Distro Comparison: openSUSE 10.3 first impressions

I don’t know if I can last an entire week with openSUSE 10.3. I can’t believe I even thought it possible. I am jonesing for Fedora right now, even though any other distro would probably do…

What’s wrong with SUSE you ask? Just about EVERYTHING! I’m not comfortable at all in this rancid environment. It sucks the life right out of you. I hope some SUSE people come running to save me from this turmoil I feel as I currently hate using this distro. Here’s my first impressions: (beware, the list is rather long)


The items below are positives and the openSUSE team deserves credit for all of their hard work in these areas.

  • Wireless works (+1)
    • My Intel wireless card from my T60p is recognized and associates with my access points
  • The nautilus-open-terminal package is enabled by default (+2)
    • This is the right-click on desktop –> Terminal option, (something severely lacking in fedora and not easily installed in a kickstart)
    • Having this feature, its very simple to get started with the terminal which is definitely needed for the power user in me
  • Install allowed me to choose not to use their grub (0) [while this is nice, if I had installed their grub, it would have wiped out my fedora grub components]
  • zypper is much improved over the previous rug (10.1) tool (+1)
    • still needs work though
    • easy to add repos compared with fedora
      • packagekit can solve much of the incontinuity in fedora
      • though its nice to have a simple gui to add repos, knowing which repos is still a bit of an exercise in futility.

Positive Score: +4


Whle there is some good in openSUSE, its apparent to me that there is much to be improved.  As noted below, many more things are in need of improvement, to put it nicely.

  • The install takes much longer than necessary (-3)
    • Still uses ugly YAST text user interface
      • YAST didn’t recognize my video driver, but could have just used the VESA driver for the gui install
    • Asks too many questions about details that could easily be simpler
    • Did not work well with other OSes (GRUB)
      • YAST installer wanted to overwrite my fedora GRUB configuration, shouldn’t Linux play well with each other in this sense?
  • One-click install is more like 10-click (-1)
    • From opensuse.org, you can do what is called a “one-click install”, and about 8-10 clicks later its installed. If its one-click, its should be one (maybe two) clicks total.
  • The initial GNOME config of openSUSE is too Windows-like (-1)
    • If I wanted my Linux desktop to look like Windows, I’d use KDE (or even run Windows)
    • It has only one bar, and at the bottom, not enough room for status apps
    • I had to add workspaces as only one was provided by default, that seems limiting
  • bluez-gnome doesn’t have hidd or any sort of recognition for my bluetooth mouse (or anyone’s bluetooth mouse, for that matter) (-2)
  • The bash prompt is ugly – (0)
    • This one is a personal preference, but its hard to tell when I am the root user and when I am not. As such, I will modify my .bashrc and fix the PS1 value
  • The wireless driver for my T60p is not the new iwl3945, but the ipw3945 proprietary from intel – (-1)
    • The open driver has been out for quite some time
    • Proprietary codecs were not easy to find, nor install (0)
      • Fedora doesn’t make this simple either really.  Yet, when I found them in Fedora they worked first try, gstreamer failed miserably several times in openSUSE
      • an attempt at a codec buddy like tool was made, but doesn’t work…
    • zypper does not inform you of the dependencies needed to install even though it reports how much it will download (-1)
      • I want to know what packages I’ll be installing before I install them

    Negative Score: -9

    Total score for day 1:  -5 OOPS – that’s not good!

    To be honest, I think I’m being very generous in some of the points I’m giving.  OpenSUSE makes it very difficult for my lifestyle so far.  I’m not sure what they can do with 10.3 to make it better, but I’d like to hear comments and suggestions on ways to help.

    I’m sure hoping that day two will be better.  I’m already starting my list and will be testing such things as; video, development, lvm, raid, kvm/xen virtualization and much, much more.  As I continue to suffer through this bluetoothless mouse world openSUSE has created for me.

    Cheers until tomorrow,


    This entry was posted in Bash, Fedora, GNOME, Guru, Install, Networking, Suse, Tech and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

    14 Responses to Distro Comparison: openSUSE 10.3 first impressions

    1. Livio says:

      So, you’ve tested it too.

      I like GNOME’s apps and some other extensions in SUSE, like gnome-main-menu, YaST-GTK (the control center idea and the modules), but it’s behaviour and UI layout, available options.

      SUSE has great artwork, as usual, I wish Fedora would have so great artwork in 9 (8 had that, but non-tango Fedora logo).

    2. herlo says:


      While I agree that some of the GNOME features in SUSE are good, I’d say that the artwork isn’t any better or worse than Fedora. In fact, I’d say that you haven’t either looked at Fedora in a while or just have a different preference because I find Fedora much more appealing than the SUSE green.

      Thanks for your comment though, I’m really excited to see the feedback and want to really give openSUSE a try.



    3. sontek says:

      They kept ipw3945 in there because of specific bugs in iwlwifi, they covered it in the release notes: http://www.suse.com/relnotes/i386/openSUSE/10.3/RELEASE-NOTES.en.html

    4. herlo says:


      Sure, but its been several months and no update from the openSUSE team. Fedora ran with iwlwifi driver and while it originally had issues, its been stable for a good month now in F8. Oh, and thanks for the release-notes. I’ll review them and try out some of the good things in there…



    5. apokryphos says:

      The point of 1-click-install is that it reduces the following steps to 1-click:
      * locating the repository a package/application is in
      * adding that repository
      * selecting that package for installation

      Instead of taking all those steps to do it, the whole process is initiated via 1 click. After that it’s a simple wizard that you can just press next (if you don’t select advanced), enter your root pass (which is obviously required), and you’re there.

      > Asks too many questions about details that could easily be simpler

      It’s a wizard. Wizards give you options, but if you don’t want them you can very easily just keep clicking “Next”.

      “Too windows-like” criticisms seem like such a cop-out. Honestly. The changes in the interface were done by open and public usability studies which you can check for yourself on the website. The new menu and other changes have been proven to work much better with users of various skills and backgrounds.

      > This one is a personal preference, but its hard to tell when I am the root user and when I am not.

      The whole prompt goes red when you are root; what are you talking about?

      > Proprietary codecs were not easy to find, nor install (0)

      Really? MP3 comes out of the box on the DVD, or with Banshee/Amarok a dialog pops up to ask you if you want to install MP3 support. No so bad, is it? Anyway, almost any reasonable search term on Google would find you the right codecs link.

      > zypper does not inform you of the dependencies needed to install even though it reports how much it will download

      Of course it does. Do you have an example?

    6. apokryphos says:

      > though its nice to have a simple gui to add repos, knowing which repos is still a bit of an exercise in futility.

      That’s why there’s YaST -> Community Repositories.

    7. - says:

      Install time

      – takes about 15mins on my machine, the default is to include software from the online repositories which might be slow if you have a slow internet connection. Simply uncheck the appropriate tickbox during installation if you don’t want this. It does help less experienced people have a more complete experience out of the box.

      – Doesn’t use yast text user interface unless the graphical one fails for some reason, and it should fall back to vesa. You could try telling it to use a lower resolution at the boot prompt instead. I havn’t seen this fail myself, file a bug report with your graphics/monitor configuration and logs and maybe it can be fixed.

      – Installer will overwrite your grub with its own grub, but it should configure sections for all your other OSes, if it did not in your case please file a bug report.

      – One click install is more clicks in gnome using firefox, it’s is a bit fewer in konqueror. Also some of the GNOME codec ymps cause conflicts, e.g. gstreamer, which will require resolving manually.
      Best case 4 clicks. “one click” is somewhat misleading but the name stuck. Truely one click would provide no means for user to check it wasn’t going to complete break his system.

      – GNOME windows like appearance is a matter of preference, over 70% of openSUSE users and most contributors use KDE anyhow.

      – bluez-gnome – there are lots of GNOME bugs, number of users testing GNOME is relatively few compared to kde.

      – Bash prompt is ugly? In what way?

      – Root user prompt is shown in bright red? and doesn’t show the username unlike as a normal user how could it be clearer that you’re root?

      – Some proprietary codecs are installed by default if you include non-oss repository during installation (default), mp3 is for instance. If there’s no mp3 support you’ll be guided through installing it if you’re using amarok. This is something that can be improved though. If you manage to find the FAQ page you can use a one click install. The KDE one works fine, although the GNOME one has a gstreamer conflict.

      – Gstreamer problem has been reported, the KDE one using libxine works fine.

      – What about the codec tool fails? works for me from amarok.

      – zypper does inform you of the dependencies needed to install. “The following packages will be installed …” “The following packages will be removed ” etc.

      In summary most of the problems you encountered were down to useing the less used GNOME version. Some are bugs which can be fixed if you report them.

    8. Ani says:

      Your comment “If I wanted my Linux desktop to look like Windows, I’d use KDE (or even run Windows)” does not make much sense. Its similar to saying: “Fedora has two bars, if I wanted my desktop to look like OS X I would switch to Mac”.
      Also with many new screens coming in widescreen format using two horizontal bars is a big waste of vertical space. Especially taking into account the fact that the top bar is not a real menu bar, so when you launch an application you can have up to 7 horizontal bars:
      1. Top menu bar.
      2. Applications title bar.
      3. Application’s menu bar.
      4. Application’s icon toolbar.
      5. Application’s tab bar. (Sometimes. Firefox for example)
      6. Status bar.
      7. Bottom task bar.

      Windows Vista’s approach of having only one horizontal bottom task bar, and a vertical sidebar for extra gadgets, make more sense for current widescreens. Apple’s approach of replacing the top menu bar with application’s menu bar also makes more sense, than Fedora’s default behavior. In that respect I think that OpenSUSE’s default GNOME configuration is more logical, than Fedora’s.

    9. sway says:

      Ouch, sounds too strict to me:)
      – iwl3945 is maybe opensource, but I want a fully working driver (yes, I really insist in working WiFi LED). And thats only ipw driver. ( 2)
      – F8 install didn’t work at all on my laptop. I spent about hour and half googling for solution. openSUSE was installed within 30 minutes. And openSUSE install even correctly recognized Vista install and haven!t destroyed that partition. ( 1)
      – F8 or Ubuntu have that nasty “HDD damaging” bug, openSUSE doesn’t. (thats for me at least 4)

      I really dont think openSUSE deserves that bad first impression. You should give it a second chance:)

      (I apologize for comparing with F8, but I haven’t tried any other distro on my laptop)


    10. lejocelyn says:

      Fedora’s Grub doesn’t recognize other Linux distribustions (and I guess BSD too) already installed.

      I don’t have any color by default on fedora…

      “The initial GNOME config of openSUSE is too Windows-like (-1)

      * If I wanted my Linux desktop to look like Windows, I’d use KDE (or even run Windows)”

      KDE looks like Windows ???? openSUSE’s GNOME looks like Windows ? Have you ever try Windows ? Only the task bar is a little similar too Windows’s task bar… You shouldn’t stop testing the distro/environment after clicking on the menu…

      I’m using fedora 7/8 and I really enjoy using it but I’ve got stupid bugs, I had to work on it (wireless on fedora 8 doesn’t worked, mixed between english and french folder, irqbalance which doesn’t start…). Anyway, if I use fedora, it’s not just for the candy (and I think if openSUSE users use their distro, it’s the same), it is because of fedora policy with packages, because of the french communauty and because of good quality of the bugzilla (and also because, for my computer, it almost works well).

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    13. Melanie says:

      kvm switches make things alot easier

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