posted by Anand Vaidya on Wed 5th Jan 2005 18:19 UTC
IconOn October 22, 2004, Novell released SUSE Linux Professional 9.2 (abbreviated as SLP9.2 henceforth) targeted at the home user and Linux enthusiast crowd. Since I am already using SUSE 9.1 for my daily work on my IBM laptop, I was quite eager to check out 9.2. SLP9.1 is already a very polished Linux distribution, with tons of software ready to go. So here's a SuSE user's review of 9.2 after several weeks using the new version. Update: Also see some 9.2 screenshots with KDE and Gnome.

I run Linux exclusively on my home computer, laptop and all servers at my work place. Most of the customers that I support run some flavor of Linux or UNIX. I wanted to evaluate how well SLP can fit any/all of these roles. Currently I run a mix of distributions: Suse, Debian, Red Hat, and RHEL recompiles such as WhiteBox and Rocks.

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Traditionally, I have been a Red Hat and Debian user with occasional flings with Gentoo and SuSE Linux Enterprise Server, but only recently migrated to using SuSE on a daily basis.

I asked Novell's Singapore office for a copy of SLP9.2. The next day, Novell couriered me a nice green box. (Thanks to David Tang) I have installed the copy on my home PC, laptop, an Athlon64 Shuttle XPC and a very high end IBM Z-Pro Technical Workstation to test various functionalities.

I have run the installation for several weeks to look out for any problems (lockups, usability, missing packages etc) This review is a summary of my experience and observations.

A brief Introduction to SLP9.2:

Price:

You can buy full-version, boxed sets for US$ 89.95 either from the online store (and pay a hefty US$60 UPS airfreight to Singapore, as I did on earlier occasion) or order locally for about S$168.00

An update version for current SLP9.1 owners is offered at US$59.95 (Also available is a student version for the same price.)

The boxed set contains:

  • One 300+ page printed User Guide

  • One 700+ page printed Administration guide

  • Some leaflets

  • One CD/DVD box with

  • A combined IA32 (x86 Pentium, Athlon, Celerons, including mobile versions), AMD64 ( x86_64 ) and EM64T installer DVD

  • A DVD with all source code

  • Five CD-set with IA32/x86 installation files.

  • Over 3500 software packages

Documentation:

I browsed through the comprehensive printed documentation. Even for a person like me who has been using Linux for several years, the printed manuals offer a treasure of information. The manuals are of professional quality and any user with reasonable computer skills should be able to pick up Linux by referring to the manuals.

The User Guide explains installation and mostly desktop-type activities, such as using Graphical Desktops (KDE, Gnome), using file managers, web browsers, email clients, multimedia (sound, video, CD/DVD recording and playback), office applications (spreadsheets, word processing, presentations), graphics editing, using digital cameras, scanners, printers, etc

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The Administration
Manual is considerably bulkier and covers Installation, setting up various servers (web, email, DNS, DHCP etc), using the Graphical Admin Tool, YAST, Hardware issues, backups, system security, and advanced topics such as LVM, package management, notes on 32- and 64-bit computing (on AMD64 or EM64T hardware), booting issues, kernel related topics, X-Window System, laptop issues such as multiple profiles, PCMCIA devices, Wireless devices hotplug facility and file synchronization between multiple systems.

Comprehensive documentation is available online in various formats. The usual Linux documentation in man-pages, GNU-info formats is still available.

Installation:

The hardware I used/am using for testing SLP9.2 is as follows:

  • Laptop: IBM R40e, Intel Celeron 2GHz, 256MB, 20GB IDE, Broadcom 5901 network adapter, LCD 1024x768 display, ATI Radeon IGP 340M VGA chip, various USB based peripherals such as Kingston USB-storage, USB-Network adapter, USB-serial adapter etc.

  • Home PC: Duron 1GHz, 256MB, 60GB IDE, CDRW and DVD-ROM drives, Realtek 8139 for ADSL connectivity and DEC Tulip network adapter for internal-LAN, nVidia Riva 32MB VGA adapter, 19" Sony G400 Trinitron 1280x1024 CRT, 256k ADSL unlimited package from SingNet with AzTech DSL900E Turbo ethernet ADSL modem. Peripherals are Epson Perfection 1250 USB scanner, Epson Stylus Photo 915 USB Printer, Nikon CoolPix 3100 Digital camera with USB interface.

  • Shuttle XPC with AMD Athlon64-3200+ MHz, 512MB RAM, 21" Sony Trinitron G500 CRT, nVidia GeForce FX5200 VGA adapter with 64MB VRAM, Seagate SATA 80GB, additional Intel Gigabit Desktop adapter, DVD ROM, HP LaserJet 4050N network printer.

  • IBM Z-Pro Model Workstation: Dual Xeon EM64T 3.6GHz, 4GB RAM, nVidia Quadro FX100 with 128MB, Dual SCSI U320 73GB, DVD-RAM, 21" IBM C220p Monitor @1280x1024

A lot of reviews focus primarily on ease of installation (or lack of it). However I would like to cut short the installation part. The reason being, SLP sports a nice GUI installer with extremely good hardware recognitions and automatic configuration capabilities. Installation, for me, turned out to be clicking mouse buttons and occasionally entering some text, such as passwords. It cannot get any easier than this!

All devices listed above were recognized and configured, including ADSL connections, USB devices etc.

After installation, which took about an hour, a beautiful KDE desktop started up. A small tweak to the KDE setup (using KDE Control Center) restored the defaults I like (Mosfet's Aqua, background images etc.)

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