I last looked at openSUSE on Desktop Linux Reviews when it hit version 11.3. This update takes openSUSE up to version 11.4 so I opted to do a quick look instead of a full review on DLR.
openSUSE comes with a number of different desktop environments. For this quick look I went with the KDE version, but a GNOME version is also available on the openSUSE downloads page. You can also roll your own via the SUSE Studio site.
Here’s a sample of what’s new in this release:
Enhanced boot process
KDE Plasma Desktop 4.6
The package management changes include being able to download from multiple servers, among other things. This has the potential to provide faster updates, software installs and repository refreshes. I’m glad to see this though I never really had a complaint about the speed of openSUSE’s repository in the past. Hopefully it will please some users though.
It’s tough for me to quantify the boot process in this release since it’s been a while since the last release. It seems reasonably quick to me but your mileage may vary. I’d be curious to know if people see any significant boot speed improvements. Post your results in the comments if you notice anything significant either way.
I’ve been using the Firefox 4.0 beta and so far it’s quite good. It’s slowly wooing me away from using Chrome/Chromium and that’s saying a lot. I think openSUSE users will really appreciate it after they spend some time using it. It seems to be significantly better than the 3.x version of Firefox.
I’m very happy to see LibreOffice 3.3.1 included with this release. The sooner all distros switch away from OpenOffice, the better.
Here’s what you’ll need to run this update:
- Pentium* III 500 MHz or higher processor (Pentium 4 2.4 GHz or higher or any AMD64 or Intel* EM64T processor recommended)
- 512 MB physical RAM (1 GB recommended)
- 3 GB available disk space (more recommended)
- 800 x 600 display resolution (1024 x 768 or higher recommended)
openSUSE’s installer is one of the fastest, easiest ones available for desktop Linux. The install took about ten minutes or so, and I had no problems with it. Even total newbies to Linux should not have a problem installing openSUSE 11.4. See the image gallery page for all images of the install process.
When the install is complete you’ll see a welcome message that provides additional information. This is particularly helpful to those new to openSUSE 11.4, it reminds me of Linux Mint’s excellent welcome message.
openSUSE 11.4 comes with a respectable but not overwhelming selection of software. Here’s a sample of what you’ll find:
5 desktop games
K3b Disk Burner
Managing software through YaST2 leaves a little to be desired. Don’t get me wrong, YaST2 is highly functional, but it’s a bit of an eyesore. It screams “developer” instead of “user.” Linux Mint’s software manager and the Ubuntu Software Center are both much more welcoming and pleasing to the eye. I recognize that some folks could care less about the aesthetics of a software management tool, but there are newer users to think about and YaST2 just looks rather cold and sterile compared to other software managers.
I’d like to see an overhaul of YaST2′s software manager to make it aesthetically closer to the software management tools I mentioned above.
Using openSUSE 11.4
openSUSE 11.4 performed very well for me. I didn’t have any system crashes or other noticeable headaches.
The desktop is attractive and very well branded. You know that it’s openSUSE you are using and not some other distro. As always, I disliked the sliding KDE menus though and promptly switched to the classic menus by right clicking the green openSUSE button on the panel. I’ll never warm up to those sliding menus. Ugh.
openSUSE 11.4 is also organized well so it’s fairly easy to find the applications and tools you are looking for.
openSUSE 11.4 is definitely worth checking out if you are in the market for a desktop distro. It’s arguably one of the best desktop distros available, and I expect it to remain among the top choices for a long time.
Beginners, intermediate and advanced users can all enjoy openSUSE 11.4.
Distrohoppers should absolutely give it a download and check it out in a virtual machine or on real hardware. It’s well worth the download time.
Click to the next page to view the image gallery.
What’s your take on this distro? Tell me in the comments. For full distro reviews, visit Desktop Linux Reviews.