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Feature: SUSE/openSUSE

openSUSE goes live

By Mayank Sharma on November 26, 2007 (4:00:00 PM)

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openSUSE is one of the most popular free-software-only distributions, and it's jointly developed by Novell and members of the community. In the first week of November the openSUSE developers released installable live versions of the distro's latest 10.3 release, one each for KDE and GNOME desktop environments. The live versions are replicas of their install-only cousins in terms of software, and apart from a few quirks, they seem set to replace the older versions soon.

openSUSE's current arsenal of releases include an install-only DVD, two installable live CDs, and two install-only CDs. The live CDs are currently available only for 32-bit hardware, whereas the install-only versions can power 64-bit and PowerPC computers as well. openSUSE 10.3 also distributes an add-on CD that packages several non-open-source software, such as the Opera Web browser, RealPlayer media player, and Acrobat PDF Reader. This CD is useful for saving bandwidth if you plan to install openSUSE 10.3 on multiple computers. If these permutations confuse you, use openSUSE's distribution selection interface to find the version that suits you.

Users will appreciate openSUSE's consistency across the releases. The installation screens across the live and install-only versions are almost identical. openSUSE 10.3's YaST installation program is simple to use and has enough information to guide new users through the various stages of installation. At the same time the installer is fully capable of tweaking the installation to meet expert users' needs. Apart from tinkering with the package selection and boot parameters, you can also add logical volumes or NFS partitions, and set up RAID 0, 1, 5, or encrypt the entire filesystem.

The only difference in the installer between the live and install-only CDs is the ability to add online software repositories during installation. In the install-only version, YaST allows you to add software from online repositories. This feature is missing from the installer bundled with the live versions, so you cannot install software from online repositories during installation, but you can do so once openSUSE is up and running.

For some reason the installer reads both FAT and NTFS Windows partitions on all my machines as Linux partitions. Another quirk is that the installer adds GRUB entries for all partitions, whether they have any operating system on them or not. It also incorrectly points to the Windows install as a Linux boot option.

While openSUSE doesn't actually change the partitions, it could confuse new users into formatting the wrong partition, especially if they're not used to Linux partition numbering. Partitioning is probably the most important aspect of installing a distro; there shouldn't be any bugs at this stage.

The live versions mimic the install-only versions in terms of appearance and software. In addition to GNOME 2.2.0 and KDE 3.5.7, all versions pack GIMP 2.4.1, OpenOffice.org 2.3.0, Firefox 2.0.0.6, and Pidgin 2.1.1. Of course, as with any other distribution, you can easily add new software from online repositories. Being a true community distro, openSUSE 10.3 allows you to enable third-party and community-supported and -maintained repositories as well for installing programs like VLC, GnuCash, Nvidia drivers, Google Linux apps, and hundreds more.

openSUSE has a clear and crisp desktop and includes the Novell variant of the KDE and GNOME menus, called Kickoff, which is designed to help users access common applications quickly. The customized GNOME menu is radically different from the traditional GNOME menu; if you're used to navigating through those menus, it could take you some time to get used to Kickoff. The customized KDE menu still has submenus, but instead of expanding to take up more screen space, submenus slide into the position of their parent menus.

On the hardware front, all versions of openSUSE 10.3, including the live CDs, work seamlessly on all my computers -- two Celeron laptops with clock speeds of 1.3GHz and 1.7GHz, and the two dual-core desktops, the 2.0GHz E4400 and the 1.8GHz E6300. openSUSE 10.3 is the first Linux distro that correctly identified and configured all components on my E6300 computer, which has Intel's DG965RY motherboard and a 19-inch wide-screen LCD monitor. Furthermore, openSUSE 10.3 detected all my USB devices (mice, portable disk drives, cameras) and a PCMCIA wireless card.

If you have PCMCIA wireless cards in your desktop box, openSUSE doesn't have any graphical utility for installing Windows drivers for cards that don't work in Linux natively. It does pack Ndiswrapper, but you have to install the drivers via the command line, and you can do this only after installing the distro. This means that if you are installing openSUSE on a machine that has a wireless card that runs only via Ndiswrapper, you can't install additional software from online repositories during installation.

I was impressed by the openSUSE 10.3 live CDs. If the developers can add the online repository install feature during installation from the live CD and iron out the partitioning and boot loader bugs, the installable live CDs will make good successors to the install-only CDs.

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on openSUSE goes live

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free as beer

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 24.248.89.66] on November 26, 2007 04:35 PM
Just a heads up, if it contains real, opera and adobe, then it's a free of charge distro, not a free software distro. The difference matters to some people within the community. It's good to see though that they are segregating it to a separate CD.

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Wise up

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 24.19.34.181] on November 27, 2007 07:14 AM
Most people don't care. --AC

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openSUSE goes live

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 213.136.144.247] on November 26, 2007 07:59 PM
I tried to launch it on my Toshiba Satellite Pro 6000 but it hangs. Piety.
Benny

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Re: openSUSE goes live

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 65.246.157.53] on January 21, 2008 06:58 PM
you might want to try noapic noacpi in your boot options. I have had various distros hang without these on my hp laptop.

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Re: openSUSE goes live

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 72.198.120.37] on February 04, 2008 05:45 AM
I tried openSUSE, and it seems to be the slowest, most resource intensive distros out there. I tried Ubuntu, and while I miss the slick interface its a favorable trade-off when compared to the time it takes to load software or new hardware on openSUSE

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openSUSE goes live

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 71.131.215.138] on November 26, 2007 09:38 PM
If this is true: "For some reason the installer reads both FAT and NTFS Windows partitions on all my machines as Linux partitions. Another quirk is that the installer adds GRUB entries for all partitions, whether they have any operating system on them or not. It also incorrectly points to the Windows install as a Linux boot option." it's another example of a distro being released with ZERO TESTING!

How the hell do you miss a bug like this doing ANY installation testing?

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Re: openSUSE goes live

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 24.73.100.98] on November 28, 2007 02:06 PM
It's not true. Must be a quirk with his box. My install picked up a fat32 partition as just that.

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openSUSE goes live

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 128.187.0.178] on November 26, 2007 11:12 PM
Does openSuSE come with GIMP 4.2.1 or 2.4.1?

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openSUSE goes live

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 122.167.89.185] on November 27, 2007 04:16 AM
Mayank,
Please edit the article and make it GIMP 2.4.1 instead of 4.2.1.
I am sure that we will not get GIMP 4.2.1 for another two years.

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Re: openSUSE goes live

Posted by: Mayank Sharma on November 27, 2007 08:12 AM
Done. Thanks for noticing.

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openSUSE goes live

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 59.182.146.19] on November 27, 2007 04:46 AM
I think you mean gimp 2.4.1 .. I really wish, though, that 4.2.1 were already released ;)

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Maybe 4.2.1 will

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 24.19.34.181] on November 27, 2007 07:16 AM
be usable. --AC

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openSUSE goes live

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 207.91.136.237] on November 27, 2007 05:01 AM
I appreciate the thoughtful comments made here. Earlier today I downloaded and installed the KDE Suse Live 10.3 into VMWare Server. It installed easily and performed well. I also downloaded the add-on CD and included it in the repositories. As such, I was able to install install other packages I wanted initially. My previous experience with a download of the install DVD was not pleasant. So far it appears that I can easily build on this current install (whether as a virtual appliance or normal install) and have the system I desire.
I am thankful to know about potential issues that may arrise when I perform a normal install.
This will be my other Suse. My SLED SP1 is quite stable and I enjoy it too much to just chunk it.

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openSUSE goes live

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 87.68.194.68] on November 28, 2007 09:25 PM
This is the most horrible LivedCD I've ever tried - even though I am using SUSE on both my desktop and laptop.

The LivedCD was unable to recognize and configure sound on my z61m laptop, though non-live Open SUSE 10.3
was able to do this - and now SUSE 10.3 is installed on that z61m.

OTOH, the latest live Sabayon DVD did everything fine on the same z61m.

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live is not live

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 70.20.110.8] on November 29, 2007 05:28 PM
I installed the KDE live CD version. Whereas my Ubuntu, Mint, and other distros worked well,
openSUSE kicks me to the command line at the end. It was graphical while it set up the distro,
but failed at the end.

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spam removed

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 85.98.47.206] on December 03, 2007 07:45 PM
I'm afraid your captcha is way too easy
[Modified by: Anonymous on December 07, 2007 09:40 PM]

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openSUSE goes live

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 59.92.123.37] on December 23, 2007 05:02 PM
I tried to install with openSUSE 10.3 DVD 64bit ver. It installed well but not booting up. Dear Mayank, can you help me. As a newbie to linux, I need ur advice.

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