Well... Not entirely, that is. If you dig around enough, you'll find out that Suse does allow people to download and install directly from their FTP site, but I read several reports from people who have either done this, or tried to, and all of these pointed towards both slow download speeds and missing functionality as problems with installing via this method.
Again, I'm not saying that either's true as I didn't actually try and install via either method, but the issues I read about were indicative of how Suse presents itself: They're here to sell you what is arguably one of the better Linux distributions available. They don't advertise the fact that they offer downloadable versions of their software, even thought they apparently do, and they evidently don't go out of the way to make such downloads as easy to use, or as easy to get as they do their retail versions.
Which is fine! That's one of the great things about Linux is that you can more or less do with it what you want. As I said, I've both purchased and used Suse in the past, and while my memories revolve primarily around their Sax configuration tools, which even a couple of years ago were of very high quality, they were always good, well thought out distributions. For this project though, I want to definitely try before I buy, and after reading about others Suse download experiences, I decided to skip their latest release.
This isn't to say that I've written Suse off, but merely to point out that their current marketing strategies didn't make them good candidates for this evaluation.Final Words
So where does this leave me as far as my original goal goes? What system will meet most of my goals while providing a nice base on which to build for the future?
After a few months of experimenting and evaluating, in addition to irritating the hell out of my girlfriend ("I just don't understand why you're trying all of these different versions if they're all Linux!"), I'd have to say that Vector Linux takes the cake!
Yoper probably would have won if they would have retained a Slackware-compliant backend, and if they'd have hired some people who understood their user base, but they didn't do either, and as a result they alienated a lot of people with their tactics. Additionally, Yopers high price and subscription model both make a good argument for looking elsewhere.
Vector Linux is rock-solid, and mega-fast. Especially when you consider that it, like Redhat is an i386 optimized distribution! Vector gives me most of the programs that I would normally install anyway, and it gives them to me without complaining at all about dependencies. Add to that the fact that Vector looks good with its anti-aliased fonts and system-wide integration, and you've got a winner of a distribution!
I used to wonder why my wine-enabled apps ran so much faster under Yoper than Redhat, and I now have come to the conclusion that it's something to do with its Slackware backend as Vector is easily as fast as Yoper with both Wine and regular apps. It just smokes!
Additionally you get great support from the Vector forums, and a huge archive of software with which to play thanks to its Slackware heritage. But don't take my word for it: Get out there and download a copy and see for yourself.
About the Author:
I live in Michigan and am currently employed as a Web Developer. I've been involved in computing for the last 20 years, give or take, with my first experience having been an upgraded Atari 400 my father purchased for us for Christmas one year. My first PC was an Amiga 500, and I currently am planning my next box, which will be a dual-CPU AMD system. In addition to the countless hours I waste in front of a PC, I'm also a musician (primarily guitar as of late), I do graphic artwork (primarily computer graphics, but I've done more traditional artwork as well), and in addition to plants and horitculture, video editing is a growing hobby of mine.
- "Intro, Windows"
- "Mac OS X"
- "Linux Minus"
- "Linux Distros: Yoper"
- "Linux Distros: Redhat 8.x (Phoebe)"
- "Linux Distros: Mandrake 9.1 RC2"
- "Linux Distros: Ark Linux"
- "Linux Distros: Vector Linux (Soho 3.2)"
- "Linux Distros: Gentoo Linux (and other source based distros)"
- "Linux Distros: Suse Linux, Conclusion"