I got the professional update version a few weeks ago. This included 6 CDs,
1 DVD and 3 Manuals. I have already sold off the CDs, as I've been using the DVD
editions for sometime. I think SuSE are the only ones providing Linux on a
DVD which makes great sense. Looking at the packaging there is 1500+ apps on
the 6 CDs and 1800+ apps on the DVD. The update version is intended for
those who have good experience in using Linux so the 3 manuals would be a
bit sparse for first time users. Luckily the full manual is included as a
PDF on both the DVD and CD should anyone need it.
The DVD is bootable, so put it in the drive and let it go. YAST2 has been
greatly improved and detected almost everything, i.e my SBLive, Modem, SCSI
card (PCI one only though!), DVD, CDROM and CDRW (although as usual with
SuSE no IDE-SCSI set up...).
I have 30G of Harddisk space with 5Gb for Windows, 2Gb for BeOS and 4Gb for
/home. So I decided to leave the other 19Gb available (I deleted my SuSE 6.4) for
SuSE and install everything (except sources). After about 7 hours it was
installed. Out of the 19Gb I had about 5 or 6Gb free.
The machine was setup with XFree86 3.3.x so the first thing to do was change to
XFree4. I typed "sax2"( SuSE's X configuration program for XFree4) at the
command prompt and was presented with an option to switch to XFree4 then and
there. Once the switch over was done a nice GUI to configure the screen was
This was very basic, allowing me to select highest resolution and color
depth. It worked a charm, detecting keyboard, monitor, etc. perfectly.
Unlike the evaluation CD, the amount of applications on the KDE
menu are numerous. Also Gnome, IceWM, KDE2 and lots more Window Managers
were installed. SuSE have set up a seperate menu which allows you to get at
non-kde applications just as easily such as xmms gimp etc.
Since KDE2 (1.94 I think) was included I decided to give it a go. I never
managed to get this to run properly with 6.4. It worked nicely, but has a
distinct lack of applications, but could still run older KDE 1.1.2 apps
anyway. The ~/Desktop directory is common to both window managers with
~/.kde used for KDE 1.1.2 and ~/.KDE2 used for KDE2. Nice touch!
StarOffice 5.2 is pre-installed, i.e. the user need only select work-station
install and everything is setup. This is much better than before where you
had to install it as root first then install each user.
Wordperfect is also availble (which I prefer) and as usual installed easily
With the main software up and running it was time to get the nitty gritty going. I
still had to setup my CD-Writer (IDE), load soundfonts into my soundcard,
and get on to the Internet.
Getting the CD-Writer up and going is very easy. Simply modify
/etc/lilo.conf and /sbin/init.d/boot.local and all was up and running
perfectly. SuSE even have a small document to show you how to set this up.
The soundfonts were easy, now that SuSE have decided to include the awesfx
package once more. Modified the /etc/modules.conf to load the soundfonts
after ALSA has loaded the soundcard modules.
But connecting the modem was not so easy. Turns out SuSE have security set a
bit stringently on this. You need to set the suid on the kppprc binary to get
it to work for all users, otherwise root is the only one allowed to dial
out. Not good! But this may be useful for non-home users.
What more can I say...
A lot of people have had numerous problems with installing (see SuSE mailing
list) but most of these seem to be related to a CD based installation. I and
one other have installed from the DVD with no problems.
There is a lot more software to try. In the 3 weeks I have had it installed,
I've only touched the surface. Everything I want works well, without a lot
of hassle, such as StarOffice, Kppp, Kmail, Netscape, KOffice (trying it
out), Wordperfect, IBM Toppage, Corel Photopaint, Xcdroast, Lxdoom, and many
As usual SuSE have included lots of software. Being able to install from DVD
makes a lot of sense when you have a 6CD distro. The DVD allows you to walk
away for the few hours it needs to install. YAST2 has been greatly improved
but I still prefer the old text based YAST. I just feel that I have more
control over the installation.
- Kernel has lots of backports for USB, UDF etc..
- Xfree 4 and KDE 2 included.
- Easy migration to Xfree4.
- Hardware detection is much improved, apart from CD-Writer and an old ISA AHA1502 SCSI card.
- Lots of Software to play around with and try out.
- Bootable DVD for easy installation.
- Easy integration of Scanner and printer.
- Xfree 3.3.x setup as default rather than 4.0 even though I selected 4.0.
- CD-Writer not setup as ide-scsi as default.
- Security is very tight on kppp for home use. Something in the install
to change this if SuSE is being installed for home use would be nice.
- KDE2 could have been better organised. It should include KDE1.1.2 apps on the
Not a problem for me, but for first time users this is a nightmare.
All distros are guilty of this, so this isn't aimed only at SuSE.
When will they understand that most new users are going to want
to install on a system from the likes of Dell or Gateway which has all
available disk space assigned to Windows? The new user needs to either fork
out for Partition Magic or try their hands with fips or something similar and
then screws it up. A better GUI parition manager is needed to help the
new user. Even Ranish's partition manager can be a bit complicated for the
first time user. Surely someone could include something in the install
manager (YAST or YAST2 in SuSE's case) which would automatically defrag the
Windows drive (moving all software to the top of the paritition) then suggest a
recommended size to the user, cut the partition properly and continue.
Let's face it, it's not rocket science...
- I need to get another (larger) hard disk for the sources....
About the author, Richard Dunphy.