Fedora Core 3 is what would have been RedHat 10 or 10.1 had RedHat not abandoned the boxed, retail-shelf market and therefore is its closest offering to Suse 9.2 Pro. Novell/Suse have recently announced their corporate desktop which appears to be in direct competition with RedHat WS and Sun's JDS. As such, with different offerings from both parties, I wanted to make sure I was comparing apples to apples and comparing Fedora Core 3 to Suse 9.2 Pro seems to be the best match up.
In all honesty, I've been a loyal RedHat user for many years. I started into Linux with Slackware, moved to FreeBSD for a while, then tried Solaris on x86, and eventually went back to RedHat around release 6.0. I faithfully bought or downloaded each RedHat release from 5.0 to 9.0 and have used both FC1 and FC2. I like RedHat. I'm most familiar with RedHat. I support RedHat for my paycheck (AS & ES). Since my network is comprised of about 70% RedHat servers, it makes sense that I'd use RedHat/Fedora on my own workstation. Honestly, I'd never really given Suse much thought until this last year. They were always a little too German for me. Searches on google for third party RPMs or support often left with me German-only web pages. However, with the Novell acquisition my thoughts of Suse have changed. I now see them more as an international company with better US (english) support. I also saw HP ship the NX5000 notebook (a Centrino-based system) with Suse 9.1 Pro with all power management and wireless working and realized that they had made some significant improvements. Over the last year, I've switched back and forth between Fedora Core 1/2 and Suse 9.1 Professional. With new versions of each being released, I decided it was time to pick one.
Scope of Use:
I think its also important to understand how a system will be used for a review. A review of FC3 as a web server will be different than FC3 as a desktop system. As such, understand that my intent is to replace my Windows XP system. On any given day, I use Mozilla for browsing the web, Mozilla Mail for checking my 5 personal email accounts, and Outlook for corporate email to our Exchange 2000 server. I use MS Word and Excel regularly. I access shares and printers on 2 Windows file servers. I watch an occasional DVD and listen to a music collection of both MP3 and WMA formats. From home or anywhere I have broadband, I VPN into our Windows 2000 VPN server and then use Outlook natively. If dial-up is my only choice, I use OWA. Lastly, I got the Centrino system for the battery life. I value my battery life. WinXP gives me about 3 hours with the stock battery. So, its with these ideas in mind that I tested both Fc3 and Suse 9.2 Pro.
I read lots of reviews on different Linux installations. In my opinion there is entirely too much time spent covering installation (and far too many screenshots). Granted, installing Linux hasn't always been the easiest thing to do, especially on a laptop. However, in recent years this has gotten much easier, even on laptops. While it used to be the norm to see article after article on workarounds for installing Linux, its now more common to be surprised when it doesn't install. So for simplicity's sake, I'm not covering installation except to say that I did a fairly standard install on both, though did a custom package selection on each and made sure I had both KDE and Gnome on both. Both installs were to my raw hardware (not cheated by using VMWare). My installation system is an IBM Thinkpad T41 (2379-DJU) which is a Centrino system with a 1.6Ghz CPU and 802.11b (ipw2100) wireless. My concern was more with usability than installation and since neither installation suffered, suffice it to say that both have good installation routines. Suse 9.2's installation routine was a bit different from FC3 and even from Suse 9.1 Pro. The installation was almost the same as 9.1, but appeared to only copy enough to boot, then rebooted and copied the rest of what I needed. I installed approximately 3.1Gb with each install, but Suse took about an hour to install while FC3 only took 20 or 30 minutes.