SUSE 10.1 Beta 5 Report
Why? That one thought kept echoing through my thoughts as I installed and ran SUSE 10.1 Beta 5. Around the net several articles entitled something to the effect of "SUSE releases two betas within 4 days" as if it was an accomplishment of 10.0 proportions! Some progress was made, but it reminded me of the old saying "2 steps forward and 3 steps back."
If you look at the "Most Annoying Bugs" report and compare it to Beta4's, you'll find that not only was very little fixed, but they even introduced more bugs. As you can see, I've highlighted the left overs in blue and the new breakage in red.
Now I love betas, you know I do. I've been installing and testing linux betas for several years now, so I expect breakage. Sometimes it's so minor that some betas are more stable and usable than other's full releases. Some are comical or entertaining. But most of SUSE's latest betas should have delayed release until they are fixed, most notably the partitioner. Not that I got bit by that one myself, but worse case scenario, it could render someone's system inoperable or even result in data loss. However, giving credit where due, at least they advise the user and surely no one in their right mind would try to upgrade to or install this beta as their main system.
I'm not sure why they'd even want to release when their crowning jewel, YAST, is so broken. This seems to me like a bad judgement call. In addition, having the xconfig broken during install would be a definite brickwall to some. Vesa implementation would not be the end of the world, in fact with my video card it's the best choice with a lot of systems, but my install didn't even address X configuration. It was skipped altogether here. As such my first boot halted and hung at the point at which it would normally try to start the graphical login manager. It should have failed and left me at the command prompt. I ctrl+alt+del'd and restarted using init 3 to get to the commandline, at which point I installed the "fixed rpm" and ran xorgconfig. Next I ran startx and got in.
Another "most annoying bugs" of this beta's installer was the second stage in text form. They classify it text, I use the term "ascii-graphical." This isn't so much an annoyance as entertainment to me. I've always kinda marvelled at SUSE's text installer. It is almost a carbon copy of their beautiful graphical installer - only in text. I don't imagine there are too many people who appreciate that as much as I, but I have to wonder how much work was originally put into that considering how it compares to Slackware's and others. So, having to finish in text mode wasn't an annoyance here, in fact I enjoyed it, but it's an indication of how broken things really are.
One of the "most annoying bugs" for me is that any installation method other than straight "5 burned cds" is totally broken. I hate to contribute to the pollution problem and empty my own pocket in the process as well, so I first attempted a harddrive install which would error out before probing of the mouse. Next I tried the dvd remaster, but it would bomb out just when it was supposed to begin the package installation. Harddrive installs have been officially broken for the last two betas, but truth be known, it's been broken this whole beta cycle. I could coax a hard drive install from betas 1 - 3, but I had to walk all the way around the barn to do it. In actuality, all manual installation methods are broken. In fact, their "one path to installtion" had several packages fail to install properly. I hope they get that one fixed pronto!
I noted above that most of the "Most Annoying Bugs" are still present in this beta, however if you examine the changelog you'll find the developers were not taking the week off. They have been busy fixing a lot of bugs and working hard hard hard on yast2. In fact, yast seems to dominate the changelog this time.
Although the package manager is still broken on several levels, it is coming along. Now we can see that we have the choice of our "Selections" and the catagories show up, albeit twice. However at this point the individual packages did not. The Software Catalog allowed me to add a repository, retained it this time, and then the indivdual packages appeared. However it was not usable as I still couldn't install any additional packages. This rendered setting up extra hardware inoperative if it required additional packages.
Two of the required packages for xgl was included this time, but two still need to be downloaded from a "Factory" repository. rpm at the commandline still works, so it's possible to install these packages. The xgl and compiz packages are in the suse/i586 directory of your cd5. libsvg can be downloaded here and libsvg-cairo can be had from here. I followed the directions from SUSE, but I wasn't successful in implementing this feature at this time. I may keep pluggin' away at it, but if anyone else has had better luck, feel free to submit your screenshots.
If you're interested in the lastest version number of your favorite application, you can consult the complete package list or my rpmlist as tested. I usually install everything considered desktop and developer related. I usually skip the advanced servers, xen, and mobile computing.
All in all, I'm of the opinion that betas 4 and 5 should have been delayed until less things are broken. I have a friend who has called SUSE "the new Mandrake" more than once. And I agree. We mean that in the sense of, ...do you remember when Mandrake was innovative, bold, even groundbreaking? They were the first to implement new technology and were always on the cutting edge. Their hardware support was always the very best. SUSE is "the new Mandrake" but we wish they didn't stick to their release roadmap so stringently. Sometimes it is best to delay.
Not too many new screenshots were taken this time, as the interface remained unchanged. You might want to peruse the beta 3 shots for a more complete overview or even the beta 4 if you're interested in the progress of the Software Management.