A long-time Windows user, I recently took the free-OS plunge. Been using openSUSE for about a month now, and don’t plan on ever stopping. I came to Linux on purpose, and found openSUSE by chance. No this isn’t some sappy love story…more like a sick twisted tale of addiction.
In my spare time I’ve been developing a mod for an id Tech 3 based game. Well after finally reaching some milestones, I figured for craps and laughs I should compile it for Linux. But I’m stubborn and spoiled by Visual Studio, so if I was gonna go through the pain of setting up cygwin/mingw, why not just set-up a distro on my old laptop. (If you’re gonna smoke something, you might as well inhale )
So a total noob, I thought to myself, “I’m willing to bet there’s decent documentation if there’s a sizeable community for a distro.” Of course following that assumption I went with Ubuntu. Unfortunately I didn’t fit their “one-size-fits-most” mentality of distro packaging, and completely against my first assumption, I was slapped with forum-centric support->meaning hours of endless searching through unrelated forum posts still not finding out why an app wasn’t even starting (and no I wasn’t trying to run an .exe file<-for all the trolls that might read this).
Figured I had wasted 2-3 days already trying to do the Penguin thing, one more couldn’t hurt. Bam, stumbled upon openSUSE 11.2. Was immediately impressed and that impression keeps getting better the more I use it. First a couple of weaknesses, followed by a multitude of strengths versus other distros. (C’mon, gotta save the best for last).
1. Log files. Seriously I filled up my root partition with 2 log files. Messages and warn. I’ve read 'em and most of the junk is from stuff I’ve installed, haven’t gotten around to using, and therefore have not configured yet. That as well as hardware for which I was missing drivers after the initial install. I feel there should be a better way to manage these without having to manage them, if that makes anysense.
2. The alphabet soup of laptop hardware. Sorry, as far as I’m concerned, I don’t own a rv250, or a BCM4311. My laptop has a Mobility Radeon 9000 chip, and a Dell True Mobile 1300 wireless card. Easy enough to get over, and I know it should be that way inside the dev world, BUT outsiders shouldn’t be made to educate themselves about freaking chip part numbers, especially when their BIOS reports it differently.
3. Out-of-box display control sucks. SaX2 works wonders, but accessing it isn’t very intuitive and you can’t do much without it. As a Windows-convert, I expect it to be accessible from either YaST or the standard-rights Control Center.->Nope, it’s obscurely under Applications tucked down the screen in the catch-all System category.
Out of these 3, only #1 is the one I feel has really irritated me and that I shouldn’t have to deal with it. Even if it’s my set of hardware/software circumstances that creates the scenario under which it happens (which is the case.)
NOW for the Good Stuff:
1. Guided Install. Easy, informative, yet empowering. I had some say in the process but wasn’t forced to specify every single option possible.
2. Software Setup. Again, it’s easy and informative. It doesn’t treat software setup as simple as Ubuntu does, because let’s face it…it’s just not that simple.
3. Wiki-centric documentation. It feels as if you’re getting information that teaches you how to do something, rather than just command lines crapped out of somebody’s butt into a forum post. Not to mention you don’t have to learn all the stupid buzzwords people throw around inside of forums to make themselves look important.
4. YaST. It really gives a new user the feeling that they can have control over their setup/environment as just a normal user without having to become a system administrator.
5. MONKEYS…no I mean Mono. A self-taught ASP.Net developer, I’ve had plenty of business ideas just never found away around the $2k+ per license cost for Windows Server to deploy them. .NET wipes the floor with Java and PHP in my opinion. Sure, learning Mono’s quirks versus stock .NET requires a bit of patience at first, but no pain no gain.
**6. AppArmor. ** Enough said.
Long-term…I think openSUSE has the most going for it of any Linux distro out there. To me at least, it’s the most flexible, the most interoperable, and the most empowering distribution out there. Using it doesn’t make me feel like I’m too stupid to learn it coughUbuntucough or so painful that I am somehow “doing penance for my Microsoft sins,” coughDebiancough. Ironic how those two distro’s share the same code genetics lol!
I’ll still need and use Windows for some things, and I’m not ashamed of it. My opinion is those dedicated to truly free software need to also practice the principle of freedom of choice, even if that means choosing non-free software. It’s also a huge part of building a truly “inclusive” rather than “exclusive” community.
Huge thanks to the openSUSE project team and Novell. If my financial situation was much improved I’d be able to properly show it. Until then, you’ll just have to deal with the uber-long forum post. openSUSE really is Linux for open minds.