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SUSE against the tide

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There was always something endearing about SuSE Linux. Maybe it was the artless lizard (or is it a chameleon?) that is the SuSE logo, mascot, and general good luck charm that goes by name of ‘Geeko’, earnest and likeable with a kink in its tail, but definitely not slick. SuSE was always more businesslike and thorough than stylish in its choices, although this gave it a distinctive style of its own, unadorned and utilitarian, like the Lloyds building, where all the mechanical parts, pipes, lifts and escalators are visible on the outside wall.

Maybe it was that, even in the latter years of its independence, even a minimum install of a home version of SuSE Linux always entailed crouching over your CD-ROM drive waiting to eject and load an endless succession of CDs, as if the SuSE engineers were nostalgic for the good old days when a Linux installation came on a large pile of floppies. And however bare and tidy you thought your desktop was, one of those disks had always gone missing...

Or maybe it was that SuSE was Linux with a girl's name.

On the downside, SuSE, unlike other popular distributions of GNU/Linux, didn't provide a freely downloadable version. This was because SuSE included proprietary add-ons, and YaST, SuSE's install manager, did not come with a free software license. SuSE could only be bought in a box, which went against the spirit, if not the law, of the emergent Linux community. But SuSE escaped the sanctions that others encountered, because it always gave back to the community.

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