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

Some of the other application choices struck me as a little odd. I'd expected openSUSE to use the outstanding Banshee 1.8 media player, but instead Amarok 2.4 is the default media player.

Also, instead of using my number one email client of all time, Evolution, the developers used KMail and Kontact. I know, of course, that Evolution is a GNOME-based application, but personally on any KDE desktop that I use, one of the first things I do is to install Evolution and however much of GNOME it needs to run. Be that as it may, KMail and Kontact actually worked quite well.

It was while installing Evolution and some other programs though that I realized how spoiled I've gotten by Mint's Software Manager and Ubuntu Software Center. It's just so much easier to install new programs with them. There are time I appreciate openSUSE's do-it-all administrative program Yast, but there are times when I don't want to OK every last library I'll need to install a new program. I just want to install a new program; the package manager can worry about making sure I have all the software libraries, not me.

It's not that openSUSE is any worse. It's as good as ever at installing programs. It's just that the bar has been set higher.

On the plus side, openSUSE now includes Tumbleweed, a rolling-release repository. This enables you to easily get the latest stable versions of open source programs for your copy of openSUSE. If you want to live on the cutting edge of open source, the popular third-party openSUSE software repository crew at Packman are also supporting for Tumbleweed. For me, Packman has always been an essential software 'store' for SUSE Linux programs.

OpenSUSE also makes it easy to work with Windows systems. For example, it's easy to read and write files in a Windows directory on the same hard drive.

I also really liked openSUSE's multiple virtualization stack support. OpenSUSE supports not only Xen, which Novell has done for years but it also supports VMware Workstation/player drivers, the latest VirtualBox, and Kernel-based Virtual Machine (KVM).

Taken all-in-all, I still like openSUSE. I plan on updating my two openSUSE servers to openSUSE 11.4 shortly. As a desktop though... well it works for me and I'm sure it would also work for anyone else who's comfortable with older Linux distributions. If you're a newer Linux desktop user, I fear you'll find openSUSE isn't that friendly. Think of it as the difference between driving a manual transmission car and one with automatic transmission and you won't be far off in the overall effect. Of course, there are times that you want a manual transmission, and for those days openSUSE is a fine choice.

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