openSUSE is a widely known distribution for its huge array of unique tools for managing virtually every part of the system, without having to even think about using the console. It’s also known for the stability of the official packages and releases, and it’s known for a very stable package-system.
SUSE was acquired in 2004 by Novell, which meant a significant change in the future development of the distribution. From now on it would be an open-source project for everybody to help developing, while Novell kept maintaining a commercial pay-only edition, focused mainly for corporations.
As it’s a free project it’s available for download, both via torrents and using one of the many mirrors available. openSUSE comes in both CD-editions and a DVD-edition. It is not a necessity to download and burn all 5 CD’s if you don’t have a DVD-burner, as there’s also a network-boot-CD available, which is only capable of starting the installation, while all the packages will have to be downloaded from the Internet (or the LAN if you have a server available with the installation-sources).
Booted into Windows, I inserted the DVD in the DVD-ROM-drive and expected to be greeted by a friendly autorun-menu with general tips on how to boot to the installation, but nothing happened. Well, fair enough, I went into “My Computer” and opened the drive to find some documentation. What I found was some release-notes and a lot of other useless files, and that was about it.
Well ok, so Windows-users are in for a rough start, let’s move on though to the interesting parts.