Reviewed: OpenSUSE 11.3

SUSE

The recent series of OpenSUSE releases seems to have been oscillating between trying to deliver the finest up-to-date apps and providing the easiest, most intuitive experience for users. History tells us that it's hard to do both simultaneously, but this release might just have managed to pull it off. We reckon it's worth 9 out of 10 - but why?

SUSE has always been a KDE kind of distro, but although they've stuck with it for the 4.x series, there's certainly a lot more Gnome love in the OpenSUSE camp these days. That doesn't extend to leaving it alone of course. The SUSE version of Gnome still uses a bottom panel and the 'slab' launcher, which makes it mimic KDE 4.x somewhat, but clearly at least an equal amount of effort has been made to make it not feel like a second-choice option.

Staying on the subject of the desktop, LXDE now wallows in the happy mudpools of official support, which is of great comfort to those who prefer a more minimal desktop or who need to use more primitive hardware.

Most definitely the king of all the KDE distros, OpenSUSE now delivers more up-to-date apps and a better user experience, right from the time you install it.

Most definitely the king of all the KDE distros, OpenSUSE now delivers more up-to-date apps and a better user experience, right from the time you install it.

As for KDE itself, OpenSUSE includes version 4.4.4 (4.4.5 had only just been released at the time of writing), which is well configured and runs as happily as KDE 4.x can. We'd even venture to say that OpenSUSE is the best distro on which to run KDE.

One of the curious new 'features' is 2GB of free cloud-based backup. From all reports, it sounds reliable and good, but there doesn't seem to be anything to distinguish it from Dropbox or other services that also support Linux.

There are genuine additions though. The more up-to-date Linux kernel brings access to KVM, and OpenSUSE also has a range of other virtualisation tools available - notably the open source edition of VirtualBox and the most excellent virt-manager, which was originally developed for Fedora/Red Hat. It has to be said that both of these require some user knowledge to set up, so it's nowhere near on a par with Fedora for ease of use in this area.

New tech ahoy

Like any modern distro, there are more than a couple of technology previews in this release. The interesting ones are the BTRFS filesystem and Gnome Shell.

BTRFS is halfway to being a database, applying the B-tree data structure concepts to the filesystem. With development largely sponsored by Oracle, it may one day get the nod to succeed ext4 as the default Linux filesystem, so it's useful to be able to try it out. However, there isn't a great deal of benefit for normal desktop use.

As for the Gnome technology preview, your mileage may vary. On one test machine, it didn't like the graphics card at all, so it's worth checking it out before you set it as your default and choose the auto-login option.

Installation is even easier than before and the automatic install option will queue up vital non-free downloads for you (such as MS core fonts and various bits of Adobe stuff). It really couldn't be much simpler. With new options for netbook users, better hardware recognition and the backing of the OpenSUSE Build service, this version probably heralds a new Golden Age for fans of the Gecko.

Our verdict: Solid and dependable, well integrated and easy to use. Not that adventurous, but eminently usable. 9/10

Features at a glance

<strong>LXDE desktop:</strong> 
The lightweight desktop environment now receives official support.

LXDE desktop: The lightweight desktop environment now receives official support.

<strong>Virtualisation:</strong> VirtualBox, virt-manager and KVM bring virtual tech to SUSE.

Virtualisation: VirtualBox, virt-manager and KVM bring virtual tech to SUSE.

First published in Linux Format

First published in Linux Format magazine

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Your comments

Crazy configuration.

I've tried to like SUSE, especially the latest release, but the configuration system confuses the gecko out of me. Unlike other distros, SUSE has the very good YaST. However, instead of replacing the standard KDE or Gnome settings, YaST sits alongside. As such, as standard, SUSE has two completely different settings tools for the following:

Keyboard
Mouse
Network
Printer
Software updates

Ridiculous duplication - just what were they thinking? Oh, and has anyone figured out how to enable Apparmor in a new install of 11.3? Each time I click the check box to enable it and click 'done', it is always returns to unticked when I check it again. Quality!

The king of what ???

Kde 4.4.5 was released On 30th June 2010... Not "just been"

I gave a try to Suse because I'm a Kde big fan and I wasn't very impressed by that 11.3 (not more than 11.2)

This is the first time I see a release that came without the proprietary video drivers ready (Nvidia for my case).

One who is becoming the king called "Linux Mint Kde Edition" - It rocks - Just try it

This review is a bit slim,

This review is a bit slim, but that's all right. I agree with 'confused wannabe SUSE fan' that OpenSUSE seems to contain a lot of needless duplication. To fiddle with settings, you can use YaST, Control Center, and the Application browser -- most of which seem to contain the same or similar applications. This seems indicative of OpenSUSE's approach: try to make things easy by having tons of menus. I'm not sure how well it works.

That said, the GNOME version of OpenSUSE 11.3 looks spectacular and runs equally well. Ubuntu 9.10 taught me to think of Nautilus as slow and bloated. OpenSUSE 11.3 shows me that this need not be so. VirtualBox is also quite a bit faster for me under OpenSUSE 11.3 than it was under Ubuntu 9.10.

The last thing worth mentioning is that while OpenSUSE definitely has fewer packages than most Debian derivatives, the packages it does have seem quite new. CMUS 2.3 for the win!

Yast

Until that goes (and Novell's love in with Microsoft) I can't use OpenSuse again. Having said that, I used OpenSuse a long time ago and should maybe give it a quick spin

Linux Mint marketing thing

It seems that linux Mint guys can't resist to leave a footprint :)

To be fair 11.3 is the best I tried, which includes classic Ubuntu, but not Mint. Sorry guys.

Before 11.3 Ubuntu was faster, but now that is gone as advantage.

Looking good

I'm a long time Ubuntu user (since Breezy) but I just can't get past the recurring problems I'm experiencing with my touchpad and wireless card on my laptop (standard centrino chip). With such a strong relationship with Ubuntu it's been a difficult decision to move to a new distro. I've also been considering Debian, Fedora and FreeBSD but decided on SUSE 11.3 Gnome and I'm thrilled! Everything works. I do agree with previous comments on YaST being needless duplication (I did find that odd), however I can live with that to have a solid performing reliable, user friendly distro.

Try to install anything

Try to install anything, add a repository, whatever. Is kind of cumbersome (yast s....), not user friendly. A looking good distro is not everything, or is it?

Try to install anything

And no problems.

Just read the screen, don't assume you know because you did that before. Lunch is lunch, but each has its own taste.

YaST is a bit crowded, but it addresses more needs then other tools, without using (dreaded) command line.

Good Lord, a score!

Howcome this gets a mark out of but the latest releases of Fedora and Ubuntu didn't?

Hmm?

out of...?

Out of ten, I meant to say. Curse my typing.

another great release

I've been using the distro since S.u.S.E 6.1

using 11.3 on a 32bit desktop and 64bit laptop

firstly

nvidia drivers - were always available if you choose to compile them, now 1-click install politely removes nouveau (check website for nouveau discussion and why waiting for nvidia was a good thing) and installs 256 series - these drivers are provided by nvidia not openSUSE

wireless - now "out of the box" with no configuration except for encryption stuff

KDE 4.4.5 - yes still not available but you should try 4.5 RC3
on 1 click install

repositories - what is it about Yast -> software repositories -> scan that so difficult to understand

YaST - excellent swiss army penknife, yes it's true that some of the settings are duplicated in KDE Control Centre - but here's my readout: YaST - system adminstrator's tool KDE Control Centre - user. One of the friends I support has five users on one machine, I use YaST, they use control centre

(It's not as if anyone reading here is going to have any problems is it?)

software updates - and you forgot to moan about zypper

AppArmor - check nothing is wrong elsewhere

BTW - since when did choice become needless duplication?

The best up to now

I have been using openSuse for a long time and I have to say that this is really the best release up to now. I had some problem installing the nVidia driver after the installation (nouveau was installed by default but didn't fulfil my needs) but after that everything was just about perfect.
It's not only the most beautiful release so far but the most stable, solid and responsive.
My only unfulfilled wish was a newer version of KDE but since I can install that myself then it's not a problem.
9/10 is quite fair in my opinion.

@ YaSt sceptics: YaSt might look a bit overwhelming at first sight but once you get used to it then you will realise that it's the most powerful and flexible system tool in the Linux world. Imagine, you can do just about anything on your system using YaSt - no console.

Agree with Pelican above

Yast is easy, it's the KDE stuff that tends to get complicated. But I'm not the type to customize every little thing on the desktop, other than the size of the panel and fonts. If you want easy, stick to defaults.

Been using openSUSE for several years, still on 11.0 since I have to mess around to do an upgrade, but will get it done shortly.

openSUSE comes with everything you need, and adding the extra stuff you want is pretty easy. Most importantly, it is quite stable, unlike my past experiences with Kubuntu and even Mandriva. Only issue I've had on 11.0 is Gwenview can take down KWin pretty reliably after a while of using it. Compared to other distros I've tried, that is still very stable. No niggling little every day annoyances that Ubuntu likes to put in every release due to their crappy QA.

One just have to learn...

I run this on my laptop(32), my Quad(64) and my Eee.
My two cents is this it all works. Out of the box. The Nvidia hiccup was interesting as Sax2 was finally cut. Firing up nvidia-settings as root solved that rather neatly as I wanted 2 screens working. Eclipse had a major hiccup as XulRunner 191 wasn't very friendly to it while 192 is, sadly you had to fix this on your own.
The laptop worked flawlessly from start with all things I like, Eclipse Helios, Skype etc so no hiccups there with a Intel GMA 4500 and neither on the Eee901 SSD.

The one thing to whine about is the netbook KDE part, it still acts up at times not really working as you'd expect it to. There are some graphical hiccups and so on, work in progress you could call it.

The UX work on KDE4 and OpenSUSE does give way to a very nice workplace where things 'work as you think they ought to'-kind of mentality. Right click brings up contextual menues that makes sense for most part.
The crash-handler does leave you with a bit the first time but as it helps out downloading debug packages to improve reports you feel that someone has a vested interest in the future of the program or system at least.For as long as you use KDE programs and utilities it all works flawlessly and most other programs too work well with.
Enabling nepomuk doesn't seem to do a lot to performance for me but it does render a few nice tidbits in the desktop work.
I think that it's becoming a toss up between what desktop to use really, not even MacOS has a lot of unique features left to work with. Happily it seems that it is becoming more of a users choice now.

So in short, 9+/10 for the KDE part of 11.3.
I haven't tried out Gnome.

On a side note, yast2 is used for system config and the others, systemsettings(a bad name I know) are for userspace config. At least it's newbie friendly as doesn't demand console hacks to get things working.

No problems again!

I am not an Ubuntu fanboy like many of you are and I have stuck with SuSE and OpenSuSE since version 6.0. Why? It always worked perfectly out of the box, and so does 11.3. Once it was released I downloaded and burned the iso, and did one hasslefree install. No tampering, no faffing about with settings, leading me to a system that just runs perfectly, even 3D graphics with the cube and all that.

I cannot really understand why some of you complain that it's "cumbersome" and "not user friendly, or even "Yast s..... " Is it the migration that is annoying to all you Ubuntu fanboys? Tempted by all these Ubuntu love stories, I decided to try Ubuntu twice over the years and no, it did never work and no I was not impressed and yes Ubuntu went /dev/null as far as I was concerned, and I reverted to my beloved, stable and reliable OpenSuSE.

I love OpenSuSE. I have it running now, it has all I need, and if some needed app is not installed.... YaST is my friend. I love YaST, there is nothing wrong with YaST.
In short, 9/10 is too little.

im suse all the way every

im suse all the way every single computer in my house runs 11.3 and i downloaded the dvd the day it came out yast is awsome and kde is aswell oh and did i mention openSUSE is the best distro in existance

mr

I have used Suse since 7.0 and it has always worked straight out of the cd installation. I can use Suse and do all I like with it , no other distro has worked so well, they all crashed . I have tried at least 30 distros during with all their versions during the years and tried them with many computers at home from the '286 to Athlon and Intel 64 bits.Open Suse is my no:1 top choice 10 out of 10

Quality? Hmm....

After a lot of positive reviews. I was just curious to check out the new OpenSuse (KDE). So, I installed it on my PC. I had no problems during installation, except that my country was listed in "etc" category. I felt myself somehow offended, but anyway... After installation I found that my monitor's refresh rate was sat to 50Hz instead of 60Hz. That's not a big problem on other distros. You should just add "DynamicTwinView" "false" to your xorg.config file under the monitors or device section, but ooooooops! There is no xorg.config in etc/x11/ in OpenSuse. I tried to find out something on forums, but they sad to me that if such thing happens, you should just stay happy alone with your problem. What for they removed xorg.config? Okay. that's one problem.

Another big problem is repositories. If someone wants to have about 1000 repositories anbled after several updates and program installations, definitely, he should install OpenSuse. Happiness is guaranteed.

I found OpenSuse one of the worst distros in terms of desktop organization.

Trying to install in a virtual machine

I am trying to install OpenSUSE 11.3 into a virtual machine using the LXF136 DVD. I am using VirtualBox 3.2.8 in Ubutnu 9.04 (64-bit). First I tried the Live Gnome version, it failed to work. So I tried the live KDE, it worked and I installed it. But, as I had set the virtual hard disk too small (I used the default 8 GB), when OpenSUSE wanted to update itself, it ran out of disk space and crashed. This then rendered the virtual machine unusable.
So I decided to start again. But I have tried more than 10 times to run the live KDE and the installer and it always crashes or the installer just fails to run.
So how can I get OpenSUSE 11.3 installed in VirtualBox?

I also tried the install KDE version from the boot menu of the DVD but that also failed.

I am guessing that it should work okay, as the virtualbox guest additions (3.2.6) kernel module is already installed in the live OpenSUSE.

At least it works for someone

I tried OS 11.2 not long ago, off the packaged CD w/ LXF. It installed just fine but the repositories and package system was broken and I couldn't update or even install any nVidia drivers, much less anything else. Then downloaded it off the SuSE web site and gave that on a shot. Same thing. Not sure what magic is required to make Suse usable, but made absolutely NO points with me. Good thing Debian is always ready, willing, able to step up to the task.

Funny side note, I also found Mandriva recently even more of a green apple as far as ready to ship. At least OpenSuse installed and gave me a desktop with usable resolution.

Perhaps the power that runs my PC here in Alaska is not the same as in Europe. That may be why all European distros just won't work right for me. Hmmm

x11 problem

Recently i have installed opensuse 11.3on my amd athlon.
but i'm getting problems in grahical console, as it isnt starting....
i'm using crt moniter and in yast2 itz not showing graphics and controllers option.
plz help..........
plz send ur comments on my emailid ankitsulodia.engg@gmail.com

Decent Distro

I last used opensuse after 9.2 and went on to ubuntu. I now use opensuse 11.3 on my laptop with no problms at all. Well done to opensuse,but I agree about the duplication of things.

I've been using OpenSuse

I've been using OpenSuse since the days of OpenSuse 10.0. In general I find OpenSuse to be a smooth and polished operating system that works very well. I currently use OpenSuse 10.2 on my desktop and 10.3 on my laptop. Yes, there are always small problems that you may need to work around but for the most part everything just works. I've evaluated many other Linux distributions but always come back to using OpenSuse. Look at it this way, its free. Can you say that about the Microsoft operating systems? Properly configured, OpenSuse certainly works as well or better, and with more functionality, than Microsoft's operating systems. Also remember, most computers and computer components are designed to work with Microsoft operating systems and many of the intimate detail needed to make these systems function properly with Linux might not be known. Considering this its a wonder that things work as well as they do.

correction to "I've been using OpenSuse"

I currently use OpenSuse 11.2 on my desktop and 11.3 on my laptop, not 10.2 and 10.3 as stated. Sorry about the mistake.

After having installed and

After having installed and tried many distros I have settled for OpenSuse 11.3 and that one is to stay. Although a Fedora fan so to speak, I reckon OpenSuse is the most all round and usable Linux distro on the market. A very good OS for at home and in the office.

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