A Day in the Life…

What’s a high school student to do when they’ve got a week off?

Install some new distros and play around obviously!

With that in mind, the next distro on my list of forays was openSUSE 10.2. I was slightly wary, of course, because of two factors that largely hurt the distribution (in my mind):

1. It uses RPM.
2. It’s KDE-centric


I tend to grimace when anyone mentions the words “Red Hat Package Manager”. I’ve had some bad experiences (I’m looking at you Fedora Core 6) in the past that left quite the sour taste in my mouth when it came to any distro sporting it.

What did openSUSE bring to the table?

As most people will testify (at least the other current and former SUSE users I spoke to), the biggest problem with openSUSE right now is package management. While there’s always the much-maligned RPM-hell to deal with, even on a more basic level, ZMD, and to a certain extent YaST, can simply be a nightmare with many conflicts arising here and there. At least, that was the case for me.

While this may or may not be an RPM trouble, I did notice that when it came to fetching and installing packages, that the entire RPM system was much slower on my laptop than apt+dpkg. Simply installing GNOME took an extra 45 minutes on my laptop under SUSE – compared to a brisk 15-20 minutes I experience with apt on Ubuntu.


I am not getting into this debate. Both sides have their bonuses. Here’s what I’ll talk about instead.

Ubuntu’s KDE vs. openSUSE’s KDE & Ubuntu’s GNOME vs. openSUSE’s GNOME

openSUSE is a generally KDE-centric distribution and it shows. openSUSE is the most spry KDE environment I have yet to see on my laptop. Programs were quick to launch and the default setup wasn’t unbearably gaudy in the least bit. I like the KDE layout for YaST quite a bit too. openSUSE definitely wins for the KDE user.

On the other hand, there’s not much I can say about openSUSE’s GNOME. Playing around with it and KDE for the past several hours has led me to the conclusion that the only thing I really like about openSUSE’s GNOME is the default setup (I even copied the GTK theme to my documents partition so I could use it back on Ubuntu).


openSUSE has taken a bit of a weird stance, in my eyes, regarding a composite window manager. Where other distros support AiGLX very well out of the box and ship with no composite manager installed, openSUSE goes out of its way to make XGL easy. If you use XGL to use Compiz or Beryl, then you’ll love how easy it is, however, AiGLX takes a little work to get up and running.

The Installer

The openSUSE installer is the best I’ve seen on any distro. That’s really all I can say.

I also love the graphical grub and the usplash – A+.

At the end of the day, openSUSE just wasn’t for me. It’s a solid distribution, especially in light of the “drawbacks” I attributed to it. If you’re a KDE-lover and you hate looking at a terminal, openSUSE is definitely a good choice for you. There’s a UI for almost everything (even more so than Ubuntu).

On the other hand, if you’re a minimalistic GNOME guy who likes to tweak his system (like me), then I don’t think openSUSE will satisfy you in the same way other distributions might. (Of course, if you’re one of those true Linux nerds, you’ve probably constructed your entire OS from the ground up, so I doubt much could satisfy you when it comes to popular OSs.)

I love the constant innovations coming out of the Novell and openSUSE community and while I welcome their creativity and genius, I just don’t think that a SUSE-based distribution is the right one for me.


2 Responses to “A Day in the Life…”

  1. 1 Frederik Hertzum April 3, 2007 at 9:01 am

    Regarding the RPM issues — it’s an issue with the packagers, not the system itself. RPM and DEP can do exactly the same thing and are equivelant. They have no distinct advantages over each other. I have experienced just as much deb hell as I have rpm hell.

    The “fetch and install” issues you mention has nothing to do with the package managers, but the install programs. In FC6s case that would be yum, in debian based distros that would be apt-get.

    If you think openSUSE has the best installer, you really are weird.

  2. 2 Will Farrington April 3, 2007 at 2:01 pm

    Well… at least you’re honest. -_-‘

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