SUSE 9.1
a desktop review
installing and/or migration to Linux SuSE 9.1

WORK IN PROGRESS, running SuSE 9.1 since tuesday 11 May 2004....
SuSE 9.1 soon running on compaq nx7000 notebook

GNU Free Documentation License - Copyright (c) 2004 Walter Cédric.

Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document
under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2
or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation;
with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts, and no Back-Cover
Texts. A copy of the license is included in the section entitled
"GNU Free Documentation License".

Test system:

One more time, here is my system, The Linux experience you will have is very depending on hardware (and also drivers).....

Mainboard Nvidia Nforce 2 ASUS A7VN8X deluxe
2 integrated ethernet card
6 USB - 2 Firewire
On Board soundcard
Harddisk IBM 120Go UDMA 133 (primary master)
Harddisk IBM 80Go UDMA 133 (primary slave)
CDR/RW 16x IDE noname
Maxtor USB/Firewire onetouch 250Gb
Geforce FX 5600 256Mb MyVivo Athlon XP 1700 overclocked at 3200 with my watercooling
512Mb DDR Dual Channel mode PC3200 (new)
SUSE Linux 9.1 and the KDE 3.2.2 desktop  

What does SuSE 9.1 brings?

I wont go through the list of changes and goodies shipped in this release since SuSE itself has also a great page HERE (professional edition) and HERE (personal edition). Note that SuSE is selling at a very attracting price the personal edition (49$) with limited server capabilities and no commercial programs.


Migration from 9.0 to SuSE 9.1

This time I retrieve the SuSE professional DVD from colleague and did not buy it, as I prefer to wait for another major release. But wait this is a major release of Linux, I think that the release number is really not so well adequate and do not reveal the number of changes does both in kernel (2.6) and desktop (kde 3.2)

If you copy the DVD, You will get no support from SuSE directly (but you will always find help on internet), also a great help section is provided in electronic format, downside it wont be readable without a working SuSE.. FTP online update is due around the 6 June 2004....

Since I have a running version of
Linux, I decide this time to update the previous SuSE 9.0 through the YaST menu (Boot and choose Update System), after 21 min update, I was booting into my new desktop with my old settings. The boot time seems to take forever, it "SEEMS" to me that it is a loooot slower.

With this version, SuSE and Novell are now showing us their commitment to the open source community and have also GNU their famous configuration tool: YaST. This is also a strategical move since they want that the maximal number of third companies develop new modules for it (IBM, ....). That is a good news since a lot of people always complains on the licensing scheme of YaST. In the meantime, YaST is now a lot more polished...understand the ubiquity of the YaST logo and eye candy colors. Even the installation process has been redesigned with fancy graphics.


Coming from Windows?

- In order to help users to make the transition to Linux, drives (in Linux world, it is better to say devices) are a now stored under the famous icons "My Computer" and mount a lot more faster than under the 9.0. I only regret that the system choose so bad name as default (Is it needed to display a cryptic UUID in the name of devices????).


- Dual Booting Windows and SuSE is as easier as before, and has not changed. the boot loader grub with its fancy colors is a lot better than M$ one. That should at least convince You to make a try ;-)

- SuSe is now earlier hiding, during the boot, all ouput statements done by the kernel. I must agree that nearly no one can understand all barbarians technical terms, I still recommend to press sometimes the key 'F2' to newbies, seeing if a devices did not init. may be valuable under certains conditions. (mainly hardware crash)

- the most disturbing things for a newcomer is that you do not need to double click on folder or file to do an action, to approach the windows phylosophy, go the KDE control panel, in  "peripherals", "mouse", and checked the radio button "Double-click to open files and folders (select icons on first click)". Maybe SuSE should set this as default...

- During installation, the auto login feature is checked as default. Forget this bad windows habit. If SuSe is already login the system automatically, start YaST, in "security", "Edit and create groups", select your user and click on button "Expert Options" and select "login settings", uncheck "auto login". Remember security come at a cost.

What I dislikes

  • I was one more time catch by the death black screen, (I must be really dumb because that is the second time ) the autodetection of monitor (my SAMSUNG 191N was detected as SAMSUNG 4N) lead to a black screen, Maybe SuSE, should always test (with SAX2, the graphical display adapter cntrol panel of course) what it has autodetect and ask the user to confirm the detected settings.
  • Icons in the taskbar are a little bit oversized as default, bigger and it look like a desktop for kids who need to click on big icons in order not to click beside :-)
  • DVD playback is still not working (but in Knoppix, and Lindows it is), one more time You will have to hunt for the library libdvdcss2 (packman is no more providing binary rpm, you must compile them now due to a change in germany).
    Here you can find a tutorial and ALL library for XINE (with libdvdcss2) Daily xine RPMS
  • Since SuSE is a big supporter of Reiserfs, why not providing a graphical tool for repairing devices? with a expert system? one more time typing some cryptic commands may discourage a lot of users.
  • Impossible to write on NTFS drive, I have not found any captive rpm for SuSE 9.1.
  • Packages conflicts....why not embeding apt-rpm? or providing always package statically compiled in order to avoid dependancies?

What I like




What I like/dislikes

  • The default install provide a lot less user choice: only one chating system (Kopete) instead of the plethore in SuSE 9.0
  • No 3D hardware installation as default, you need to complete the installation and then in YaST grab the latest proprietary Nvidia/ATI drivers. It is only annoying.
  • YaST warn You of conflicts and dependancies but do not propose a "real" alternative, either "do not install" or "continue with risk of instability", why not:
    • Adding a third possibility: "download the missing dependancy now" or
    • Propose a UUID link on which user can click to locate the ressource (through a UDDI server), normal users don't want to write down the name of some library libdvdcss2 - p23.rpm is a pain to retain !
    • Export the list of dependancies to resolves in a new windows to shows You which library are missing, or has been installed in realtime
    • Do nothing an find a better approach...
  • The only "GOOD" repositories of RPM are not given by SuSE. (understand full of rpm not approved by companies : dvd support, win32 codecs, ....) but I think this is common to all distributions: without volunteers building rpm, it will be quite difficult to live in a wwhole linux world, or at least at the beginning since not all users want to know how to compile sources versions of their favorite programs.

What I would like to see

  • The ability to download any program through YaST (even non free or non supported: codecs, aMule and others), why not like in eclipse having internet page providing a XML descriptor for installing new packages and that YaST can understand?. I mean this can be a great step forward for the average user.

  • Better commitments of Nvidia, Linux can be a great playing plattform if hardware manufacturer develop or give some technical help to the community for improving drivers.

Exploring Multimedia capabilities:

  • Noatun is no more installed as default, Kaffeine (another interface to the famous XINE multimedia engine) is present but no interesting codecs are installed. Multimedia is, at least for me, UNUSABLE, and you need to quickly install MPLAYER/Kplayer with the full range of codecs if you want to read any DIVX, XVID, Indeo contents... I was searching Kplayer in /opt/kde3/bin/ and in YaST installer, but didnt find it. That's bad! You can find the latest version at sourceforge

mPlayer running with a special skins

  • Inserting a blank CD and K3b pop up and propose You to do your compilation

  • Gimp 2.0 is also included with SuSE Linux Professional, this version 2.0 has a new GUI and nicer icons.

preliminary Conclusions

WORK IN PROGRESS, running SuSE 9.1 since tuesday 11 May 2004....

With SuSE 9.1, you get a high quality distributions, and even if all the cons and drawbacks apply to this new release. It is definitely worth the update! Suse is getting even better with every release. Novell buying them has it seems already a positive affect with how the applications are running.

Even if this release is nearly filling all my expectations I am already excited about the future of SuSE, when will the version 10.0 be shipped?

Links how to set up atp 4 rpm for SuSE.



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