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Community: SUSE Linux 9.2 Review

[ 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.