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openSUSE 11.0 - Smooth Outside and Rough Inside

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openSUSE 11.0 has been one of the most anticipated distributions of the 2008 release season. In terms of innovation, openSUSE is perhaps the most ambitious of all the highly popular Linux distros so far this year. Since its 10.0 release to the open source world in 2006, openSUSE has experienced its share of ups and downs, not the least of which has been questionable quality assurance on final releases. Most notably, since adopting several poorly integrated package management backends in the 10.x series, openSUSE has alienated even some of its most loyal users. On the other hand, openSUSE has generally maintained its reputation of being polished and detail-oriented. What will the 11.0 release bring to the Linux scene?

Grade: C

The openSUSE 11.0 Live CD installer at first glance looks simple and attractive. Upon booting from the live CD, I was greeted by a very polished, animated, multilingual greeting screen. The live CD booted in less than 3 minutes to a live Gnome desktop. I immediately launched the live CD installer from the desktop link. In general I found it to be a pleasant installer, except for one glaring exception— The partitioning step proposes very invasive automatic partitioning changes. On my system, it suggested shrinking my Windows partition, deleting all of my existing Linux partitions, and creating a new partition for itself. I find this to be a potentially disastrous option. Installers like this that try to be overly-helpful only do a disservice to ignorant users.

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