Driven by pure curiosity, I downloaded the latest beta of OpenSUSE Linux. The next version, 10.1, is currently on Beta 8 and requires 5 CDs; although I’ve burned all of them, I still didn’t see it request the 4th CD, which makes me think it is the KDE applications. Yes, I didn’t installed KDE, even if SUSE well known for being a KDE distribution. To be honest here, I downloaded it just to see its GNOME installation, actualy.
So, 5 CDs at hand, time to install. Everything went nice, it did display an average time to install every CD (my initial installation required only 3 CDs) and it came without any surprises. Actually, I got some surprises, like it showing all my configurations, like the monitor brand. Even more, it did recognize my Ubuntu installation and added it to its grub menu, automagically. Very nice.
After installation, it was time to check the desktop. It got a little bit confused with my settings for Ubuntu, so I added another user, so I could see their default desktop. And Ii must say it is one of the cleanest default desktops I’ve seen. Only one panel and just a few launchers and applets. The default theme is a variation of “Clearlooks” and it is very good. Actually, all artwork is excellent: the default background, the default theme, even the default mouse cursors are better than the default on other desktops. The only thing that I’ve found are the fonts: they look quite ugly.
Ok, first steps done, it was time to try to use it. And that’s where it shown its “beta”: Banshee, the default music player, took a long time to scan my music library (3400-and-something songs), taking even longer than Rhythmbox. Trying to play produce no audio at all.
“Peer pressure is a bitch”, as they say. My co-workers came complaining that they wanted to see Xgl (since Novell is the company behind it). So I went to Yast and installed Compiz and xserver-xorg-xgl [or something like that]. The nice thing is that I got an icon on the GNOME control center to enable the 3D Xgl; just a few clicks and it asked for a reboot to complete the installation. Quite easy and simple. The problem came when the system came back: calling Xgl made the X server crash hard, with some segfaults. I tried some tricks, just to keep getting segfaults. The solution that came to me was to uninstall Xgl and hope it would return to the default X server. On my way to package management under yast running on a console, I though it would be better to just check upgrades before venturing into “remove and hope” path. Unfortunately, trying to use it this way only led to more segfaults. So, remove was the only option.
Xgl removed, it was time to check X again. Launching it as root brought FVWM as default window manager. “Cool”, I thought, “a hard to get window manager for the user that shouldn’t be used”. Time to switch to the SUSE user, only to find out it too got FVWM as default. Tweaking .xinitrc fixed the problem, although I still don’t know what made it think GNOME isn’t good without Xgl.
When I came back at home, it was time to try my wireless connection. No sign of any detection, so I had to run Yast again. I need to add a note here: Yast is a QT application and its default ugly look really looks weird on a very clean GNOME desktop. They seem to be using some variation of the Motif theme, with very dark gray background. Anyway, it was quite hard to understand where I could point the ESSID and WEP key; none of the options looked like something to configure network devices. All that time, my wired connection was Ok, although it wasn’t connected. After fixing the wireless options, I got no connection at all: all interfaces where down and there was no sign of how to enabled that.
So, I got some rough edges trying to use it. Ok, it is a beta version, but even the latest Ubuntu don’t throw segfaults at me. My thoughts in the end are quite bad: a distribution in its 8th beta shouldn’t get segfaults that way. Even worst, its configuration tools shouldn’t segfault; when normal applications crash, you’ll probably try to update the system, just to check if there isn’t any fixes for it. With the configuration tools failing too, things look a lot worst.
Anyway, here is a screenshot of the default desktop, running Banshee and the volume control.
||OpenSUSE Linux 10.1 Beta 8
Applications: Banshee and Gnome-Volume-Control