posted by Eugenia Loli on Mon 7th Oct 2002 07:27 UTC

"Using SuSE 8.1, Part II"
Click for a larger view But this is not too bad, because at least I know what is causing it. All I have to do is "revert" to the "nvidia" XFree86 driver and get on with it at the low 73 Hz. My main gripe with stability is the fact that my SuSE froze twice since last week in 2 of my 5 "configure" scripts I ran. No idea why it freezes on (different) ./configures. SSHing and killing the process would also take down the kernel as in the case of the nvidia freezing (they are different issues though).

Another problem I still have with SuSE 8.1 is that HTTP/FTP connections are slow to get resolved. Everything is correctly setup, but it takes more than 3-4 seconds to usually get to a web site, while on all my other OSes, including OSes in this very machine, getting to a site is instant (RealTek 8139 onboard NIC used). Please note that this machine is believed to be 100% Linux compatible by Microtel-PC (they have made tests to verify this, months ago already).

There is no SuSE without YaST of course. And YaST2 is really a very handy tool. It includes many-many modules to help you administer the OS better. From hardware settings panel, to partitioning, expert config tool ("PowerTweak"), Firewall, NFS, NIS, Routing, Connection Sharing, Proxy, Sound card configuration and many more as you can see from the screen shot. I like YaST2. Some of the modules have their own usability problems in terms of UI, but the fact that Yast2 works pretty well it compensates. YaST2 is possibly the important selling point of SuSE. I like it overall and it is something that really differentiates SuSE from the competition.

SaX2 is the tool where you can configure the X server for multi-head support, color, resolution, monitor, graphics card, 3D support. The fact that it does not let you pick your own refresh rate but rather it picks it by itself depending on the sync values could be either confusing for some users or limited for others (like in my special case of this 24" monitor that X does not support without forcing X via a custom modeline). But for "normal" monitors, SaX2 should work fine and it should be a pretty handy tool, even if it has bugs (see screenshot. One panel thinks that 3D is disabled, the other one says it is enabled; 3D is actually enabled but I still get an error message window telling me that the game I just launched requires 3D and that I don't have 3D (while I do, game does run on accleration). This error message started appearing only 2 days ago, it was working fine before that).

Click for a larger view So, what do I think of SuSE? I think SuSE is very tempting, very sleek and sexy. It does have bugs and problems though. It is pretty fast, similarly to as fast Red Hat 8 is (they both use the same compiler and build flags, but Red Hat 8 uses the new, enhanced glibc). It has a pretty professional/workstation look into it. YaST2 and SaX2 can be better, but even as they are today blow most of Red Hat's preference panels away. On the other hand Red Hat's XFT font properties are no match to any other Linux distribution so far, while Red Hat has good integration for Qt and GTK+ toolkits, something that SuSE doesn't. Overall, I believe that both distributions complement each other and each one is better than the other on different parts of the OS.

However, if SuSE fix some of the issues they have, get rid or redesign that package manager, license the Web Fonts, add some more GUI settings panels for wireless support, FTP & HTTP servers, better integration with Windows, fix some of their untested or buggy applications they include in their CDs, modify Star Office and GTK+ application to look more as their primary Qt platform and other such details, I believe that Red Hat's 'empire' in the Linux world will be in jeopardy. Red Hat has the contracts, money and resources, but SuSE seems to have lots of potential.

But users will need a demo for SuSE's distribution. I hope SuSE continues to give away the first CD of their distribution, so people can test before buy. It was a cool ride for me, despite the numerous problems I encountered.

Installation: 7/10
Hardware Support: 8/10
Ease of use: 8/10
Features: 8/10
Speed: 8/10 (UI responsiveness, latency, throughput)

Overall: 7.8 / 10

Note: This review is mostly focusing in the usability of the OS and its usage as desktop/workstation. If you are a sys-admin and you would like to review SuSE 8.1 PRO from the server point of view, we will be delighted to post your review. (BTW, here is another very recent review of SuSE 8.1, but in the German language. Translation here.)

Table of contents
  1. "Installation"
  2. "Using SuSE 8.1, Part I"
  3. "Using SuSE 8.1, Part II"
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