Short bio: Computer Scientist, FOSS supporter (read more)
Tux Machines (TM)-specific
Another opensuse 10.3 alpha release is upon us already and there must be some major changes in progress. This hasn't been an easy "textbook" example of a beta test this release as issues began almost immediately after download. I should have had a premonition that the rest would be a rough row to hoe as well.
As stated in a previous post, the delta file failed here Thursday after downloading, leaving me to download the entired install dvd. But my problems didn't end there. After booting this new image through the first few screens a pop-up popped up to inform me that due to using new disk drivers, only the first 15 partitions could be seen on each drive. I noticed the detected drives now how a different naming convention as well. The harddrive partitions were now sdas and the cdrom drives were now srs. These new disk drivers must have been the cause of similar observations in Fedora 7. Anyway, I was informed of some work arounds, two of which involved some repartitioning. One other stated I could boot using hwprobe=-modules.pata. I decided to just go with it at this point as I probably wouldn't need to access these other partitions, but then the installer couldn't parse the install files from the /dev/sr0 drive. So, I rebooted using the cheat code described previously which kept it from using the new driver as promised, but none of the older drivers loaded automagically either and the installer couldn't see any disks at all.
So, I rebooted and tried loading up some commonly used drivers for my motherboard (ie. those that looked familar or I used when builting a kernel) and then the installer still couldn't read the disk in the cd drive. So, I extracted the contents into a folder and rebooted to install from the hard drive. I thought we were on our way.
But no, more trouble was in store. Early into the package installation an error appearred stating guile couldn't be installed due to some errors runing the setup scripts. After retrying a time or two I clicked ignore. This is the foundation for troubles I know, but it was either that or abort the whole thing. Anyway, expecting this to be the beginning of the end I anticipated more package errors, but surprisingly no more came. The guile rpm had been installed, so I rebooted for the continued configuration.
I had gotten throught the first couple of steps of configuration, root password and hostname, when it was time for the Network configuration phase. The detection began signaled by the busy cursor clock hands spinning. and spinning. and spinning. I walked off to eat supper and returned to find the clock hands still spinning. I believed it to be definitely hung at this point. There wasn't really much I could really do as the network configuration wasn't a seperate process that could be killed, so I rebooted.
Configuration began almost where we left off again asking for a root password and host name. Again, the installer hung at the network configuration screen. The only error visible at shutdown was one stating a loop in the smbfs. I thought that might be the cause, until I kept seeing it later on even with the network up and samba functioning. So, I guess it wasn't a fatal error.
The next boot I opted to forego the rest of configuration and just boot the system. With only a root user setup, I logged into the root desktop. This was the first time I'd seen the opensuse root desktop and it was characterized by a red background with the old cartoon depiction of bombs tiled throughout. Kinda funny. I should have taken a screenshot. Under vesa graphics at the much lower resolution, this is also the first time I noticed that the menu start button lizard's eyes seem to follow the cursor, especially when moved to the vicinity of his territory. That's cute. Is this new?
In the root desktop I set up a user account, network connection, graphics, and edited the start up services. At this point I logged out and back in as my user. KDE seemed the same and nothing to really report, so I logged out and into gnome. Here more troubles showed up. I'm assuming this is related to the guile mishap. First a pop up informed me of no assistive technologies, which I figured would be okay, but then the menu applet kept crashing. So, there was no menu. This persisted through a restart of gnome and a restart of the system. Otherwise, what I could see of gnome appeared the same as in the last alpha.
At this point, I figured I'd seen about all I really care to see. The developers are incorporating some changes at this time and things will get a bit bumpy for a while. Hopefully some will be ironed out before next release.
I'm not happy about the new disk drivers in the least. I'm not going to panic at this point. It seems like a hassle to have to at least load my disk drivers and hope devices will be made accordingly, but more likely have to rebuild an initrd for opensuse from now on if I wish to use my full disks. I can't see how distros can justify changing the default disk drivers to accommodate newer drives if it's going to break some slightly older ones probably still used by more people than the new. Hopefully there will be a user option in the future, but this definitely puts a kink in my love affair with opensuse.
I glanced over the license agreement to see what could possibly be different from the original 10.2 license, but the only thing I saw different was the inclusion of a clause stating that this software isn't intended to be used to develop nuclear weapons, to conduct terrorist activity, or kill people. Actually, I hadn't read the license in quite a while, so I'm not sure how long that's been there or if that's the new part or not. As far as non-free software, I didn't have to agree to anything different than usual: adobe, flash, and some fonts. So, apparently this is the subject of a whole new investigation and another day that would require downloading the new 10.2 GM cds and comparing the licenses I suppose.
So, I guess for a conclusion all I can say is they are working on it. It is another quite large changelog this time and boy things are broken. Don't bother testing this alpha unless you are signed up and plan to file bug reports. There were no visual changes except during the very first boot of the installer. They now have the default item listed under the extra options menu at the bottom of the screen. I am looking forward to next month's release to see what I see.