On the Bench: OpenSUSE 10.2
Suse 7.2 was my first Linux distribution ever, around five years ago. I was impressed but also had to struggle with all kinds of issues. That was part of the fun. I remember the sales pitch that working with Linux is like working on the engine of a car while it is running. You were supposed to fix things as you went along. Ever since, the distributions became more and more userfriendly. Suse was bought by Novell, Yast was open sourced and recently Novell made a pact with Microsoft. Suse Linux Enterprise Desktop 10 is considered by many as a solid enterprise ready desktop and community development is taking place in the OpenSUSE project. Over the years I have been impressed and disappointed with the Suse releases. I had serious issues with either 9.1 or 9.2 that would destroy the ability to multiboot to XP. There was a simple patch, but in the Novell Linux package six months later that patch was still not integrated. Then there were the issues with the software update module in 10.x. On the other side there were the spit and polish and the ease of use of Yast, so SUSE and OpenSUSE are distribution I like to keep my eye on as serious contenders to convince Windows to Linux migrators.
OpenSUSE 10.2 is available in either 5 CD’s (plus 1 Add-on packages disk), 1 DVD (http://en.opensuse.org/Download) or a retail double-layer DVD. For this testrun I downloaded the DVD through bittorrent.
Yast is still taking care of the installation routine and that remains a solid and powerfull tool. You can select either KDE or Gnome as your favorite desktop. The option “other” only provides two new options, minimal or no graphical interface. I decided to stick with Gnome for now and accept the default packageselection, which left me with a 2,33 Gb install. This is somewhat bigger than a default Ubuntu install. One thing I really like about Yast is the overview screen where you can tweak all installation settings. This would certainly appeal to the Windows powerusers, but could overwhelm the more average users.