OpenSUSE 11.4: A blast from Linux past

OpenSUSE is back with a new, improved version, but it reminds me of how spoiled I've been by other Linux distributions.

By , ITworld |  Operating Systems, Linux, Novell

As usual with openSUSE releases, the package comes with a full assortment of server software. If you want to set up a Linux, Apache MySQL Perl/Python/PHP (LAMP) server, openSUSE gives you everything you need and easy ways to set up a file server, Web server, or whatever you need in the way of a basic server. This is one of the reasons why I've always had at least one openSUSE server running in my office for years now. It's just easier the openSUSE way.

As for the desktop, I like that this kernel includes the open Broadcom Wi-Fi drivers. It also includes the latest X.org and Mesa graphic driver for noticeably better 2D and 3D acceleration.

By default, openSUSE uses the KDE Plasma Desktop 4.6 desktop. I've had my ups and downs with the KDE 4.x desktop, but I've gotten to like KDE 4.6. OpenSUSE also makes it easier to control the desktop so you can get it working just the way you want... Except, that is, for the fonts.

I never was able to get the fonts looking quite the way I wanted. They were perfectly usable, but they just weren't that smooth. The overall impression was that I was using an older desktop even with all the gizmos and gadgets that come with the KDE Plasma Desktop.

If you prefer the GNOME desktop, you can also use the GNOME 2.32 interface. This distro also includes the the GNOME Shell, which is part of the forthcoming GNOME3, available for testing. I only played a little bit with GNOME on openSUSE. Once again, though, I wasn't happy with the fonts.

OpenSUSE also boasts that they're the first major Linux distribution to bring LibreOffice to the Linux desktop. That's open to debate, but I think LibreOffice is the best office suite for Linux I've ever used.

[ Open office dilemma: OpenOffice.org vs. LibreOffice ]

Built on top of OpenOffice, LibreOffice 3.3 brings excellent import and export tools for Microsoft Office 2007 and above OpenXML formats. I dislike these but since more and more businesses are using these formats, being able to work with them is becoming a business-critical feature. In addition, LibreOffice can also now import Adobe PDF, Microsoft Works, and Lotus Word Pro documents and has better WordPerfect document import facilities. LibreOffice is the answer to anyone who insists that you have to have Microsoft Office to trade documents back and forth.

OpenSUSE desktops uses Firefox 4 as its browser. I would have used Chrome, my favorite Web browser, but it's easy to install from the Chrome Web site.

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