I want to thank srlinuxx for her great review of this SUSE release candidate. After the firing of Mandriva's founder, Gael Duval, and the failure of Mandriva to release appropriate and timely updates, I scrubbed the Mandriva distro from my main home machine and installed PCLinuxOS. I've pretty much settled on PCLinuxOS as my preferred workstation desktop, but I'm still looking for a server OS.
So, I decided to install SUSE on my second hard drive. What follows is my reaction to a SUSE install and configuration, from the standpoint of someone who is an intermediate Linux user, but has no experience with SUSE.
I downloaded the 64-bit SUSE version, burned the 5 CDs, and started the install. The installation of SUSE was a ho-hum matter, although I did do some custom disk partitioning. However, when it came time to start the machine up in X, the SUSE install set up xorg.conf at too high a sync rate, and I had gibberish on my LCD display.
I rebooted into failsafe mode, and edited xorg.conf with the editor “Joe” (a wordstar clone—wow, that does date me!). I restart X, and finally get a usable screen. I then download the latest Nvidia accelerated drivers, install SUSE's kernel source, restart in failsafe mode, and install the latest NV drivers. After the Nvidia drivers install, with SUSE there is an extra step to configure xorg—running sax2 from the command line by typing:
sax2 -r -m 0=nvidia (0 is a digit, not a letter!)
I restart X, and my display is running great. Even though my eventual goal with SUSE is to use it as a server, I want to see how it is in the desktop role. The difficult thing when using an unfamiliar distribution is where to find software repositories—you just don't know the landscape.
Since I occasionally play DVD movies, I grab one, and try to play it with Kaffeine. I get a message that SUSE won't play encrypted movies because the drivers are not legal for them to distribute. Out to the Internet I go, looking for a SUSE version of DeCSS. It's difficult to find, but I finally find a version to install. I then update Kaffeine and Xine. Finally the encrypted DVD movie plays (flawlessly).
Alright, that took some time and trouble, but it's working well. Time to hunt for my favorite KDE styles and window decorations. I find my preferred eye-candy without any trouble, and install it. The screen is looking nice.
I typically install the latest version of OpenOffice.org. So I go to Pavel Janik's FTP site, and download and install OOo build 163. I start it up, and it's running fine.
Since I'm a high school computer science teacher, I'll need Java. I'm used to downloading the latest from Sun, so I go out and grab their latest 64-bit version and install that. I run a few tests, and see that Java is performing very well on this machine. I then get the latest version of the Eclipse IDE for development of more complex Java projects, install it, and it too is running well.
I like to play Shoutcast radio when I'm working on my machine, so I test out my two favorite audio players: XMMS, and amaroK. Both are working well.
So, what didn't work? Even though I usually use Kmail as my primary email client, I decide to use Mozilla Thunderbird. I install it from the SUSE CDs. It wouldn't run. I then go to the Mozilla site, download Thunderbird from there, install it, and it works fine—go figure.
I have an attached Seagate 120 GB USB hard disk drive on my system which I use primarily for backups of critical data (You DO * backup * your critical data, don't you?). However, it took some time with SUSE to get it to allow me to write, as an ordinary user, to this USB drive. I even ended up editing fstab.conf. No doubt an experienced SUSE user could tell my how to accomplish this in a flash.
So, everything I typically use is working very well, and I'm liking SUSE more and more as a desktop. Now it's time to test it out in a Server role.