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The first 24-hours with openSUSE 11 (KDE 4) June 20, 2008

Posted by NAyK in Discussions-Conclusions-Hopes, Firefox, First Impressions, Flash 9, How-To, Linux, Open Source, OpenSUSE, Recommendation, Reviews, Software, Wallpapers, Working with Linux.
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12 comments

This is the first of hopefully the first of a few posts on my experiences using openSUSE 11.0 (with KDE 4). This post features download experiences as well as the installation review.

Abstract: Using openSUSE 11, it’s clear that we are in the company of “men” as opposed to “boys” (Ubuntu and PCLOS etc). Sadly, I find myself more a “boy” than “man” while using this distro and feel that openSUSE 11 is certainly NOT a beginner friendly distro… but made for committed Linux users and experimenters.

Brief information about my system: I am using a Lenovo Thinkpad, with (ONLY) 512 RAM and about 10 GB partition for Linux. Oh yes, I mainly use Windows XP (thus I am dual-booting).

Part I: The Download Story

Last night, at 10:00pm, I began my attempt to download the openSUSE 11 DVD using metalink. I’ve been a strong supporter of metalinks and have personally seen them dramatically improve download rates and stability. Sadly, my attempt to download the openSUSE 11 metalink was faced with failure (much like my previous attempt to dowload openSUSE 10.3 using this format). It turns out that Orbit Downloader, the programme I use to download metalinks, seems to have a problem. Whenever I tried to download the DVD (4+ GB), it would allow me to download only 243 MB. It turned out an Orbit problem because the metalink worked with DownThemALL (Firefox extension) and GetRight (a paid download manager). Sadly, each time I tried to download the openSUSE metalink using DownThemAll or GetRight, my Windows kept crashing. This was all-too-mysterious for late in the night and I finally settled to reinstall Orbit Downloader and tried to download the DVD link directly (without Metalink). This time it worked (allowing me to download the full 4+ GB). Sadly, in the morning, about 8 hours later, I found out that Orbit had only downloaded 50% and was giving my speeds of 2 KB/s!!! No luck, I saw.. and resolved to finally download the openSUSE KDE4-Live CD instead.

Part II: The installation story

By 11:00am, I had my openSUSE 11 iso burned and ready for installation. I took detailed notes on each step and the following is a step-by-step guide to what happened.

11:15am – MEDIACHECK

The Mediacheck (checking CD for defects) took about 5 minutes. And thankfully the download and burning was ok (phew!)

Sadly, when it said “press any key to reboot” I pressed any key and the computer didn’t do anything, it was just frozen. I had to do a force restart. (bug or just me?… hmmm… not a good start).

11:21am – Starting LIVE CD

Since my laptop is a little slow (512 MB), it took about 4 minutes for the LIVE CD to launch.

11:25-11:42 – Experimenting with Live CD and beginning installation (partitioning etc).

I spent some time with the pre-installation configurations, especially paying attention to the partitioning table. Interestingly, openSUSE did an excellent job to present a default partition table, but I just had to make sure that everything was alright… so I did my own configuration manually.

Interestingly for me, my time-region was not Calcutta (India), but Kolkota (one of the only distro’s I have seen to have the politically correct name of the time-zone).

11:42am to 11:51 – Installation

I was quite sad that I was using the CD instead of the DVD because there were no software options in the installation configurations (the openSUSE DVD installer has always been exceedingly excellent and powerful, giving users full control over what they want). Still, the installer was fast and the installation process was fast as well. I couldn’t imagine that the openSUSE installation could take about 10 minutes!!! earlier versions have seen me sit for over three hours during openSUSE installations. Things have changed… and that’s great.

11:51am – Reboot

As usual, the openSUSE GRUB was excellent giving me no problems. I’m quite confident that it could have recognised other distros if I had them.

Upon rebooting, the autoconfiguration got going and in about 7 minutes I had completed my openSUSE installation.

11:58am – Problems begin… mainly no internet!

I am spoiled by the “boy” distros, where internet connection is so easy, especially Ubuntu and PCLinux (and of course Linux Mint). But openSUSE really gave me the run around.

Firstly, there was no short-cut, upon installation, for configuration tool. Therefore, becasue I remembered, I went to YAST. But no matter how much network configuration I did, I was just not able to get my internet going.

I decided to use the local wireless to configure and interestingly, there was no wireless problem for openSUSE. That worked seamlessly.Except I couldn’t update on “battery” I was told! whaaat?

Anyway, I figured out that I had to use Knetworkmanager to configure, but even then I realised that I had to allow auto-host through DHCP. Well… that was a lot of trial and error and ultimately by 12:48pm, my wired network was working.

Off to lunch!

AFTER LUNCH CONFIGURATIONS…

Back after lunch, I chose to do my personalised configurations… like wallpapers and flash-plugin for firefox. But the flashplugin would install, I’d restart my browser, and find it not installed. I decided to install using the multimedia codecs downloads. But the repositories were all too slow for me… I had selected about six… so I brought them down to four: OS, NON-OS, General update, Packman And that helped.

The configuration, like Desktop etc was quite different from KDE 3.5 and needed me to get used to… still I’d rather work on this than 3.5. (Plasma, the KDE4 desktop thingy, has crashed ONLY once for me! :) )

For non-free codecs (yes, yes, I’ve sold out), the openSUSE community website has a one-click link for multimedia proprietory codecs, which was a relief.

Then began the other installations, like SAMBA and HP drivers (to allow me to work on my network) and also the other small packages, including some KDE games. But all that took a lot of time, because the repositories kept crashing (I had to keep retrying and sometimes start the whole process again)  Even as I write, that special software process is still going on, and I’m hoping it will finish in a few minutes so that I can go home.

The biggest disappointment after installation was that the repositories didn’t seem to have Firefox 3, and I had to install the manually through the Mozilla site. I haven’t had the heart to install the manual version at the moment, for fear of doing some damage. I’ll wait for all my updates and then get my Firefox updated as well.

The time now is 6:00pm… and I’m tired… and guilty… because I haven’t done much of my ACTUAL work. But still, this was fun, and openSUSE looks good, looks really good. But like I said above, the distro is not for the faint-hearted or pure beginners. I have installed openSUSE earlier, and that experience helped (because openSUSE is not like other distros). I’m still a newbie or a noob, though, and so, I have struggled where others might fly through. Still, I think the distro looks/feels solid and I can’t wait to actually start working with it… tomorrow!

For now, here’s a quick look of my desktop.

openSUSE11

Linux Mint 5.0 is Simple (in a good way) June 13, 2008

Posted by NAyK in Discussions-Conclusions-Hopes, Firefox, First Impressions, Linux Mint, Other Distros, Recommendation, Reviews, Ubuntu, Wallpapers, Windows, Working with Linux.
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9 comments

Linux Mint 5.0I finally found time to download and install Linux Mint 5.0 today, and happily wiped my already-feeling-outdated Ubuntu 8.04. The moral of the story is, Linux Mint 5.0 (Elyssa) is not a “rock your world” kind of distro, but it certain is easy to use as promised.

INSTALLATION

The installation procedure of Linux Mint 5.0 was very simple. Just put the CD in and after it loads, then click install and follow instructions. The entire installation procedure took about 35 minutes, which is pretty average and expected from a single-CD distro now a days. Unlike Ubuntu though, I did have to configure the internet connection (but I do think that the Ubuntu automatic internet connection is a bit of an anomaly). I also had some problems though… but that could be partly because of taste.

1. No Media Check option before loading the CD. While CD burning (especially using Linux) is getting pretty stable, I would think a Media Check option (to check whether the CD being used to install is defected or not), would be a standard boot-screen option.

2. Slow response to commands… by this I mean, when I clicked “next”, “next” in the installation screen, often I had to wait for a really long time before the next thing happened. For instance, when I clicked “next” after the Keyboard option, I had to wait for close to 30 seconds to start the partitioner. I think that’s a little too long, don’t you think.

3. No grub edit options, as far as I could see. While Linux Mint could be aimed only at the beginner, I would think allowing the user to select which is his/her default operating system would be a good thing.

4. After installation, Linux Mint logged in with a 800×600 resolution screen. With my previous Ubuntu experience I knew what to do… I logged out… and logged back in… and got my 1024×768 resolution. I don’t know if this is a bug or just something acting up in my computer, but it sure is irritating to do it all the time.

5. Interestingly, the Migrate Assistant (The option that allows you to get your Windows user settings onto Linux) worked in Linux Mint and not in Ubuntu 8.04 (for me). However, the migration was not perfect, missing several key bookmarks and even documents.

LOOK AND FEEL

I liked the Linux Mint look. The black and green look is nice. I especially liked the Login screen (I don’t know why), but the low-down login felt better than the windowesque side-login.

Also, multiple options for wallpapers makes up for the GNOME weakness of not having a direct internet connection to upload wallpapers. Some of the wallpapers are pretty cool.

USER FRIENDLY?

Yes, Linux Mint is simple. So, I like the automatic updates detection (as in Ubuntu). However, when I needed to find Firefox, I had to go all the way through it’s multiple columns. This was harder when I was finding more complex menus such as network connection settings and even screen resolution. I would think beginners would find some things hard to find here.

One Linux Mint feature is really irritating. the default search engine (in Firefox) is a LinuxMint customized Google search. That’s fine, except many of the normal links on the Google page are missing, and I have to actually type http://www.google.com to get the exact searches I need. So far, I haven’t found out how to stop that ‘service’.

Apart from that, I like the user experience of Linux Mint. It’s font rendition is fine, and yes, it did play my DVDs and mp3s out of the box. That’s nice! :)

LinuxMint5

SUMMARY

On the whole, I enjoyed the the entire experience of Linux Mint and I can already see myself using it more than I used Ubuntu. I’m not sure why, but perhaps the overall look and feel matters and Linux Mint looks better than Ubuntu. It also feels easier, partly because it seems quite simple (from installation and usage). Still, some weaknesses remain, but that could be simply a matter of preference. I’m now looking forward to help one of my friends install this onto his system!