N.B: Might be a long read, but that is so can hopefully get an accurate answer.
I started out with Red Hat linux in the late, late '90s. So for some reason I’ve always fallen back to Red Hat and Fedora when trying out new distros. It wasn’t until 2008 I went 100% Linux and installed Fedora on my Eee PC. Fedora seemed to be the only distro out there, at that time, that worked best with the Eee PC. But I’m getting a bit tired of the release cycle.
Of course, I can use an install until it reaches EOL, but that means I will miss out on some pretty nice updates and upgrades of the system.
So I have been “shopping around” for a rolling release, but that has kind of been a nightmare. I want a fairly well established distro that uses GNOME, but that has a pretty light/minimal base install. With that kind of demand I’m left with Arch, from what I’ve found. The thing with Arch is that I feel I’m done with sitting up late reading howtos and such to get something to work. I just want to install a base system and tweak it later, if I feel like it, as I trust the devs to have made a better config than I might do.
I’m not afraid of the CLI, I’ve just become lazy. But if I need to use CLI, I never shy away from it. Of course, if there is a GUI option, I go for that first.
Now that openSUSE seems to going down the rolling release path I’m considering dropping Fedora, install openSUSE, activate Tumbleweed as instructed in this forum and just enjoy the fruits of getting new updates/upgrades as the are deemed stable by the devs.
Now that you have an inkling about my usage and what I want I have a fairly simple question.
My main apps that I use are Firefox, Thunderbird, GIMP, VLC, Rhythmbox, Sunbird, Dropbox and Transmission.
Should I be fairly safe to start enjoying Tumbleweed now, or should I just wait for the 12.1 release?
I don’t know if anyone, including the Tumbleweed packagers, can answer the question, should you “be fairly safe to start enjoying Tumbleweed now” … safe being the operative word.
I do think it SAFE to use openSUSE now and STILL get reasonably new versions of the apps you want. But those updates may NOT come from Tumbleweed but rather come from other respos. The reason being your requirements are not too demanding. The strength of Tumbleweed is in its core operating system updates, NOT in its application updates.
That’s the short answer.
Now here is the long way of addressing part of your question - hopefully the long read addresses further some of what you are asking …
I’m a Fedora/Red Hat fan, although I stopped using Red Hat in 2001, it was my 1st linux ‘love’ (so to speak) and its always had a warm spot in my technical assessment, and as I’ve looked at it from time to time (since 2001) more or less it has not let me down in my assessment. I like that distro (a lot) !
But despite my being a Fedora/Red Hat fan, I’ve been happy with openSUSE since I tried it out in 2001, and I’m not a distro hopper. Being comfortable in openSUSE I’ve never seen the reason to switch back to Fedora / Red Hat. The various hiccups that SuSE-Pro and now openSUSE have had over the years have typically had ways to mitigate/workaround the problems, and its not been worth my time to go back to my 1st distro. I like a number things about openSUSE, including:
openSUSE community (I have many openSUSE internet acquaintances on forums, IRC chat, and even bugzilla (and to the least extent the mailing lists) - most of whom know more about Linux than I). Hence this means very very good support - friends typically put an extra effort into helping other friends …
the superb openSUSE KDE implementation used to be a major factor for me liking openSUSE more than other distributions, but as of late I’ve acquired a strong like for Gnome and LXDE and the importance of a KDE desktop is LESS for me (although KDE is still my preference - so that is still a factor, but less so than in the past)
I like the openSUSE YaST configuration tool - its the sort of package one either loves or hates. It works most the time, although IF I know how to manually edit a config file, I’ll typically do that over YaST, but failing that, YaST is great - especially when I am new to a configuration area
I like the openSUSE (and Red Hat / Fedora) policy toward Free open source software
recently the openSUSE build service has opened up significantly more packaged rpms and signficantly improved the capability of a user who packages for themselves to share with others
recently the openSUSE EVERGREEN (now testing with openSUSE-11.1) has offered a long term distribution stability not available until now with openSUSE (one was forced to go with the more Novell proprietary SLED/SLES prior to EVERGREEN)
Its good to read of others finding the openSUSE TUMBLEWEED offering more cutting edge support. I’ve never been one to want such cutting edge, but I concede there have been cases where new (or significantly superior in function) drivers are only available via cutting edge packages, and having TUMBLEWEED offers the possibility to selectively install such packages with a reasonable chance of stability. Prior to that, we had only unstable factory in a series of repositories. Note though, I see TUMBLEWEED handy for cutting ‘core’ operating system functions, and less so for applications.
Applications tend to be handled differently in openSUSE (although maybe Tumbleweed will change that ) …
Now you noted Firefox, Thunderbird, GIMP, VLC, Rhythmbox, Sunbird, Dropbox and Transmission … and I have some thoughts on some of them. TUMBLEWEED is NOT needed to get reasonably stable but also VERY RECENT versions of some of those packages for openSUSE. There are other ways to get such updated packages on openSUSE :
FIREFOX/THUNDERBIRD - For example, these packages have cutting edge versions that are reasonably stable on the Mozilla openSUSE repository. Here is the 11.4 repos (which I think should also work ok for Tumbleweed at this time) :
GIMP/VLC - For example, these packages have cutting edge versions that are reasonably stable on the Packman openSUSE repository. Here is one of (the many) Packman 11.4 repos for 11.4:
or for Tumbleweed:
Note Gimp will only show up in Packman repos once the Gimp version in the current openSUSE release (whether that be tumbleweed or openSUSE-current-version) becomes very dated.
** RHYTHMBOX/TRANSMISSION** - I don’t know much about this (as its a Gnome app) but I note there is an openSUSE ‘Gnome repository’ which may have slightly newer versions of apps than those found on the nominal openSUSE ‘OSS’ or ‘Update’ repos. For example, for openSUSE-11.4:
I don’t know if you will see Rythmbox in Tumbleweed. It will be interesting to see if that evolves.
SUNBIRD/DROPBOX/ALL-LINUX-APPS - Note there is a superb rpm search engine for openSUSE here: software.opensuse.org: Search Results To get the ‘best search’ one MUST go to “Search options” and select “Include users’ home projects”. this opens up a massive number of rpms that have been packaged by openSUSE private packagers, who want to share what they have packaged. Stability is unclear, as some of these home users are incredibly good packagers (and their packages have superb stability/rpm-specifications) and others are not so good and their packaged app versions are not great. But one HAS the choice to pick and choose here.
Also, for apps that one can not find there, one can also search on Packman’s website (as Packman, the largest 3rd party openSUSE repository is not included/covered by that search engine: PackMan :: Suche nach Paketen
3rd party openSUSE repositories:
Note there are a list of some 3rd party repositories for openSUSE here, which are likely more stable than most (but not all) private user respositories in the build service, but likely less stable than the OSS/Update repos. As to whether they are less (or more) stable than the rpms in Tumbleweed, I could not say. Tumbleweed is too new to make that call. Here is the repos list: Additional package repositories - openSUSE
So welcome to openSUSE, welcome to our forum, and I hope your experience here is good. Still Fedora/Red Hat (for me) is a great distro, and you can’t go seriously wrong with either approach.
It really depends how adventurous you are. Tumbleweed is very young so there will be hiccups. If you have been a Liuxer for > decade and those are RPM-based distros, well then you must be pretty experienced in the style of distro that openSUSE is.
There will be hiccups with Tumbleweed, no doubt, but if you’re careful about what and when you update the packages, they shouldn’t be too severe for an experienced user. But note that certainly Tumbleweed is not for a newbie.
Only you know (a) how experienced you are (b) how disciplined you are at making backups (c) whether you’re fazed by the possibility you might have to roll back to a backup or even reinstall and (d) how adventurous you are.
I should also qualify my comment above about multiple repositories, to say I go on record as recommending to new users only 4 repositories: OSS, Non-OSS, Update and Packman. No others. None. Although presumably someone wanting Tumbleweed would also add Tumbleweed. Still, keep the list of repositories very very VERY short.
My view is if someone wants a recent app from another repository (such as the ones I noted above) then simply add the repository, install the app, and remove the repository. This is EASIER than EVER to do now with zypper, where one just types:
zypper ar http://url-of-repository arbitrary-name-of-repository
zypper in application-name
zypper rr arbitrary-name-of-repository
That’s how I do this. I keep my repository list lean and mean, and I avoid dependency conflicts, and I control from where my specific applications come from. I find it significantly increases the stability of my openSUSE install.
I have two Eee PCs. One main 10" I use daily and another 7" I take with me when I head out and want something with more functionality and bigger screen than my N900. So I might install openSUSE on the 7" to warm up to it before I do the grand switch on the big one.
@oldcpu: A lot of good advice there! Thanks heaps! It’s also great to see another Red Hat user being happy with openSUSE. Makes me more confident that I’ll most likely enjoy it and find the switch easy. And I’m not too fussed about my software being bleeding edge, just that if I’ve configured a PC and happy with that, I just want to keep updating it. As an example, I won’t be able to use Firefox 4 until Fedora releases Fedora 15, unless I want to compile it myself, but that’s not why I’m using an rpm-based distro.
@swerdna: Straight to the point, but mighty helpful. I’ve never had any update issues with Fedora, so I can only cross my fingers, knock on wood an throw salt over my shoulder when I say, hopefully the luck will follow me when I eventually start using Tumbleweed. Or else I’ll just have to get dirty and hope that I can fix it. I might wait a bit with Tumbleweed, wait until it’s more mature or when it is released with 12.1.
To my understanding there’s 2 parts to this rolling release: there’s a “Debug” part, which is for package testing and is considered unstable, and then there’s the “tumbleweed” which is rolling release. I’d say the tumbleweed repository setup is quite stable. I’ve been using it for a while now. Sure there will be some hiccups, but those hiccups also make their way over to the non-tumbleweed desktop release. You also have to remember one of OpenSuSE’s goals is to make a stable desktop/office environment, so stability comes with this territory.
On a side note, OpenSUSE has one of the best support communities I’ve seen, so if there’s an issue I’m sure these guys will help smooth it out.
I can vouch for it being pretty stable. I use tumbleweed as my main desktop for everything (office apps, 3d modeling, web design, and some programming) and its been stable. This is a laptop (asus eeePC 1015p) so it’s a little picky about hardware support, but it’s doing just fine.