Before settling on SUSE, I spent a week testing basic desktop installs of Ubuntu, PCLinux and Simply MEPIS to “potentially” migrate into a small pool of XP workstations. SUSE(KDE) won the battle of the desktops. It seems (to me) the most user friendly, gently customizable and I liked the DVD and network installation option. I know a week isn’t much for four distros, but I’m the impatient sort. My background is IT - starting my IT life in Novell 3.13, Dos 6 and Windows 3.0, and brushes with proprietary UNIX (Sun OS 4 and Solaris mostly) before finding myself firmly back in Windows world. Most of my life was not directly technical but in managing “IT for hire” teams. My command line skills in UNIX are absolutely dreadful, but exposure has left me with decent computer skills. I’m probabaly best described as a super-user with reasonable networking knowledge, and a better golfer than a techie. I’m “aware of” LDAP, NIS, and Active Directory - so some of the networking concepts I had to work through getting Samba feeling just-right were easier than might have been with others.
Now that I’m semi-retired, my current job is very different. I work part-time supporting a very small business running XP on a dozen desktops - helping users keep their workstaions productive, up-to-date, user friendly and clean. Just generally making IT life easy for the small company (and for me). We also have a little Linux database server (that I never installed) that is celebrating it’s 16th month of continuous 7x24 service…and its doing so because nobody touches it - backups are a Cron job. Plus it has a properly maintained UPS attached - which I did install!
Out of curiosity, and some exposure to Vista; and after helping the small business owner and more than a few friends and family “downgrade” their new computers from Vista to XP - I wanted to see if Linux had come-of-age in terms of being a decent replacement for XP (GUI and all). The one good thing about Vista is that the users are so frustrated so quickly, I was able to extract XP licenses from their old computers before they even had time to take them to the local recyclers!
Back to SUSE - I’ve succeeded with two of three machines on different wireless LANs Using YAsT and/or NetworkManager. That aspect was not particularly intuitive. In fact the entire wireless setup with the current release of SUSE could use some “tough love”. Having said that, the balance of the installations in two out of three have been quasi-painless (notwithstanding one late/sleepless night going over in my head why my Samba installs seemed locked in mortal combat with the embedded firewall software) - but all is well now. The two running machines are dual boot and running a few “necessary” programs via wine. I’m not positive that SUSE is a good XP alternative yet - but it seems very close to me. Maybe with a couple of my “stronger” computer users…?
The one “spectacularly unsuccessful” install is a Dell Dimension 2350 - I can’t get the GUI to display anything other than text - even trying all the optional video setting/parameters during install - it just ends up displaying an ugly green rainbow, and after a long while, a messy/patchy blue/green pattern??? Its a workstation - it needs a GUI; and its the retired one at work that I had high hopes of trying Quickbooks via wine “just to see”. I even made a boot disk and downloaded Dell’s latest (A2) BIOS - but no change. Windows XP installs without problems, so its not a hardware failure. Google tells me that Dells may be pretty unfriendly to Linux. BTW none of the distros would install - the one that got closest was PCLinux - but when finished - it had no icons on it’s “kicker”. Anyway, I want SUSE - anyone ever succeed in force-feeding one of these little piggies?