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SUSE 10.1 continues to disappoint November 11, 2006

Posted by NAyK in Linux, OpenSUSE, Working on Linux.
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(latest update: I’m now installed 10.2 on my Lenovo and it’s not so disappointing as my 10.1. Installation review here)

I’m not sure why I was so excited by the review that said that SLED recognises all VIA drivers… that I decided to install SUSE 10.1 (not SLED… because that costs money) to my VIA desktop machine. (readers will be aware that I still have SUSE 10.1 on my Lenovo (Nov. update: not anymore. I have Ubuntu Edgy) , and I’m having many problems with it’s limited functionality. I can’t get it to recognise my network/printer, I can’t even get it to allow me to access my windows partitions!) Of course I’ve used SUSE on my desktop… I’ve tried SUSE 9.1 (single disk), 9.3, 10 and 10.1. So as you can see, I’m an avid SUSE follower and I really believed that SUSE 10.1 would solve all my concerns for a Linux distribution. But alas!

SUSE 10.1 on my Desktop

Since my Desktop is faster, it took me *only* 1.75 hours to install my SUSE, largely because I went for the simpler (only KDE) install. What took me some time, though, what the online update feature that expected me to register… and when I did, it asked for an activation code… whaaat? We don’t need Activation Codes for SUSE 10.1 do we? After trying three times… to answer a few questions in the browser… (during installation)… I gave up. The good thing, though was that internet access was no problem… no scare even (like on my Lenovo). And that was good. I still haven’t figured out the Activation Code thing though, I wonder what all that was about.

But, my real grouse with SUSE has been that it has been unable to recognise my VIA chip/driver. This time, the graphics rendition is so poor, that I am typing faster than the screen is allowing me to see the results… a clear indication that it is functioning without any recognition of my onboard graphic card. But the fact is my XLFD system recognises everything… Mandriva recogised everything… and even Ubuntu/Kubuntu recognised most of it… so why not SUSE?

I really like SUSE’s look… and it looks robust… but honestly… this lack of support is getting me really impatient. I understand that I need to buy equipment that recognises Linux… but VIA has linux drivers on its page… why can’t SUSE procure them?

Anyway, I’m writing this update from my SUSE 10.1 on my laptop… and I will not hesitate to remove it when I get my hands on Mandriva or Fedora… which I hope is very soon.

But this update is not supposed to be a rant… so I want to say that my experience with SUSE continues to be mixed… shifted more to the frustration side.

Problems…

1. No graphics support for my AMD/VIA desktop. And SUSE has very poor sound on my Lenovo Thinkpad.
2. I still have no access to my Windows Partitions… (come on, why should I have to go to the internet to find an answer to a question that needs not to be asked??? I mean, even Ubuntu allows FAT read access upon installation!!!)

3. KDE implementation looks boring… I still remember the good old SUSE 9.3 days… that Green Suse was original and excellent to look at (and work with). The subsequent blues are irritatingly sedate and corporate. I’d even prefer Mandriva’s gross orange over this!

4. Installation… very slow. Much more than other distros… of course I had 6 CDs to go through, but I only installed the basic KDE system, so why 1.5 hours? I can almost get a Windows XP system working in that time!

5. Repositories update is very very slow. And oftentimes (even now) I face a crash. This is the case even when I have only one repository enabled.

I think SUSE is an excellent distribution… but on my two machines it has only frustrated me

Good points…

A. Software packages. Everything that I may need is pretty much there. Even though the repositories are slow… (which I need because I want mp3/dvd playback capabilities)… still I like the selection of available software.

B. Regardless of a few unpredicatable crashes… it feels robust on the whole. I only have to compare this with my XFLD 0.3 system… to see how SUSE is superior in terms of stability. My XFLD is already giving me errors that I can’t fix (mainly in the boot process though it still works). For most SUSE problems, I think there are easier fixes, and perhaps a larger support community.

C. It’s still free! The reason I don’t like Mandriva is that it didn’t allow me to load new software… so even though it was an excellent distro for “my” machine… it’s self-imposed limitations were not friendly. I like SUSE for giving so much. But it’s just feels so frustrating that such a good distro just refuses to work on “my” system!

So finally, my word on SUSE is that I think/feel it is an excellent distribution… probably one of the best… but on my machines it has only frustrated me. Thus, looking for the next new revolution… I will be looking forward to erasing all traces from this menace from my machine. (if only I didn’t need to!).

ps. openSUSE 10.1 is probably one of the best distros regardless of what I’ve said. And here’s one review that supports this view. I would rather you try SUSE for yourself and make your own assessment.

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