Tech, Gadgets, Photography, Social Media and Poor Spelling
There’s lots of forums and even 3 or 4 releases in I still hear people talking about how much they dislike Unity, which is a shame because it’s turning into quite a nice Gui from where i’m sitting, however one thing Linux has is choice. If nothing else there are other solid, stable distributions out there which offer a user a good solid alternative. Once such example is maybe OpenSUSE.
I’ve recently had chance to install OpenSUSE on an Acer Aspire S3 and despite the issues I was having as a Distro it struck me that it is a viable alternative to Ubuntu not just for the people who have an issue with Unity, but because it offers some other things which can ease the new Linux user into this wonderful OS.
I’ve broken down the experience into things I liked about OpenSUSE compared with Ubuntu and things I didn’t like.
Downloading the 4Gb ISO as I did I was offered a choice of Gnome or KDE (and XFCE if my memory is good, which i might be imagining) During the install of Ubuntu there are 7 steps and its pretty easy for a new user to install, the OpenSUSE installer is based on YAST and and it can be as simple as the Ubuntu installer if you need it to be OR you can configure EVERY part of the installation should you need to. I have to admit it was a refreshing change having some of the options I was offered. I like this flexibility
Yast is the OpenSUSE configuration tool, one of the biggest complaints i’d have about Ubuntu (something Linux Mint has also done well at updating) is System Settings. Its so basic which causes no end of issues when you are trying to do more than the basic of configurations. With YAST you get all the configuration options for your system in one place, a single application and each option within YAST has multiple options.
Much like the installation simple may sometimes be good, however simple when you try and troubleshoot isn’t all that helpful. In Ubuntu troubleshooting can all too often take a user to the command line and while I don’t mind this YAST shows that this can also be achieved well from the GUI as well.
Yast is the OpenSUSE version of Control Panel.
I guess the GUI is probably the main reason why you might take a look at OpenSUSE, and the default desktop of this distro is KDE, pretty much SUSE is KDE and KDE is SUSE which means you get a well tested, understood environment. for a new user coming over from the Windows desktop KDE is a very similar to Windows which is sometimes good, sometimes bad however the additional apps such as kate, amarok, k3b which come with the GUI are far better integrated than gedit, banshee and evolution.
KDE is a well thought out GUI and its much improved and stable.
Just like Ubuntu YAST has a software centre, and while it’s more Synaptic looking that the current Ubuntu software centre, the search features and layout are very well done. However OpenSUSE has a nice little trick up its sleeve.
One Click Install makes it easy for users to install software, no matter where that software is located.
In the past, users would have to follow instructions explaining how to add package repositories, and select certain packages for installation. Now a user need only click on a link on a webpage, or a Setup file on a CD. Upon doing so, he or she will be presented with a wizard which will guide him or her through the installation process.
If you are an openSUSE user, you will probably have noticed these install links appearing in various places.
One Click Install works by using a special file format called YMP. This YMP file contains instructions which tell the package management system which packages to install, and where they are located. It is essentially a tutorial for installing the software that can be understood by the system.
4Gb Download not a liveCD
There is a live CD, and yes you could download it, the question is however what is a 720Mb file missing that the 4Gv IOS for the DVD has? the 4Gb download is huge and doesn’t actually have as much software on it as you’d think it does. Also the first update was almost a GB in download size.
All the useful repositories need to be added by the user
While YAST and its software installation is good, the default repositories don’t have as much software as you’d think and there is a bit of time spent finding the repositories and adding them, not easy and a bit of a pain.
Support pages can be a bit
Ubuntu’s killer feature isn’t its software, it’s the forum, the support, search “Ubuntu ” and add a problem there will be thousands of forums and pages offering well written help. Opensuse’s forums on the flip side seem to refer a lot to much older versions of the software and a bit patchy. (Not as bad as Sabayon mind you)
SUSE’s had a patchy past, however the current version is a stable OS with some great configuration options, it’s not lacking in support due to a back channel with Novell, and its got a solid release of KDE. Ubuntu could learn a lot from YAST and offering users both the default options AND the advanced ones too, too often things are dumbed down and you lose the very people who made you what you were (anyone watching Apple?). I think Ubuntu is a great distro for new users however for those who have maybe been using Ubuntu for a while might do a lot worse than taking a look at OpenSUSE.