last part penultimate part of my distro installfest was a stab at running OpenSuse 12.1 (though version 12.2 is due out soon).
+ Nice installer visuals (until the bit where it blasts back to a pile of command line gobbledygookery)
+ Pretty much automates everything, but gives you the power to edit/correct it when needed. Nice installer, basically. And very set-and-forget: all the questions are front-loaded, so you can walk away and let it complete
- Defaults to KDE or Gnome 3, so you have a choice of two horrors!
+ XFCE is available from the “others” list (and is what I chose to test on subsequently)
+ This is the distro Larry should have bought. Making Oracle install seamlessly on it would have allowed differentiation between it and Red Hat, instead of which he chose to use-then-change Red Hat itself. Had he bought OpenSuse, we’d have all been scrabbling around for OpenSuse compatibility, and Red Hat/Fedora/Centos/etc would be on the sidelines playing catch-up.
- – -Suse is dying. I really don’t want to hitch my coat-tails to the Attachmate bus, whoever they are.
- It’s billiously green! Obviously, only a wallpaper change away from sanity, but come on…
- XFCE menu is at the bottom of the screen by default, but it can be moved
- Video ‘tearing’ scrambles the desktop display (lots of vertical lines everywhere if you drag a window, for example: see screenshot. Happens in no other distro tested)
- Firefox 7.0.1… a bit dated by now, putting it mildly
- There appear to be three terminal applications in the System menu: 32-bit terminal, terminal and XTerm. Why do I need all three??!
+ LibreOffice (but only 3.4.2 …but Calc gets a million rows anyway)
- GIMP is only at 2.6
+ Shotwell is there by default
+ Remmina remote RDP client (so connecting to Windows boxes graphically is easy)
+ Good screensavers
+ Good desktop look/feel once compositing enabled (this is more a XFCE thing, I guess)
- No obvious way to re-configure network settings (there is: it’s called YaST. YaST configures *everything*, but unless you knew that, I don’t think you’d stumble across the right things very often! Even knowing it, though, I couldn’t readily find the tool to configure and initialise a network: clue is, you want Network SETTINGS, not Network DEVICES. Obvious, really. Not.)
+ Feels ‘snappy’. Don’t know why: it’s just the same VM as everything else, but it feels “sharp”. Perhaps this is just the consequence of using XFCE instead of Gnome??
- Difficult to get Thunar (the file browser) to browse my network shares. Don’t know why, but it just kept saying it wouldn’t browse, so I had to type in an “smb://192.168.x.y..” address to make it go somewhere.
- Default file handler for FLAC is Totem (the movie player) which crashed every time I tried playing a file. Open the same file in Rhythmbox, it played fine first time.
- – Totem kept on crashing when asked to play MKV video, too. In fact, no video got played on this installation whatsoever. Making this distro unusable and causing me to give up at this point…
I retain a soft spot for Suse, having paid for the original 7.2 way-back-when. But it was always a slightly “peculiar” distro: it never worked quite like Red Hat, or stored things exactly where Red Hat did, but it wasn’t Debian either. Being neither one thing nor the other could make it unique, I guess… but it can also make it simply annoying.
In this case, I fear the annoying wins out. The default software is old(ish); the video performance (albeit in a virtual machine) is just broken, in a way no other distro appears to experience. Similarly, this is the only distro I tried which couldn’t play a simple FLAC file without the application crashing… that’s “unique with a strong hint of very odd”. I also found YaST difficult to get on with: it’s a rag-bag of configuration utilities, but finding the right one to do something is harder than it sounds and much harder than it ought to be.
I fear the worst part of OpenSuse is that it’s no longer got the heft of Novell behind it. Attachmate (who they? -ed) bought them out way back in 2010. Development of OpenSuse presses on, for sure… but I can’t help experiencing a sinking feeling all the same.
In the end, it’s probably just not worth the hassle: hitching yourself to a set of peculiarities might be acceptable in some circumstances, but not these. Here, you just get an odd distro that doesn’t seem to virtualise well and which has a dubious future, at best. Not something I can get excited about, to be honest.
I had originally intended this to be the last part of the Installfest and that I’d soon be declaring a winner, but regular commentator Ales has persuaded me to give Fedora 17 KDE a whirl. Additionally, Windows 8 is now released to manufacturing, so I might as well put my Technet subscription to good use. So expect one final, thrilling episode early next week.