OpenSUSE 10.1

I Installed OpenSUSE 10.1 on my second computer yesterday – a lowly P3-666 with 64MB.
I must say I’m highly impressed.

First thing – its beautiful. The installation CD boot screen is actually a menu with all the common options offered (including rescue and boot from harddisk) and cute animated penguins walking around 🙂

The setup itself is nothing to write home about (I’ve used the text installation as apparently I don’t have enough power to run the graphical install – it didn’t even ask me), its yast, it works and its about as streamlined as you can expect – I’ve seen better, but not many – its definetly better then RedHat/Fedora and pre-2006 Mandriva. One interesting twist is that the installation lists what it needs installed from all 5 CDs (yes – 5 CDs), in manner of number of packages, total size (installed, not package sizes) and time to complete – but only installs the first CD. After the first CD is done, the system reboots and when you boot from the newly installed Linux it automatically runs the installation program again and picks up from where it left.
I still don’t know what I think about it – the nice thing is that once all the copying (and basic configuration) is done, you simply click “Finish” and immediatly you’re put into the live system. The bad thing about it is that it feels a bit MS-Windows like 😉

The boot manager screen (GRUB) as well as the bootup display are beautiuilly done, but that’s the extent of what I saw from the graphics side – Initially X didn’t want to load at all (probably due to a problem I had in the install). Running SAX admirably didn’t ask me any questions, but did setup X correctly (almost – it chose 800×600, while my monitor can do 1024×768 when set up correctly, which it didn’t), after which the GDM failed to start properly and kept crashed my X. I changed to something called wdm (looks exactly like xdm to me), and I can get the login screen (which is ugly) but can’t get much past that – I get the GNOME splash screen and then it crashes and brings me back to the login.

As I’ve mentioned there were several problems during the installation, one of which I can definetly blame the low quality alpha release of the 10.1 (a missing package on the 3rd CD), but the most serious ones I currently blame on my poor and aging hardware. I left it to update over the net before going to work, and we’ll see later how it goes. Speaking of network updates – here’s another gripe: I spent a lot of time trying to locate a network repository that I can update from: The repositories under Package Repositories page from the OpenSUSE web site only list “additional” repositories (not the main installation ones), and all the sources I tried from the Mirrors Development Build page only offer ISOs. Finally I found one that had the actuall development repository, and then it took me a while to figure out how to set it up in yast, as the instructions from those pages on how to setup repositories weren’t clear as they are accurate, and weren’t accurate at all.

Anyway, regarding SUSE going GNOME, indeed GNOME was offered as one of the main options for a graphical interface – as it should – but it was the second option – the list was: KDE, GNOME, Other (which was “light weight” and “none”). I’m currently happy with this arrangment, we’ll have to see how NLD (Novell Linux Desktop) will package this.

Speaking of GNOME vs. KDE – as written on Footnotes, There is a theme called GNOME-Fx for Firefox, which allows native Firefox (native as in – original interface, not epiphany or galeon or something) to have a GNOME look-and-feel. And here’s how it looks in the GNOME-Fx screenshots page – compared to Konqueror and original Firefox:

Do you really think it looks better compared to the native interfaces offered by the competitors ? IMHO, from the 3 interfaces shown, the GNOME Firefox is the ugliest of all. The main problem, I believe, is that GNOME-Fx indeed integrates visually with GNOME much better then the original firefox, and that is because the GNOME interface itself as a whole looks horrible! Its mostly washed out greys and blues and looks like something that escaped from the 80s.

Often when I use GNOME I find myself going to the “style” configuration (don’t remember how its actually called, right now) and playing with the available styles. They all look the same – there is some slight variation in colors, some are more yellowish while other are brownish or even more greyish then the default, and there are some very slight spacing and icon differences that the untrained eye would find hard to detect – but they all look just as bad.
The RedHat blue-curve theme is the only one I’ve seen so far (baring the OpenSUSE one which I haven’t seen yet) that was actually a tiny bit more interesting and slightly less ugly, and that is not saying much, as its a far cry from the preetynes of the default KDE, Mac OS-X or even MS-Windows.

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