I don’t agree with the OP’s view.
Similar to Fedora and Ubuntu, every openSUSE version has its own strengths and weaknesses. Version x.y may work great on one set of hardware, but x.y+1 may be a disaster. Version x.y may be a disaster on another set of hardware, but work superb on version x.y+1.
My view is if version x.y works great, the best way to reduce the risk of x.y+1 not working (but unfortunately not eliminate the risk) is to participate in the milestone/release-candidate development process. That helps many times in ensuring one gets a better experience for one’s hardware, by pointing out problems early in the development process.
There is a LOT of different hardware on the street, and unless large number of users support the milestone/release-candidate development process, then it is very difficult for the SuSE-GmbH packagers to ensure a new version x.y+1 works well with all hardware. It likely works INCREDIBLY WELL with SuSE-GmbH packagers hardware, but what they will have in their offices are likely an incredibly small fraction of the amount of hardware available. Ergo - users MUST participate to ensure the best possible release.
Thus far, I’ve found 11.4 is the best openSUSE version yet for:
- my 32-bit AMD Athlon-1100 w/1GB RAM (MSI KT3 Ultra motherboard) w/AGP nVidia GeForce FX5200 graphics [age ~10-years] w/D-Link DWL-620 (atheros AR5001X+) wireless, where I have 32-bit 11.4 LXDE in a test partition. I’ve NEVER seen a previous openSUSE version this good for that hardware (albeit sound needed turning with pavucontrol app) !
- my 64-bit Intel Core i7 920 w/6GB RAM (Asus P6T Deluxe V2 motherboard) w/ PCI-e nVidia GeForce GTX260 graphics [age ~2 years] where I have 64-bit 11.4 KDE4 in a test partition. I’ve NEVER seen a previous openSUSE version this good for that hardware (albeit sound needed turning with pavucontrol app) !
- our Linux User Group Intel Pentium M Processor 715 (1.5GHz) w/512MB RAM (HP Compaq NC4010 notebook) w/Radeon IGP 330M/340M/350M and w/Atheros AR5001X+ Wireless. Sound worked fine in this case. 11.4 is on the main Linux partition on this old laptop. I’ve NEVER seen a previous openSUSE version this good for that hardware
BUT … 11.4 still does not work well on on my Linux killer laptop
- 32-bit Intel 1.5 celeron w/1.256 GB RAM (Fujitsu-Siemens Amilo 7400M Laptop) with Intel i855 graphics [age ~7 years]
[INDENT]where the reason is despite Linux wide community efforts, the i855GM does not work well with the newer kernels. The 2.6.27 kernel in 11.1 was the last nicely compatible kernel with this hardware. I run 11.1 with a 32-bit Gnome on this laptop and thanks to ongoing support for 11.1 with the EVERGREEN project, this laptop works amazingly well. My wife (a very big winXP fan) was playing with this old 32-bit Gnome version last night, setting up a dual Thai/English keyboard, tuning the Thai fonts, etc … She was very happy with it !![/INDENT]
AND 11.4 does not work well with my
- 64-bit Intel P8400 w/4GB RAM (64-bit Dell Studio 1537 Laptop), w/ATI Radeon 3450HD graphics [age ~2+ years] and Intel WiFi 5300AGN wireless
[INDENT]where the reason is a kernel (?) bug that slipped in between RC1 and RC2 means the laptop won’t boot with the radeon driver (it needs nomodeset with radeonhd, or proprietary fglxrx which works well) AND more important the Intel WiFi 5300AGN has serious problems in 11.4 which I did not experience in 11.3 (but others did see in 11.3). Hence I will keep this laptop on 11.3 which works amazingly well ![/INDENT]
I think it important, that openSUSE be looked in the context of MANY releases, and undue focus NOT be placed on a single release by the average users. Old versions ARE supported for a limited time, and concerns about their support being temporally too short are being addressed by the community with EVERGREEN project.
Also, 11.4 introduced the start of TUMBLEWEED, the significance of which IMHO is significantly overlooked (or under assessed) by MANY blogs/reviewers of openSUSE-11.4.
An important point here, is the competition between Linux distributions is unfortunately taking an unpleasant turn, which I believe will hurt all Linux distributions. Red Hat (and Fedora ? ) , feeling the pressure from Oracle and Novell, have now taken to obfuscating the changes they make to their kernel. And Ubuntu continue to have a poor record for having their MANY custom fixes sent upstream. Ergo arguably the two largest distributions have taken an approach where they no longer want to share as much with the community, and when they do decide to share they grudgingly want to DELAY the information on what they fix, so as to ensure other distributions lag them to a very long temporal extent.
My view is Linux is still too small to have this cut throat attitude of those two distributions help, and instead it will hurt the Linux community. It may also mean we will see users claim Ubuntu/Fedora ‘just work’ with their hardware but openSUSE does not.
Still, there are other factors lurking, and the recent sale being finalized of NOVELL (with it being split up) could mean the ‘threat’ to SuSE-GmbH (and hence openSUSE) of lawsuits may diminish (as there may be less cash in the bank) and that ‘might’ mean openSUSE may be able to have more user friendly links to cash-free-proprietary code (such as multimedia) which has been avoided in the past. But we won’t see that in 11.4.
Getting back to 11.4, given the limited size of the openSUSE distribution community (compared to the two larger distributions) I think 11.4 is still a BIG improvement over previous openSUSE versions for a good portion of the hardware available, but it is definitely NOT for all hardware. And this sort of generic comment about a new distribution release typically applies to ALL Linux versions, and NOT just new openSUSE versions.
I am VERY happy to see the many informative posts on the new neat features in 11.4. IMHO those sort of informative posts (noting the GREAT new features) was sorely lacking in previous openSUSE versions, and I confess in my rather long winded way of saying, I don’t share OP’s view on this.