Why now?

Hello there chameleon fans. My name is William Nett, and I’ve been a Linux enthusiast for years (Literally, I started out with Red Hat 4.2 back in 1998). I used to be a big fan of SuSE, but when they pulled their support for multimedia codecs and such, I thought they were doing the same thing as Red Hat, and as such… well, phooey. I understand that Linux makes a powerful server, but I wanted a powerful workstation as well. I actually enjoyed using SuSE for several years and even store purchased more than four versions… but the roof caved in when they pulled multimedia support and made things very difficult.

I wrote an article about this around five years ago at the Linux Desktop Summit in San Diego, and since then have adopted Ubuntu for my workstation. So my question to you all are these… what in the last 5 years has changed about SuSE that you like? What about SuSE has changed that you dislike?

Well, the roof did not cave in on SuSE nor on openSUSE. Maybe it did on the way YOU like to do things.

There is superb multimedia codec and application support for openSUSE, but it does not come from Novell/SuSE-GmbH. It comes from the openSUSE community. Specifically the source I always recommend for this is from the Packman rpm packagers (for openSUSE): PackMan :: Startseite

In fact, once one gets over the stubborn “fixation” that codecs are not supplied by Novell/SuSE-GmbH, and simply uses the multimedia supplied by Packman (which is very very fast and very easy to do) then IMHO multimedia is one of the strong points that make openSUSE superior over most other distributions. But typically new users (or ex-SuSE users) complain because they refused to ask for help, and could not not figure it out themselves (and ergo mistakenly concluded it had to be difficult, when instead it was a simple lack of understanding on their part), or they had a stubborn fixation that it HAD to come with the basic openSUSE, as opposed to being a simple add on.

If you note, it is no longer called “SuSE”. Its called “openSUSE”. That signifies a significant philosophical shift in the distribution formerly known as SuSE, and now known as openSUSE. That is because openSUSE tries harder than most other Linux distributions to follow the free open source philosophy. This is not only for codecs (which clearly is a pet peeve of yours) but its also true for proprietary software and drivers. openSUSE-10.1 was the first openSUSE version that did not include proprietary drivers. It probably did not get much press, because at the same time in 10.1 Novell/SuSE-GmbH introduced a new package manager that was very buggy, and that obtained all the press (and hence the lack of proprietary drivers was mostly over looked by many).

For example, with graphics, typically openSUSE comes with openGL drivers, but not proprietary graphics drivers. The open source community has tried to step up to the plate, and provide means for users to install proprietary drivers (for webcams, graphics, wireless … etc …).

Because it is now “openSUSE”, the community is more involved now in the alpha, beta, RC testing of openSUSE, than they ever were with “SuSE”. Some users are concerned that means openSUSE is more cutting edge than the older SuSE (with Novell’s SLED and SLES now being the more stable products), but I myself prefer openSUSE, primarily because of the superb multimedia support provided by Packman packagers (which is not provided for SLED/SLES) but also for other reasons.

Everyone has things that they like about a distribution …

The things I like the most about openSUSE are:

a. 1st rate cutting edge multimedia as supplied by the 3rd party Packman packagers !!

b. YaST administrative tool. No other distribution has a tool that come anywhere close. Typically users either HATE YaST or they LOVE YaST (although some are ambivalent). Me - I like it. It has spoiled me, and when I try other distributions, I seriously miss YaST.

c. Build service - this is an investment in the future for openSUSE: Build Service - openSUSE

d. openSUSE community (forums, irc chat … ) - Communicate - openSUSE and Welcome to openSUSE-Community.org - openSUSE-Community

e. openSUSE still (like the old SuSE) has the best KDE implementation around, and I am a KDE fan. KDE-3.5.10 on openSUSE-11.1 is IMHO by far the best KDE implementation, bar none. If one wants the newer KDE4, then openSUSE-11.1 also comes with KDE-4.1.3 which is good for playing around with the new KDE. More glossy than KDE-3.5.10, but less stable and with less (and different) features. Some of the more bold/cutting edge users have updated their openSUSE-4.1.3 to 4.2.x. In fact, the openSUSE community has put together many different live CDs of different desktops for openSUSE (3.5.10, 4.2.x … etc …) in addition to the nominal KDE-4.1.3 and Gnome live CDs.

OpenSUSE also has good package managers available for software installation. After the openSUSE-10.1 fiasco, resources were assigned to sort the package management, and openSUSE-11.1 comes with zypper, which is argueably one of the best package managers around. It is integrated nicely into YaST, if one prefers a gui. The Smart Package manager can also be installed on openSUSE, and it uses the same rpm database as YaST/zypper. IMHO, software packkage management is now a good feature of openSUSE.

Novell and SuSE-GmbH have also remained true to supporting Linux in general (similar to the philosophy of Red Hat and Fedora). For example, fixes they find for Linux, are promptly passed upstream. This is in contrast to Ubuntu, where Ubuntu route their Linux fixes thru Debian (if at all, sometimes they go no where with their fixes) and then maybe Debian might, or might not, pass the fix upstream. As a bare minimum it means a delay of Ubuntu fixes making it to the rest of the Linux community, … or worse their fixes stay with Ubuntu and never make it to the community.

What do I dislike ? … My dislike is Linux global, and not openSUSE specific … I would like to see the distributions agree more on the directory and configuration structure more, such that applications could be more easily shared between distributions.

Anyway, welcome to our forum. Stick around and contribute technically. If you have been around since Red Hat 4.2, you likely know many things that you could contribute that would help our user base.


Yast is the one thing, IMNHO, that sets Opensuse miles apart from all of the others. I can’t claim to be that familiar with Ubuntu (I’ve tried it, but was underwhelmed). But Yast absolutely rocks.

To the original poster, my favorite example about Yast: the command-line and GUI versions are essentially the same. If you’re in KDE or Gnome, you can enjoy configuing everything that way. If you’re at a CLI – even going in via SSH, for example – you get all of the same config tools in a very nice NCurses interface.

To contrast with one other distro, CentOS (which is essentially a “free” build of RHEL), some tools are GUI-only, others are CLI-only, and for some things, there’s no tool at all. You have to edit the config files yourself. At my advanced age (53), it’s no longer a matter of knowledge or skill; I’m perfectly capable (just to name one example) of editing my eth0 config. But I don’t WANT to. I LIKE being able to bring up a dialog and walking through it logically. It’s quicker and easier, giving me more time to work on more important things.

That’s just my opinion, and if you’re an Old Timer who started with RH 4, you probably prefer editing the files manually. Well … I don’t. :slight_smile:

Here’s where I’ll disagree with many on this forum re: 11.0 and 11.1. Try them and if they work, you’re good to go. They’re beautiful. Enjoy them. But if you start running across problems (such as the sound mysteriously not working, or the graphics going wonky for no apparent reason), don’t waste your time: back off to Opensuse 10.3. Also IMNHO, that release was Golden. I’m hoping that they get all the quirks and minor bugs worked out of the 11.x branch in 11.2, when I plan to try it again.

Remember: just my opinion and your mileage will definitely vary. :slight_smile: