posted by Uri Sharf on Thu 28th Oct 2004 21:01 UTC
IconNovell has recently released SUSE Linux 9.2 LiveCD/DVD edition. In line with its impressive track-record, SUSE managed to make yet another step forward each time. Having used SUSE 9.1 for a while now, I was more than looking forward to this new release, so I downloaded and ran SUSE 9.2 LiveCD on my Dell Inspiron, and gave it a try.

After buying both SUSE and Ximian, Novell obviously feels challenged to keep not to prefer one over the other. With this release, Novell decided to provide 3 editions: KDE 3.3, GNOME 2.6, or both , if you run the DVD version.

As for branding, would it become Novell Linux or remain SUSE? It seems that Novel will keep the 'SUSE' branding for the free/community version, while the 'Novell Linux' branding will be reserved for it's enterprise class variant.

Starting up

I downloaded the KDE edition for this test. I used K3B to burn the image and was quickly able to have a first glimpse: SUSE 9.2 boot splash seems a bit more refined.

From the welcome screen, you may either start the LiveCD immediately, or opt for a safer attempt, passing the kernel 'acpi=off, apm=off'. You can also change the default screen resolution (F2), verbose mode (F3), or even change the preferred language (F4) - which is either English or German, although the default is indeed English.

My first attempt was a real blow. Trying to simply run it, SUSE just hanged a short while after starting up the PCMCIA modules. I already knew IRQ conflicts could occur, but I was hoping for a more refined experience trying to resolve this.

Trying again to start up in safe mode, didn't change much. I actually found myself looking at a kernel panic message, when I escaped out of the graphical bootspalsh.

I knew I would need to take a more direct approach, so I passed pci_irq_isa=7 to the kernel, which did the trick. SUSE, which has switched with this release to, started X with the generic nVidia modules flawlessly, and I was soon staring at the all-too-familiar KDE desktop, with the some what naive desktop wallpaper SUSE seems to prefer.

Mind you, SUSE was painfully slow to start on my box, especially when compared with Knoppix or Kanotix on the same hardware. It took ages to pass the initial boot until it finally switched to run level 5. Though once every thing was loaded into memory, it seemed quite responsive.

The Desktop

SUSE, being a somewhat conservative distribution, did not change much about the look of the desktop. It still uses the famous SUSE window decorations, and the ThinkKeramik widget theme. Not my cup of tea, and I was disappointed to see Plastik is still absent, or rather removed.

The green camelion now has the slogan "a novell business" under it, and on the desktop you can find MyComputer, Help, Network, Trash and other launchers. The panel has Kontact (which replaces KMail) alongside SUSE Hardware Tool, Klipper and a new applet to handle SUSE's SCPM profiles.

Hardware Support

Immediately after logging in, SUSE launched the hardware detection support, and found my IntelliMouse Explorer and HP PSC 2510 Multi-functional printer, which it also setup for me. Still, the printer didn't show up in the Print Manager, until I manually finished the configuration using YaST.

Another integration issue which I found disappointing was not setting up the scanner. The HP PSC 2500 was already detected and configured, so it seem it would have made sense that the scanner would have been configured as well. I had to do this manually though.

More so, I was not able to find the scanner using YaST (with the default 'linux' user), so I had to do this as root. I ran the pat_init setup script from the command line, and sure enough, it picked it up as a USB device instantly.

BTW, YaST suggests installing Kooka when you try to access the Scanner settings, but it is actually not available on the CD itself it seems.

I then tought I should explore SUSE's mythological plug and play capabilities a bit further. I've plugged in a Toshiba PCMCIA DVD/RW. No response from SUSE, even though a quick 'dmesg' showed me that the kernel was aware of it, or so it seems.

I then plugged in a Nokia SmartPhone, just for laughs - SUSE seem to only offer KitchenSync (for GPE/OPIE/Qtopia) and KPilot, and, indeed, nothing much happened. I could see it has a new USB device on my system, and I've managed to modprob the usbnet module as well, but AFAIK unlike Familiar, for instance, WindowsCE does not have a native TCP/IP support over USB.

But most importantly was actually getting SUSE to have interent access. As with previous versions, it recognised both the onboard 3COM ethernet card (3c59x), and the Orinoco PCMCIA WiFI card (yenta_socket,orinoco_cs).

It didn't route the network through the WiFi, however, even though it was the one with an active connection having obtained an IP from the DHCP server on the AcessPoint. I had to disable eth0 before I could connect, though I'm sure there's a better way of doing this - is there?

Table of contents
  1. "SuSE Live CD, Page 1/2"
  2. "SuSE Live CD, Page 2/2"
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