An Unusual Experience With openSUSE 10.2

Yesterday was a gray, rainy day in the Bay Area. No chance for a bike ride, and I procrastinated until it was too late to go to the gym and take a spinning class. I've been wanting to upgrade my OS on my home computer, a screaming, dual-Opteron Sun Ultra 40, for a while now but didn't have the free weekend I figured I'd need to do it. But now with all this free time on my hands...

I considered trying Ubuntu 6.10 (Edgy Eft) but remembered what happened the last time I tried installing Ubuntu. I booted up the install CD and the OS froze when it got to the screen when you click the icon to install the thing. Seems as though the Ubuntu installer it didn't like my Logitech diNovo Bluetooth Keyboard and Mouse. I couldn't find anything about this problem on Google, and I didn't have another mouse and keyboard I could switch out for the installation. So I decided I liked my diNovo more than I liked Ubuntu, so I decided to try SUSE 10.2.

SUSE 10.1 has been reasonably good, although there were problems with the software updater early in the release cycle. Fairly early on, maybe a couple of months into the release cycle, the problems got worked out and it has operated flawlessly ever since.

So yesterday I decided I still liked my diNovo better than Ubuntu, so why bother with Ubuntu? I downloaded SUSE 10.2, burned a DVD, and started the installation.

That's when I had my unusual experience.

SUSE 10.2 installed flawlessly, and I did not encounter a single problem getting all my software and hardware working with it. (Well, there was one minor issue with Thunderbird. More below.)

This was something I had never had happen with a Linux distribution. I usually allow a full day for installing and working out issues, then a few days to get everything just right. In this case, I started the installation at around noon, and was done with all my system configuration around 2.

Kudos to whoever at SUSE is responsible for making 10.2 so easy to get up and running!

There seems to be a drumbeat among Linux tech types lately that "Ubuntu is the distribution you want to have." I don't get it. I like Ubuntu, but I don't think it is any better than SUSE. And, I have run into problems getting it to install with my diNovo, and getting it to display in the screen resolution I want (a well known issue with Ubuntu), and I don't care for the look and feel (all that brown - yuck - looks so seveties). When I first used Ubuntu, apt-get was a compelling reason to switch to this distro. But now that zen seems to be working well in SUSE (probably just in time to switch to yet another package installer in SUSE.next), that advantage has gone away.

Here are some things I really like about SUSE 10.2:

  • It installs non-OSS packages that I need, like Acroread and Flash
  • zen installer works well (with one exception - see below)
  • You can now get an ISO for the OS on a single DVD - no more 5 CD sets
  • Nice clean default look and feel
  • Everything works

Here are some SUSE 10.2 lessons learned:

  • You can't install Thunderbird using zen. You have to go to YAST for some reason.
  • You now add fonts to /usr/share/fonts instead of the old X11R6 location. I suppose this is part of the Xorg upgrade.

Here are general things that you might find helpful if you are installing SUSE:

  • If you need to add a user with a user number greater than 60000, you have to use the CLI. The GUI tools do not let you add users with high user numbers.
  • If you want to use CUPS from a browser, you have to add a user with lppasswd.
  • If you use VMWare, make sure you have the most current update before installing a new Linux kernel.
  • If you hate beagle (desktop indexer) like I do, disable it by removing the cron script out of /etc/cron.daily. I created a directory called /etc/cron.never just for this pig, which SUSE installs and has you run by default. You can get rid of all the files in your .beagle directory. I had 2 GB of these on my system before I removed them, and they were all little bitty files that made my system backups take forever. Couldn't someone come up with something better?

It's still raining. Off to spinning class.

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