A look at opensuse 11.1 Beta 3

In linux, opensuse on October 28, 2008 at 1:54 am

Having had the extremely thrilling experience of spending the better part of a Saturday trying to get opensuse 11.1 beta 1 up and running, I gotta say, one month later, I’m pretty excited at how well the next opensuse release is shaping up. I happen to be one of those people that believe the best way to test software is to use it on a production system, which is precisely what I do. It’s hard to be bored with your system when you’re using beta software day in day out. It really is rewarding to be able to follow a fledgling project, watch it develop, morph and mature (growing pains and all) right before your very eyes. Read on to find out what the opensuse team has been doing these past few months.

The install media I used for my laptop was the 64 bit full dvd. Due to virtualbox’s lack of 64 bit virtualization and my reluctance to download another 3 gig iso image over bittorrent, I’ll be showing images of the live cd instead. Really, other than the partitioner, the install process on the full dvd hasn’t changed much over opensuse 11.0. For the sake of thoroughness, it took about 18 minutes to install 2.5 GB worth of packages on my laptop when I used the full dvd.

Moving on!

I hope 11.1 doesn’t ship with this boot screen. It nearly drove me insane in 11.0. The splash screen on the other hand looks pretty good, although it could also use a change.

Not much to say about the startup really. Everything was detected with no problems. Infact, I’d have been more surprised if any of my hardware was not detected. I mean, let’s face it, linux has gone beyond the point where hardware detection and installation were the biggest stumbling blocks.

I’m using the kde 4 live cd here. A lot of work has gone into improving basic user functionality in kde 4.1.2. For example, there are now three desktop views to choose from in the desktop settings dialog. The first view is the one we all know and love, with the peanut on the top right. A second option allows the user to get rid of the peanut. The third view is the basic icons-on-desktop look, also containing the peanut which can be used to pull up the desktop settings window. The folder view widget can of course be used with all three options.

I went ahead and themed my desktop, so some of the following images will not have the default wallpaper or settings.

Even though I’ve been using kde 4 since 4.0, I was always irritated by the fact that no matter what, I couldn’t get rid of the panel. I’m happy to say the panel can be auto hidden in 4.1.2. It’s still not perfect, but it accomplishes the intended purpose.

Installation from the live cd is pretty much straightforward. Clicking the install icon pulls up the standard novell license agreement, followed by locale setup and the partitioner.

The partitioner is the biggest thing that changed within the installation. I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.

Some people will love iit. Others will hate it with a passion. I’d have to say I’m in the latter group. I think the partitioner should be more graphical, not text oriented. I appreciate the effort to simplify it, but in the end, it tosses in too many unnecessary steps, while leaving the old partitioner intact. Anyway, opensuse is composed of a lot more than just the partitioner, so let’s move along.

As with the 11.0 install, the option to use the default user’s password as the root password is enabled by default, but can be disabled as well. The user setup is followed by the summary screen and of course the install.

One of the many reasons why I love opensuse. Even on the live cd, you have a choice of desktop environments.

Other changes in kde 4.1.2. Power management is finally being implemented. A new icon was added to the advanced tab under system settings. Only thing that’s left is to add all this functionality to a systray icon, the way kpowersave does.

Networkmanager 7 is also being integrated into the system settings menu, but I didn’t grab any snapshots of it. There’s still quite a bit of work remaining on that front before it gets anywhere near the functionality of knetworkmanager (ie not needing to type in all your info manually).

Seriously, this is turning into a kde 4.1.2 review, but I do have one more kde related news to add. The built in desktop effects in kde now include desktop cubes, cylinders and spheres. I know, I know, it’s been available for over a month now. I just haven’t really seen any posts about it.

Another major overhaul in opensuse 11.1 has been the printer wizard. I like what they’ve done with it, but I’m sad to say that my brother mfc printer no longer works.

Other little things worth noting. Pulseaudio is included by default, as it was in 11.0. The last few months have seen pulseaudio really come into its own. It was one of the buggiest apps in 11.0, but now, it just works. I hardly even remember I’m using pulseaudio nowadays, which is a good thing.

Amarok 2.0 beta and openoffice 3.0 RC1 are also included. They both look awesome.

I’m sure there’s a lot of things I’m skipping over here, but this is really all the major things I can think of at the moment.

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