I can sum up my first experiences with openSUSE 11 in one word: disappointing. I will elaborate below, but if you don’t feel like reading details, I think this one word sums up my opinion pretty well.
Installations was fast and it worked great. The interface is beautiful, fast and intuitive. Great job! But so what… I only use the installation system ONCE - even if it is VERY VERY bad, I’d only have to deal with it once and that’s it. I know that developers put a lot of effort into it, because it is the part that scares newcomers to Linux more than anything else, but there should be a balance. I feel like the other problems should have received more attention. More about that below.
Booting and first start-up
openSUSE 11 DOES boot-up very fast. I don’t think it feels much faster than 10.3 (and it actually might not be), but it does feel a little faster. The login screen on my system looks pretty bad… The resolution is very low (and I couldn’t find a way of changing it) and as a result the fonts look far too big… The graphics generally look unfinished and unpolished… the avatars have a white background as if someone did not know how to use transparency…
A lot of things did not work on my system out of the box… For the record, I use a Dell Latitude D520 laptop. The multimedia buttons don’t work, whereas they did on 10.3 and they do in any other distro I’ve installed (including Ubuntu 8.04). The display and the keyboard layout were not recognized correctly as wasn’t my touchpad. That coupled with the buggy and unstable KDE4 (more about that below) gave opensuse 11 a very “broken” feeling - something that I am not used to with SUSE.
By far the biggest problem with opensuse 11 is KDE4. It is absolutely unusable. I will just give a short list of things that did not work correctly on my installation, but I am sure that there are MANY more…
First, the whole thing is VERY unstable! It hanged on my system more times since yesterday than KDE3 has hanged in the last several years I’ve been using it… Trying to play with the widgets always ends up in the same way - restarting of the X server or a system reboot. KGet doesn’t work. It lists the links for download, but it gets stuck in “delayed” instead of actually downloading them. Katapult (an application launcher which I love and I’ve been using on KDE3 for a long time) doesn’t work properly on KDE4. Anything that requires root privileges (like Yast) doesn’t work with it. Apropos, root privileges - I cannot start anything from the command line with “su”. When I open a konsole as user, get root privileges with “su” and try to start, say Konqueror, nothing happens.
Running Compiz with KDE4 (and KDE3 on openSUSE for that matter) is just a disaster. There are all kinds of artifacts around the windows, kicker constantly crashes, you cannot minimize or resize windows etc. It just doesn’t work properly, period. Talking about crashes - various KDE components crash all the time - kicker, plasma, knotify etc.
Superkaramba doesn’t work. the kde4 version complains about missing Kross scripting support (even though it is installed) and the kde3 version cannot be installed.
Ark still cannot open password protected RARs… will it ever? How hard is it to implement such a simple feature? Especially considering how many people use rapidshare.com and the likes and deal almost exclusively with such files.
There are at least another ten or fifteen things I can complain about, but I think the point is clear.
Generally in terms of usability and functionality, I think KDE4 has a LONG way to go. There are many, many things I dislike, but I will list the several ones which annoy me most:
Multiple selection of items on the Desktop doesn’t work. This is simply braindead. I cannot select multiple items by drawing a line around them. Ctrl + click doesn’t work either… braindead…
Context menu for icons on the Desktop has vanished. What the hell?
General functionality and customizability: this is what most users like about KDE and I think it’s simply gone with KDE4. You cannot customize the panels anymore for example not to mention the context menus again…BAAAAAD…
All in all I am disappointed. There are of course many improvements - Zypper is blazing fast, booting feels faster etc. Most of the things that were advertised about 11 do work as promised. The decision to switch to KDE4 however spoils the whole experience. And yes, I’ve heard the argument about giving KDE4 into the hands of users so that we can give developers feedback… It is ridiculous. Considering the effort by the whole community to get people to switch to Linux on their desktops, giving people beta (in my opinion, even alpha) software to use for daily work is just plain old stupid. KDE4 is not even close to being ready for daily use.
I have decided to give openSUSE 11 another chance with KDE3 and GNOME. However, I feel like the waiting was not worth it just for the faster zypper if I am to stay with KDE3. And if I am to switch to GNOME, Ubuntu is a much better option anyway…