12.1 on old hadware - Fujitsu-Siemens Amilo

17" inch LCD screen with a quite extreme 1280x1024
Intel Pentium M processor
Dedicated Nvidia Go6800 card
Ram 2048
2 Stata HDD with respectively 75 GB HDD (raid possible if wanted).

The install was performed with a new user account, no setting was imported. The repos where taken as of tradition:

  • oss
  • noss
  • updates

In a first install run. From that base was then joined

  • packman
  • nvidia

And vendor changes where performed.
The install medium was from the promo-DVD distributed at FOSDEM. Previously the system had Evergreen 11.1 (32bit and a part of evident issues of end of life was going well all the time.
The install went flawlessly and the installed system came up well and stable with nouveau drivers. However desktop effects were deactivated and 3D support was not granted. The speed was acceptable, although not “fast”.
After the install of the Nvidia driver the first drawback was that the wrong driver was suggested, either from the google earth install or from openSUSE repos. If you install the Go2 version driver you find yourself in trouble. Go for the GO1 repo driver instead that did perform flawlessly and allows on this machine a Google Earth with 3D and fly in, using full screen.
Desktop effects had to be deactivated, as they “freeze” the machine. Apparently the old nvidia card has no way to render the modern openGL. A pity but not substantial, because the shift from KDE3 to KDE4 provided much more gain in stability and functionality then it did cost in performance. Given the age of the machine (7 years at least, I do not even recall the year we did buy it) I was uttermost pleased and satisfied with the overall performance.
I did then join KDE 4.8 repos and 4.8 Extra repos to the install and performed the update via the command line and with

zypper dup --reponame

where about 198 Mb had to be exchanged 248 Mb of packages had to be installed new and about 9 packages had to be downgraded. Once the update was finished I performed a complete reboot.
I did then log in and did find a good and functional KDE4.8 desktop.
All of course is not good as the machine is very old. So when you log in, you have to accept that (appart of two colorfull plasmoids on the desktop) the resto fo the screen stays black for about 30 seconds during the boot. The opening (the first opening) of a firefox browser instance can be as long as 20 seconds, then however operational it is not difference ot a modern machine and all applications run stable. All appliations? Yes and here come the stunner: kontact with kmail2 performs flawlessly, very nice. Of course the import mecchanism for old KDE 3 mail accounts does not work at all, nor is it able to find files outside of “local folders”. Another annoyance I have up to now: there is no indication as to where kmail stores his mail, the .kde4/share/apps/kmail2 folder is empty and does not contain any data. But the progamm does maintain the mail, does work well and offers the possibility to archive the current email in various formats reaching form tar to zip and tar.bz2.
So once I find out where the local folder resides I will be happy, I have no clue up to now, and I welcome all suggestions to where to search.
Then I proceeded to install a new laser printer Samsung CLP-325. It was necessary to install the Samsung unified driver. The printer did then quit service after a reboot. It was possible to understand that the pinter driver software from samsung is not able to understand / see the presence of a printer after a reboot, if the latter was branched to a usb-hub. Either you run it branched directly or you have to do the following: yast, hardware, printers. Erase the printers present and do an autodetection. Then choose the separate printer driver offered in the window below and name it according to your taste. Since the printer is now selected via yast it will correctly be recognized for opration even on an usb-hub and after reboot.
All in all, the desktop environment performed much better then expected on old hardware. You are supposed to have sound knowledge of the openSUSE install procedure and should know the workarounds if plasma freezes after desktop effects are activated. Just to name it here: boot with failsafe mode and since the vga driver is loaded the effects will be turned off, you can then deselect the effects and restart the machine. Now it will perform as expected.
Given that the machine has a very unususal 1028x1024 resolution, the possibility to upsize cursors, icons and fonts to a noteworthy degree came handy for usability with elder people.
Tthis machine was on Evergreen 11.1 up to now, thus I would like to say a special thank you to Wolfgang Rosenauer that did take care of the 11.1 part of Evergreen and to all the others who did help him to do so. This allowed a long period of maintenance and continuity which was highly appreciated by my parents (85 year and 70 respectively). The new environment did not shock them and the learning curve was acceptable in the end.

A note on hardware: I did try to install 12.1 also on a system with Ashrok 939 DualVsta mainboard, 3GB ram and brand new nvidia Gforce 410 PCIe card. The result was so slow, no matter what video driver I was choosing, that I dropped back to 11.4 by necessity. The machine under 12.1 wouldn`t have allowed for dvb-s usage and froze continously. So it appears that there is still a lot of work to be done. But one should give a try, it is worth it.

P.S. A last tip to import you old files from an external hdd after clean install: have a look at sykron from the repos. Works well and is easy to handle. Lucky backup had some hickups with me, trying to sync.