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Community: SUSE Linux 9.2 Review

Nov 10, 2004, 20:30 (26 Talkback[s])

[ Thanks to Stomfi for this review. ]

After installing and using SUSE 9.2, I felt the urge to write a brief review my experiences.

SUSE 9.2 comes in a nice package: 5 CDs and 2 DVDs, all binaries, and couldn't wait to see what was included as I have a large /usr/local directory full of all the missing bits from other distributions.

Being a person who gets a lot of end user questions, I'm always trying to find applications to fit people's hobbies or business needs. And ecause I'm in the business of donating older hardware to the "Digital Divide," I tested the install on my multi boot P3 733MHz test box. It has aboout 400MB RAM, an NVidia PCI 32MB video card, three drives (10, 13, and 20GB), CD-ROM, USB HP Burner, ADSL Ethernet modem, TV Card, Intel Win Modem, onboard and ISA sound, Ethernet LAN, HP Laserjet, USB scanner, Win98, Fedora 1 & 2, Knoppix, Mandrake 10, and (now) SUSE 9.2.

This is a nice and complex machine for testing installation and performance for older hardware.

My overall opinion is that I'm completely blown away. Move over Fedora, SUSE gets first prize.

The installer found and configured every single bit of my hardware. It discovered the least used of my Linux partitions and recommended this for the root partition. I thought I might change the default reiser format back to my trusted ext3, but ran into some difficulty, so I left it as the install wanted. All I really had to do was change the timezone.

I accepted the default packages, although I would have liked an option to choose both KDE and GNOME. There are nice packages in each, but I knew I could install these later.

The install method requires the bootloader be installed, so it overwrites my existing one. Choice being what OSS is about, this seemed a pity, but a multiboot guru knows enough to fix it later.

Apart from these minor issues, everything else was easy peasy. I liked being able to set up autoboot to a default user for startup in the install phase. After the system finished its very automatic install by downloading updates by patching rather than whole packages (conservation of Internet resources is definitely a plus), I was looking at the familiar GUI interface.

There were some concerns. I don't have 20/20 vision, so I need to zoom my screen, which didn't seem to work, so I fired up YaST to reconfigure it. YaST appeared to hang when it tried to write my new options and I got tired of waiting, so I hit the trusty reboot.

It booted up but no X server. The console screen font was so small, I couldn't read a thing without a magnifying glass. Better fix this, guys.

I knew the YaST X config was a problem so I reconfigured with xorgconfig and used YaST to tell SUSE to use an X login. Tested, rebooted, and hey, it was back, and I could zoom in and read. I still couldn't see which console font I should set /etc/sysconfig/console CONSOLE_FONT to, so I will have to ask SUSE via their excellent online services.

Next I rebooted with the install disk and upgraded the system, installing just about everything, using all five CDs for the install. This put about 6 GB of software on the system. Far outski.

One of my friends likes to play guitar and sing. He wants to record himself but finds that doing the mixing afterwards is not effective. I have been collecting all sorts of extras for Linux to try to fix his problem. Lo and behold, these extras are all there in SUSE 9.2.

There are applications for electronics, art, speech, music. video, CAD, gaming, maths, writing, servers, education, programming, development, and office, just to list some. I can hardly believe how much you get for so little cost.

Novell and SUSE can be justifiably proud of this excellent replacement for Windows. Frankly, any user who can't see a benefit in migrating to Linux with SUSE 9.2 deserves to be ripped off by their current supplier. Any system builder who doesn't install SUSE 9.2 is doing users a great disservice.

A PC with SUSE 9.2 is what modern computing should be like and should cost. I'm blown away. I wonder if it flys as well.

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