SUSE 10.1 alpha 3 was released this week and I thought I'd see if there was much new and exciting. As we look at the guis and applications, it appears as if most of the work must have taken place under the hood. When we examine the changelog, we find that's the case.
The installer was pretty much the same as encountered in SUSE 10.0  with the possible addition of MONO in the package selection. I perhaps suffered a few hardware detection/setup glitches, but they could almost be user error or related.
The first little glitch was due to my having added an extra tulip ethernet card to my machine a few weeks back for a specific reason, but I still use the on-board via-rhine fulltime. YAST wanted to use the add-in as primary. I preceded to set up the on-board as default, and then ended up deleting the extraneous card. It shouldn't have been an issue, and I'm not sure it was. However, during boot dhcpcd runs, but my eth0 wasn't functional upon login. I had to kill dhcpcd and re-run it. And then, it kept losing the connection. Sometimes it'd come back after trying to connect to the same site more than a coupla times, in gnome I used the net connection panel applet to reconnect, and I restarted dhcpcd a time or two. So, I think this issue wouldn't have cropped up if that other card had not been installed.
Then another ooops was with the video setup. I failed (read: forgot) to adjust for my preferences during install and booted into a 800x600 resolution desktop. This won't do and I fired up yast to adjust. I changed the settings to vesa 1280x1024x60 16-bit and saved. When I restarted (or attempted to) I got a "no screens found" error. Looking at the xorg.conf file, the syncs were badly underrated, but that's almost normal as my latest monitor is never detected correctly. "nv" was still showing as the driver but the showstopper was the 4 bit depth. Where did that come from? Anyway, manaully editing that file for my horizonal and vertical refresh rates and that bit depth got me back into X pretty fast. Now, one of the thing most people might like to do is adjust their video settings. This should work, but it didn't in my case. Good news, however, is I stuck with the "nv" driver as I noticed 10.1 alpha3 was using 6.9/7.0 rc2 of Xorg and that part worked out pretty good for my nvidia 6800 graphics chip.
KDE is at 3.5 rc1 in SUSE 10.1a3 and it was looking good. I covered most of it in my first look at the 10.1 series  and my source install of 3.5r1  on my gentoo system. So, it's been pretty much covered. It was quite stable and performed admirably.
Gnome on the other hand was a buggy excruciating experience. The file manager worked, but that's about it. Just about everything else I tried to open or launch crashed. I'm not sure why suse has such a hard time getting gnome to play nice. It was quite buggy throughout the 10.0 developmental cycle, but did work well in the final. I suppose this is the recipe to expect this time as well.
We're still looking at that SUSE Lizard wallpaper. ho-hum, come on guys, give us a new wallpaper! Actually, they did make the SUSE logo a bit more opaque.
About the only thing new I spied in YAST2 was the UML. "User Mode Linux installation allows you to start independent Linux virtual machines in the host system." As it only supported network sources at this time, testing didn't get too far here. But it looks promising.
Some package highlights include:
- Full RPMlist 
Some recent changelog highlights are:
- autofs: Bugfix: bad example ldif.
- beagle: Fixed lib64 patch & Remove upstreamed patch.
- gnome-session: Updated autostart patch to support per user's autostart directory and to remove duplicated entries.
- icewm: updated to 1.2.23.
- nautilus: Add patch to hide the zoom and "view as" controls from the location bar.
- sax2: added domain information to BusID setup.
- xorg-x11: updated to X.Org 6.9 RC2 & mouse driver fix from CVS.
- jack: Fix use of atomic builtins.
- kdelibs3: link with -O1
- digikamimageplugins: fix filelist.
- kernel: update to 188.8.131.52, prism54 : Fix frame length, ipvs: fix connection leak if expire_nodest_conn=1, Fix ptrace self-attach rule, & fix signal->live leak in copy_process()
- mkinitrd: Fix mount --move to really have /dev on tmpfs.
- powersave: added runtime powermanagement.
- wine: Upgraded to 0.9.1 release & Lots of bug fixes.
- gcc: Update to current SVN head & Check if we accidentially end up with make -j0 and fix it.
- Full Changelog since about alpha1 
If you look at the changelog and/or compare the rpmlist to the last one  you can clearly see that the developers having been toiling away, probably in some dark dungeon somewhere with only food and water to sustain them while some ogre cracks a leather whip. Most changes are under the hood as always, so it's not so easy to show in screenshots .
This is an alpha release and in the thick of major version upgrades and new feature introductions. We understand and even expect issues. Next month brings alpha 4. In January we can expect the first beta and things will really start to get exciting. The release schedule will get bumped up to highway speeds and we can expect the first release candidate on or about Feb. 16, 2006. We hope to bring you updated reports as developments happen.