Distro Comparison: openSUSE 10.3 – Day 3

Wow, I’m excited by the response, and while I still believe that openSUSE is not the distro for me, it definitely has grown on me. I believe on my last review, I might have been a bit hasty in stating that just about everything was useless. And while I do have a few more complaints about this distribution, getting settled in might have been all it takes to shake of the pure hatred I recently expressed.

Much of my response has been in fact aimed at my personal opinions of certain features, and while a few of the failures I noted were indeed things that bugged me, they were personal preference and thus, I will be revising my scoring system a little. In fact, how I will award points will not so much be based upon personal preference unless its completely unbearable to me. And to that end, I’ll make a new PREFERENCES section, which will not receive scores, but will have things I personally like or dislike.

In addition, I so appreciate all of the comments I’ve received, many were very helpful in pointing out errors in my representation of openSUSE. Others were part of the reason I decided to change the scoring a bit. And even others I’d like to take the time to reply:

First, to my friend Heartsbane, thanks for the smartass reply. I should’ve known it was coming!

Sontek pointed out that there were bugs in the iwlwifi driver when 10.3 was released. While I agree with not releasing something before its ready, I find it interesting that 2 months after its release openSUSE doesn’t have iwlwifi drivers available in their updates. Why is this? Did I miss them somewhere? My problems with the ipw3945 are more to the fact that it never seems to work with the WPA PSK setup I have at home/work. The iwlwifi driver has less issues with this specific problem.

apokryphos had several comments, and I will address a few of them.

  1. The 1-click-install feature is to help reduce much of the repo setup and installation that used to be a long drawn out process has been reduced to 1 click. While I agree that this is a major improvement, it is such a misnomer to call it a 1-click-install when it clearly isn’t. I only suggest we rename the process as someone coming from another world to Linux who find openSUSE may be disappointed when a 1-click-install indeed requires more like 7 clicks.
  2. zypper shows what will be installed was another response I received contrary to what I saw. He asked me for an example, and in return I would suggest that indeed it does tell you what will be installed, but only after you agree to install the extra dependencies. Please provide me a command/option that shows me the dependencies prior to my agreement to install the package(s).
  3. The root prompt was another failure on my end, however. Mostly, I have it ingrained in my head to look for the “root” part in the prompt. The entire prompt indeed turns red as suggested, this is something I just have to get used to, or change to my preference I guess. I do still think the prompt is ugly, but its growing on me. Others mentioned this as well, thanks for pointing out this to me.

Another, which I received from Ani and lejocelyn (as well as apokryphos), was in regard to my complaint about the Windows-like look and feel. First off, its not a cop-out and secondly, it does look like Windows. Where is the multiple-workspaces? Isn’t that a big plus, I had to add them and enable the panel object. What about this “control center”, feels a lot like Windows “control panel” to me. There is much more I think, and it also might be somewhat because I’m a GNOME user. But like I said, if I wanted it to look like Windows, I would just run Windows.

Ani also pointed out that some of my complaints about the lack of horizontal bars were because of the wasted space, especially with the new widescreen displays coming out. In retrospect, I agree that its useful to only have one bar on widescreen displays or because it takes up so much space. The “one glance” aspect I get from my status bars sure helps me, however, so I’ll define this as just a preference.

benji.weber@gmail.com pointed out his installation time was much shorter than mine. I’m not sure how he got this, but I installed from DVD offline so maybe its a bit related. He also mentioned that there are many more users testing KDE over GNOME. I suppose this might be the case for openSUSE, but overall, I think that number is pretty evenly split between the two major desktops.

Thank you all for your wonderful comments, I really appreciate the contrasting views and look forward to the next round of comments.

As I didn’t use openSUSE as much yesterday and today, so I have a little less to report:

GOOD

  • YaST is growing on me, but I’m still adjusting to living in this world. Its still not my favorite tool (0)
  • Suspend works like a charm. Although this also works in Fedora. (+1)

Positive Score: +1

BAD

  • The YaST printer tool does not deliver reliable results when setting up printers. YaST discovered my printer, but failed to deliver the correct IP address (-1)
  • My bluetooth mouse is still not working, even after following several good tutorials I found online. As per this tutorial from Andrew Jorgensen, I already have the bluez-gnome and bluez-utils from the GNOME Community repository installed. Not sure why, but it looks this one will have to wait for an update, whenever that occurs. (0)
  • Enabling the fingerprint reader only asks me for files. I thought that was odd, clicking on the help indicates that providing files from another installation that uses the fingerprint reader will set it up. I didn’t see a way to set this up from scratch with openSUSE in YaST, however. (-1)

Negative Score: -2

Total Score for the last two days: -1 (not bad for day two, you never know, I might actually give a positive score by the end…)

Overall score: -6

PREFERENCES

  • I still prefer the system-config-* tools from Fedora over YaST. I don’t like its interface and it still seems to be unfriendly. I do think that its much improved over the original YaST I used back in SUSE 10.0
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9 Responses to Distro Comparison: openSUSE 10.3 – Day 3

  1. apokryphos says:

    I’m still finding what you’re saying about zypper curious. Like I said though, could you paste an example of where it doesn’t show the depends? I agree it would be incredibly annoying if it didn’t, because this is such a standard feature for any package management (which is why zypper, of course, has it):

    opensuse:/home/francis # zypper install wxGTK-gl
    * Reading repository ‘Main Repository (NON-OSS)’ cache
    * Reading repository ‘KDE 4 development version builds (openSUSE_10.3)’ cache
    * Reading repository ‘Packman Repository’ cache
    * Reading repository ‘openSUSE BuildService – KDE:Community’ cache
    * Reading repository ‘NVIDIA Repository’ cache
    * Reading installed packages [100%]

    The following NEW packages are going to be installed:
    unixODBC wxGTK-compat wxGTK-gl

    Overall download size: 4.2 M. After the operation, additional 12.0 M will be used.
    Continue? [yes/no]:

    What is it about YaST that you find unfriendly? Could you give any examples of the modules or the way they behave? That would really help. Even so, YaST is undoubtedly more comprehensive (with more modules) than Fedora’s selection of tools. Some people dislike YaST originally because they’re not as used to a wizard style of configuration, but these are actually really great from a user experience (and usability) perspective for a range of users. It empowers both power users and novices to configure and setup a particular thing. If you’re a new user, just click “Next”; if you’re a power user and want to change things around, then go right ahead.

    How long was it that the installer took for you (in minutes)?

    Re: fingerprint reader. Follow the instructions like here: http://en.opensuse.org/Using_Fingerprint_Authentication (it is in fact developed by openSUSE developers).

    It’s not really intuitive to suggest that the GNOME control center is “like Windows” when it seems to be the way *all* operating systems are going with structuring their control center modules, such as OS X and KDE (systemsettings), as well. That it reminds you of Windows is unfortunate, but we’re not going to pass out on the best idea because Windows might have it as well.

  2. Livio says:

    I also like system-* ones more, but YaST is polished well…
    system-* are not.

    Also the artwork… I love Tangoish icons, but my favourite distro is going to use such shit like Echo… Fuck.

  3. herlo says:

    apokryphos,

    I know about the fingerprint reader software, indeed this is how I did it in Fedora. My problem is that if I were wanting to enable it in openSUSE, this is the only location and its confusing.

    As far as zypper goes, your example above points out the name of the package, but not the version, which is part of my concern. The other part is it doesn’t tell where it will install it from, in other words, which repository the packages are being installed. Another question I have, how does one specify one repo over another? This seems backward if there is no way to do such things.

    YaST locks me into its way of thinking. I’m not unimpressed by the improvements, however. And I disagree as to its flexibility and greatness you mention compared to the system-config-* tools in Fedora.

    Cheers,

    Herlo

  4. Jesse Keating says:

    One thing that seriously bothers me about OpenSuSE is that they call themselves “open” and are supposed to be this community distro, yet only Novell employees can commit to it, or do builds. Sure they have a public build system that lets you do builds and stash them in a 3rd party repository somewhere, but you certainly can’t directly contribute to the OpenSuSE distro.

  5. sontek says:

    The man page clearly says ‘-r’ or ‘–repo’ to define what repo you want to install from. I think you need to at least do the bare minimum of glancing at the man page before saying things like “This seems backward if there is no way to do such things.”. Its the very first option under install.

    Its easy to find things wrong with something if you don’t spend the time to learn how to use it.

  6. Iznogood says:

    I was sure the “-v” was the default “give more info switch” for all linux commands. Or have I misunderstood your question.

    embla:~ # zypper -v in gnome-desktop-devel
    Verbosity: 1
    Non-option program arguments: ‘gnome-desktop-devel’
    Initializing Target
    Checking whether to refresh metadata for Packman
    Checking whether to refresh metadata for nvidia
    Checking whether to refresh metadata for gnome:com
    Checking whether to refresh metadata for Update
    * Reading repository ‘Packman’ cache
    (4610 resolvables found)
    * Reading repository ‘nvidia’ cache
    (6 resolvables found)
    * Reading repository ‘gnome:com’ cache
    (131 resolvables found)
    * Reading repository ‘Main’ cache
    (6457 resolvables found)
    * Reading repository ‘Update’ cache
    (2859 resolvables found)
    * Reading repository ‘Non-oss’ cache
    (83 resolvables found)
    * Reading installed packages [100%]
    (2194 resolvables)
    0 items locked
    Establishing status of aggregates
    Resolving dependencies…

    The following NEW packages are going to be installed:
    libopenssl-devel-0.9.8e-45.5.i586 (Update)
    libgnomeui-devel-2.20.0-3.2.i586 (Update)
    libbonobo-devel-2.20.0-5.2.i586 (Update)
    libgnomecanvas-devel-2.20.0-4.2.i586 (Update)
    dbus-1-devel-1.0.2-59.2.i586 (Update)
    libuuid-devel-1.40.2-20.2.i586 (Update)
    libcom_err-devel-1.40.2-20.2.i586 (Update)
    libext2fs-devel-1.40.2-20.2.i586 (Update)
    libblkid-devel-1.40.2-20.2.i586 (Update)
    alsa-devel-1.0.14-31.2.i586 (Update)
    audiofile-devel-0.2.6-77.i586 (Main)
    avahi-devel-0.6.20-40.i586 (Main)
    dbus-1-glib-devel-0.74-25.i586 (Main)
    esound-devel-0.2.38-17.i586 (Main)
    gail-devel-1.20.0-4.i586 (Main)
    gconf2-devel-2.20.0-4.i586 (Main)
    gnome-desktop-devel-2.20.0-3.i586 (Main)
    gnome-keyring-devel-2.20-4.i586 (Main)
    gnome-vfs2-devel-2.20.0-3.i586 (Main)
    hal-devel-0.5.9_git20070831-13.i586 (Main)
    indent-2.2.9-266.i586 (Main)
    libart_lgpl-devel-2.3.19-35.i586 (Main)
    libbonoboui-devel-2.20.0-4.i586 (Main)
    libgnome-devel-2.20.0-7.i586 (Main)
    libidl-devel-0.8.9-4.i586 (Main)
    libjpeg-devel-6.2.0-78.i586 (Main)
    libusb-devel-0.1.12-72.i586 (Main)
    libxml2-devel-2.6.30-4.i586 (Main)
    ncurses-devel-5.6-41.i586 (Main)
    orbit2-devel-2.14.9-5.i586 (Main)
    popt-devel-1.7-368.i586 (Main)
    readline-devel-5.2-61.i586 (Main)
    startup-notification-devel-0.9-15.i586 (Main)
    tack-5.6-41.i586 (Main)

    Overall download size: 5.1 M. After the operation, additional 21.6 M will be used.
    Continue? [yes/no]:

    ps. if you want even more info try -vv

  7. apokryphos says:

    > I know about the fingerprint reader software, indeed this is how I did it in Fedora. My problem is that if I were wanting to enable it in openSUSE, this is the only location and its confusing.

    Did you have a problem when following those instructions I gave you?

    > As far as zypper goes, your example above points out the name of the package, but not the version, which is part of my concern.

    Enabling such a verbose option by default would not be a good idea. Your complaint however was that it “doesn’t show depends”, when it clearly does. You can enable version number of the package with options (see the man page)

    > The other part is it doesn’t tell where it will install it from, in other words, which repository the packages are being installed.

    This is again the standard procedure for basic installation on a CLI client. I install packages with zypper and have used other tools in the past for years, and I have *very* rarely needed to do this. Hence, it’s counter-intuitive to have it on by default. If you want that stuff, use the extra options available.

    > YaST locks me into its way of thinking. I’m not unimpressed by the improvements, however. And I disagree as to its flexibility and greatness you mention compared to the system-config-* tools in Fedora.

    You can disagree, but they have been both justified here and by the open research available to you discussing user experiences by usability experts. You cannot please everyone, but that doesn’t mean we can’t make a right decision.

  8. Avi Alkalay says:

    I think this kind of tests are excelent and should be encouraged.

    I am testing KUbuntu at home for a while and I’m enjoying. But as you, I am still not sure it is the distro for me. Of course, after 9 years using a specific Linux flavor (Red Hat/Fedora in my case) nothing else seems familiar.

  9. hq197 says:

    The extra clicks in the “one click install” are all related to giving the user the freedom to choose, aren’t they? The truth is this is arguably the biggest advance in installation convenience since red hat’s RPMs. Admittedly, some people still dislike RPMs as well. In my opinion, SUSE 10.3 provides the perfect balance between ease of use without removing the power of choice. Of course, one can always use the konsole ( terminal) in any distro, but SUSE puts the power of Linux into a GUI, making a migration from the usual consumer popular OS’s to Linux, a great learning curve. I learned a lot by using SUSE (my first ever Linux was SUSE 10.1), and only recently been dabbling with Ubuntu , Mandriva 2008 and Fedora 8.

    It seems you don’t like the qt flavor of YAST – perhaps give the gtk GUI a shot from the GNOME desktop. It is possible to enable the gtk flavor to run instead from inside KDE, but you may have to install some or other GNOME package first. Personally, I find the Fedora “Add/Remove software” a lot more like windows and in fact, it would have been better had Fedora 8 just gone with synaptic or smart as default instead. I DO liek Fedora 8 anyhow and I will enjoy fiddling around with Mandriva as well. But SUSE remains my main OS precisely for the YAST and ONE CLICK install features.

    Thanks for the interesting article.

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