board members are Novell employees, and historically openSUSE rarely strays too far from the stated goals of Novell's commercial SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop (SLED) distribution.

Clearly, the project would like to be seen as more than a proving ground for SLED — and with Novell busy on the MeeGo netbook distribution, there seems to be little resistance to openSUSE's assertion of autonomy.

An MP3 issue in openSuSE 11.3

Amarok reminds you that codecs are missing, but installing them is anything but automatic

Given that the latest openSUSE includes the Fedora-developed open Nouveau driver to improve support for Nvidia graphics cards (shipping with Fedora 13), an RPM-based package manager, and a similar commercial derivative coming from it, the openSUSE project is clearly taking some inspiration from the Fedora project.

But while the other changes — assuming they happen — could end up transforming openSUSE into something a bit more like Fedora, for the 11.3 release openSUSE still feels primarily like a typical openSUSE release. And that's both a good and a bad thing, based on the final-release code I tested.

One way that openSUSE differs from Fedora, Ubuntu and other popular distros is its love of KDE. Last year the openSUSE developers formally announced that KDE would be the default openSUSE desktop.

However, despite the emphasis on KDE, openSUSE remains one of the most desktop-agnostic Linux distros. The 11.3 release offers the same live DVD as previous release, including the GNOME, KDE and XFCE desktops, as well as just about every package under the sun. The only difference is that the DVD now selects KDE by default during the install.

Groups in OpenSUSE 11.3

Grouping windows streamlines your tasks and workflows

If you haven't got the bandwidth (or time) for the 4.7GB DVD download, there are live CDs with either GNOME or KDE.

While Linux installers have improved across the board, openSUSE's live install process has been always been a step above most distros. With an option to auto-partition your system with separate partitions for root, system, and home, as well as to automatically apply any available updates before you boot into your new desktop, openSUSE 11.3 is one of the smoothest installations I've done.

Underlying openSUSE is the latest Linux kernel, 2.6.34, which was still a release candidate when I tested the second openSUSE 11.3 release canidate. Hopefully it will have reached final release stage by the time openSUSE does likewise. Among other improvements, 2.6.34 adds some basic support for more recent Radeon graphics cards.

I tested both the GNOME and KDE desktops and found that, unlike Ubuntu, where the Kubuntu distro feels a bit behind the GNOME version, in openSUSE the KDE desktop is definitely the focus.

Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable

More from The Register

next story
NO MORE ALL CAPS and other pleasures of Visual Studio 14
Unpicking a packed preview that breaks down ASP.NET
Cheer up, Nokia fans. It can start making mobes again in 18 months
The real winner of the Nokia sale is *drumroll* ... Nokia
Mozilla fixes CRITICAL security holes in Firefox, urges v31 upgrade
Misc memory hazards 'could be exploited' - and guess what, one's a Javascript vuln
Put down that Oracle database patch: It could cost $23,000 per CPU
On-by-default INMEMORY tech a boon for developers ... as long as they can afford it
Google shows off new Chrome OS look
Athena springs full-grown from Chromium project's head
Apple: We'll unleash OS X Yosemite beta on the MASSES on 24 July
Starting today, regular fanbois will be guinea pigs, it tells Reg
HIDDEN packet sniffer spy tech in MILLIONS of iPhones, iPads – expert
Don't panic though – Apple's backdoor is not wide open to all, guru tells us
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Seven Steps to Software Security
Seven practical steps you can begin to take today to secure your applications and prevent the damages a successful cyber-attack can cause.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.