SuSE Linux 8.0 earned positive marks from us last summer for its strong feature set and low occurrence of bugs; will SuSE Linux 8.1 be able to keep up with its older sibling and win the Penguin Shootout? Find out all of that and more at OfB.biz.
SuSE Linux 8.1 Takes OfB’s Challenge
Submitted by Timothy R. Butler 2003-02-08 SuSE, openSUSE 32 Comments
Actually 89 Euros in Spain which to me seems really expensive compared to 99 Euros Xandros. Anyway after being a linux loyalist for years I’m f**** tired of it, oh my god when we will understand that with RMPs we are not going anywhere?
RPM are only great for SuSe and RedHat that offer you Yast and RedHat Networks. As long you don’t have thier suppor say bye bye to an usable OS, sad.
SuSE 8.0 was rock solid and stable. Updated with KDE 3.1 for Gnome 2.0 out of the supplementary dirs on the ftp mirrors it rocks too.
SuSE 8.1 has acted flaky from day one with odd lockups and X crashes that I never saw with 8.0. This one developer and I are trying out 8.1 and I am NOT impressed. This is a office where up to 8.1 coming around I only saw two X lockups for nearly 15 developers on linux boxes.
I agree with this author totally. 8.0 was much more stable. 8.1 is very nice looking but I think I will stick with 8.0 for my office.
So is Suse Desktop Office essentially 8.1 with Crossover Office ? Maybe Office Desktop is more stable than this ?
What I liked about Suse 8.1:
It installed nvidea ti42000 drivers in an online update. I tried installing them under Red Hat 8.0 and there was no way I could ever get them going. Lindows supposedly supports it but I couldn’t get a resolution higher than 1024×768. With Suse it was easy.
2.Support is good. The turnaround is usually just a few hours.
What I didn’t like:
1.I have a dvd reader and a cd recorder. The installer saw both but set the /media/cdrecorder to point to the dvd drive. The support people sent me a fix, but I still have just the DVD-Rom icon on my desktop.
2.After a few start-ups sound won’t work on my system anymore. (maybe it was the updates)
3.Automatic updates take forever (or half an hour, whichever is longer) to go through the ftp check.
4.It’s easier to navigate the red hat menus, and MUCH easier to navigate the Lindows menus (where the names are actually descriptive).
5. Is evolution really that buggy?
I don’t know why I torture myself with Linux. I try one and it’s good, except for a few things. I try another, and it fixes those problems, but adds some more.For all the money (let’s ignore the time) wasted, I could have got myself a good Apple system. Linux has got to be the biggest time waster, money waster and productivity drag on the North American economy. The only good thing is that it keeps a lot of geeks out of the space program. It would have crashed decades ago. And if someone asks “well why don’t you get a Mac?” the answer is “I CANT AFFORD IT NOW!”
Geez, if you use a x86 system it does not mean that you have to use an alternative OS. Yes, for all the talk of linux on the desktop and all that, it is still an alternative OS. What does that mean?
3rdparty hardware support will be sparse next to anything MS or even Apple related.
Don’t even think about games.
Has a few but there are not many.
Do not even think about 3rdparty big name apps. Corel nearly died betting the bank on linux way to early in the game.
Part of the issue is that linux is not full-grown sprung from one group or company. The system has grown organically through the years.
Linux is just the kernel.
GNU utilities are mainly just the utilities.
XFree86 is a group that makes the X server backing for the desktop.
Gnome or KDE groups make your desktop.
A host of 100+ groups that have very little interaction with each other create the pieces of software that makes up linux.
it seems like everytime I use it sends notes to microsoft. I also worry about whether my next upgrade will force me to re-register. I don’t want to use big name apps or games, I just want to programm and play a few DVD’s (which is where the whole chain above started: the DVD stuttered in red hat, after finding no fixes I thought getting a better vid card would do it (everyone said the card worked under linx) , the vid card wouldn’t work under redt hat, retried lindows, then went to suse. Anyway, I’m in CS and I SHOULD learn some form of unix, and boy am I getting some lessons.
Right now I am dual booting Suse 8.1 and windows XP pro. I usually dual boot Mandrake but thought I’d try something different. YaSt is not bad, but so far I really don’t see what it offers over Mandrake. It does not seem to want to play with my soundblaster, I don’t feel like settling their differences. This late in the game something as simple as a generic sound card driver shouldn’t be a problem. Overall the distro is very simmilar to Mandrake, but I like Mandrake better. My Linux partition will probably stagnate till I install the Mandrake 9.1 or ’till I get impatient and try one of the RC’s.
I didn’t see it referenced in the article, or here, but did anyone else have problems with the on line update? It wouldn’t connect to any servers after the install. It was fixed by getting a couple of rpms. It was no big deal to me, just curious.
Things have gotten a lot better but even IBM folks have said linux on desktop is at least 18 months away.
The DVD thing is fun because you have to activate DMA with a couple of options on linux and use ogle (which is also better than most about handling playing of DVDs).
If it is a scsi emulated dvd the device to run hdparm against is usually /dev/hdb not /dev/hdc. SuSE has a DMA graphical tool for setting this.
Has a lot of good hints on this.
Dependency Hell is a real issue and the only real away around is urpmi with Mandrake or apt4rpm Redhat which is very good at resolving dependencies. If you use SuSE currently then you there is supposed to be apt for SuSE as well somewhere. Apt and Synaptic are pretty darn good.
Autopackage is looking for a better way to handle non-distro installations of software. Translation: it does not replace rpm but works as a way to cleanly and consistently install anything else.
I have no idea why the SuSE updater takes so darn long. I have to use SuSE at work but I find after the more annoying postinstall that I like Redhat 8.0 better and look forward to coming home to it.
I agree on the menus. SuSE’s distro menus are just a huge confusing mess. I start off with the Gnome default (I use Gnome) and construct my own menu but I do that when I am stuck on a Win2k for any period of time. I hate the way Windows handles their menus.
Finally what bugs are you hitting with Evolution?
Fire up ftp and go to:
and get 1.2.1 for your distro from there. Get all the rpms in the directory for your distro and install them all en masse from the command line as root. The good old rpm -Uvh *.rpm. Honestly, after I did that I never had anymore trouble from Evolution. Of course, I really did not have trouble with Evolution at all except for that one time I tried to upgrade Evolution from rpms I got from someone’s people.redhat.com directory.
One bit of advice. This goes for most OSes on most systems. Get your box right with the apps you want and get off the upgrade like mad track.
Why replace your kernel every two months unless there is some real vital reason? There is no reason. Especially since if you use Nvidia drivers, ATI proprietary drivers or winmodem drivers like ltmodem you have to upgrade the proprietary drivers along with the kernel.
Get most everything you want from apt and forget about compiling and living on the beta edge. I have compiled all of three programs not related to work on my RH8 box. Mozilla 1.3a with GTK2, XFT against g++296 and Galeon2 compiled against that and finally mplayer with all the quicktime stuff so I could play Sorrenson 3 files.
I work and play in terms of my computer in Linux. I get to mail through Evolution. I instant message with gaim. I surf with Galeon2. I do news with pan. I ftp with gftp. I do samba browsing with LinNeighborhood. I edit spreadsheets with gnumeric and word files with OpenOffice and ppt files with OpenOffice. I edit html with sweb from OpenOffice or usually with Bluefish. I edit other code with Anjuta2. I play music with Rhythmbox though xmms is really good too by the way. I play mpegs with Totem and Quicktime with mplayer. I do my job scheduling through Gnome Crontab.
It might be different for you and OS bigots never figure this out. However, being a Unix sysadmin working with Unix developers I get my work done quicker from linux than the NT/Exceed combo I used at work before we tried out linux.
The most maligned insulted file manager in the linux world Nautilus helps a lot with Nautilus scripts. Being able to use my repository of scripts directly through the file manager is very nice. Highlight 6 files and choose SCP to Host and send them to california. Highlight 8 postscript files and convert them to pdfs. Rightclick on a source code package and then choose my version of Nyquist’s maker script to configure, and make the tarball.
This kind of thing really is nice for me. My developers like KDE and the Cervisia plugin for Konqueror and I use Apotheke for CVS browsing from within the file manager.
BTW, do not labor under the impression that you are learning a lesson in Unix. Linux is a Unix-like OS. A commercial Unix would not have some of the troubles you mentioned and would still have some of the other issues. Be careful drawing too much of a conclusion about Unix in general from the linux experience.
Hi Dave – no I didn’t experience any issues. YOU did offer to update itself before doing any normal updates, did it do that for you? Whatever the case, it did connect just fine.
I don’t remember if it offered, it’s been a little while now. Maybe it’s just me, or something I did.
I tried it a few years ago too (Suse 5), but there were no apps for what I was doing at the time (CAD, NC programming).
I was using ogle in redhat, and tried a few different things (I can’t remember what now) to stop the stuttering, but none worked. I haven’t tried ogle in suse yet; I want to get the sound sorted out first.
I know apt and synaptic are good; I used them in red hat, but I wanted to get my installation stable and working before I started adding any other apps. But you’re right: the red hat updater was much faster. But I found Lindows to the best ever. The ‘true’ linux people seem to have a hate on for it, but for installation of software, it can’t be beat, not even by Windows. It also can use the debian apt-get, but I’ve never tried that.
You may hate the way that Windows handles the menus, but you have to admit that it’s easier to edit and change them than in gnome and KDE. I STILL don’t know how to do that.
What bugs I’ve found in Evolution (or maybe just what bugs me about it):
1. Everytime I restart Linux and go into evolution, it asks for my account password, even though I ask it to save it.
2.Sometimes it does the same even in the same session.
3.When I delete an e-mail, I want it gone. I don’t want to see it stroked through. I want it GONE.
4.When I go to help and pick an item, most of the time galeon starts up and then crashes. If galeon is already up, then it’s fine. But why does it have to be galeon?
I like Gnome in red hat, but so far in suse it just seems more difficult to setup. And I can still use anjuta . But I wish Nautilus was on my KDE menu. I don’t understand why gnome has the KDE menu, and KDE doesn’t have a gnome menu. I may be just a picky asshole, but it ticks me off that Konquerer has no way to set a list view as default. But, until I get this installation working, I’ll stick with the KDE desktop. Gnome looks sharper, Nautilus is better, but the fonts are worse, and KDE is tolerable.
I know linux is not exactly like unix. We do have solaris on the uni net, but I don’t really learn how to administer THAT. Is it worthwhile for me to download solaris and tinker with it? I know I’ld probably have to another box with more standard vid (at least), but a box I can get for less than $500.
YOU always screws up sax2 on my computer… it works perfectly until I update. No big deal considering that I don’t mind editing my config file but hrmm:P After I update it doesn’t put my mouse in the config file. Suse didn’t detect it right in the first place, but at least X starts and the mouse moves (no wheel:P).
KDE has a menu editor. You can find it by right clicking on the menu icon on the taskbar.
How many people here who say apt-get and Lindow’s way of installation (Click ‘N Run) are the ways to go have tried anything like Gentoo’s portage or FreeBSD’s ports system?
I would just die if I had to go back to using anything else, myself. Windows apps have a tendency to lose their INSTALL.LOG files on me lately, too (Windows 98SE, and no I do not like XP on this particular machine).
I think that apt-get is the best way to go for getting a system up and running for most people. I’ve tried the portage system on Gentoo. It’s good. Sorcery is IMHO easier to deal with.
Also Debian has a program in development for something like emerge. It’s called apt-build. I’ve used it and it works well. But it’s got some bugs so I wouldn’t count on it coming out for at least a couple of months.
If you even care to try on the DVD thing look at all the options for DMA not just turning it on. Also, people commonly still get stutter after activating DMA on /dev/hdc when the device for their scsi emulating ide dvd-rom drive is /dev/hdb or something else.
Before Evolution 1.2.x I have seen this happen with the Evolution 1.0.8 and earlier version of Evolution but usually only after the user has had his password reset. After the new password has been accepted, it would still occasionally prompt the user until they exited and came back in where Evolution would prompt the user one more time and then be fine until the password was rejected and reset again.
I thought that outlook and a number of other email programs used a Trash folder but if you do not like or need the weight of Evolution options you can use Balsa or KMail or about 500 other linux based email clients.
Why does Galeon launch on your help? Because Galeon when you first start it prompts you about becoming the default viewer for a number of different things and one of these are the help files and yes you should not choose that.
Considering the lack of plugins and little extra programs for Solaris x86 as opposed to Sparc I would say Solaris x86 is good for a home server or a box to play around and not much else. Not as good for a workstation as linux or even BSD IMO.
Having tried gentoo and OpenBSD’s and FreeBSD’s ports system I’d say apt-get is the way to go for most people. It’s just a pitty that Debian is completely outdated in it’s desktop stuff…
BSD’s ports get messy when upgrading ports, multiple versions, dependencies… You can use portupgrade and manage the thing but that requires some learning, most people don’t want to do that to be able to install software safely.
Gentoo’s portage system seems much better in my opinion, problem is you don’t get much support for packages and most people don’t want to compile all their software and mess with compile time stuff. There also appears to be some breakage sometimes, but I guess that’s because it’s a new distro.
I must say I find it refreshing to see a fresh new start to implement something “ports like”, being written in python is a major plus.
Sorcery is the simplest, most intuitive system I’ve used. It just seems that the distros that use it are still immature or are amateurish. I’m also not sure of it’s capabilities to implement such advanced capabilities as portage being written solely in bash. It is however a very, very clever idea… Wish portage was so intuitive and simple.
I have SuSE 8.1, I like it, I have it and Windows ME dual boot. The updater does take forever & my DVD-rom won’t mount get a strange error like Could not mount device.
The reported error was:
/dev/cdrom: Input/output error
mount: I could not determine the filesystem type, and none was specified tried to fix it, but can’t figure it out, and the odd thing is from YaST2 it read cds fine.
I’ve been using 8.0 for a year, and upgraded to 8.1 last week. I agree with many of the complaints regarding online updates, but it is fixable. When you run update, it first queries the default server list & selects one (eg: http://ftp.leo.org), but there’s also an expert option which allows you to select the FTP mirror closest to you, which doesnt appear in the drop-down list, but can be found at http://www.suse.com/us/private/download/ftp/int_mirrors.html and entered manually.
I like the fact that I can now configure wireless settings directly through Yast2, but whenever I login to KDE, I have to click on the battery icon in the systray & enable PCMCIA, which is kind of stupid, coz it requires the root password each time you do that. Does anyone know how to enable PCMCIA by default without having to go through this routine every time I login?
I like SuSE 8.1 it is my default OS, My only question is if you guys that are haveing problems are running Professional or Personal. I only ask because Im running Professional and I dont have any problems with anything, setup went on without a hitch and operation has been seamless.
>> It’s just a pitty that Debian is completely outdated in it’s desktop stuff… <<
Your probably thinking about Woody or Sarge. If you use the Sid branch then your pretty much up to date. It’s not Gentoos bleeding edge stuff, but faily up to date. For example I’m using GNOME 2.2 on my debian system. That’s not completely outdated. Though I haven’t been able to get KDE 3.1 yet strait from the debian servers, but you can go to KDE’s site and get the line to put into your sources.list file to get acess to a working KDE3.1. Sid is also using the lastest version of xfce That’s pretty up to date in the desktop stuff.
OK, I am a LONG time SuSE user and before I share the fix for resolving the IDE madness with SuSE 8.1 I would like to weigh in on the debate.
SuSE is not always the most responsive to user issues and at times they seem a bit out of touch with the needs of those users. However, they make a great distro. They take great care in making a user friendly desktop (recent neglect to the Gnome environment a side) and they bundle some 2000+ packages (with the Pro distro).That gives people who like to “tinker” LOTS to play with and spares those with dial up connections from having to download a myriad of packages.
I must say that 8.0 (suprisingly, as it was an X.0 version) ran great, whereas 8.1 has always had little (and sometimes pressing) issues. Yet, I have faithfully stuck with it for several reasons, It’s RAID support is much better, It looks worlds better and perhaps more importantly, I don’t give up easily!
I would expect that, if anything, the difficult transition from SuSE 8.0 to 8.1, as well as the outstanding successes of Lycoris and Lindows shows they need to put even more effort into creating a really polished desktop viable version (and soon).
As regards the IDE issue, it shows up if you have more than one CD type devise. In my case, I have a CD-RW and a DVD-ROM. I wrote this HOWTO using a format similar to the one used on the SuSE help Web site, although it is not a SuSE fix. I have tried it multiple times, as I have multiple boxes. However, you may prefer to recompile the kernel (my personal preference). If you are unsure on which options to select feel free to write me. Compiling the kernel is much easier than one would think, so don’t fret.
So, here’s the HOWTO. Ten steps to better IDE devices with SuSE 8.1…
SuSE 8.1 CD-ROM/DVD-ROM SCSI Emulation Fix
Your computer is equipped with a CDRW drive and one or several “ordinary” CD drives. After installing SuSE Linux 8.1, one or more of the CD drives cannot be mounted.
Some modules are missing from the initrd.
From SuSE Linux 8.1 on, the CD drive support is no longer compiled and kept in the kernel, but implemented by way of modules (cdrom and ide-cd). As opposed to the module ide-scsi, those modules (cdrom and ide-cd) are not included in the Initrd. That is why the SCSI emulation reaches all drives and not only those listed in the kernel parameter hdX=ide-scsi.
1.Open the YaST Sysconfig Editor. YaST2 -> System -> Editor for /etc/sysconfig. Select Base-Administration -> Common-Basics -> initrd_modules.
2.Insert the modules cdrom and ide-cd after the root=/dev/hdaX listing.
Be careful not to remove any of the modules listed, since they are necessary for booting.
3.Edit the /boot/grub/menu.lst file, making the following additions in this order:
max scsi luns=1 hdb=ide-scsi hdc=ide-scsi (in the linux kernel line, after the root=/dev/hdaX entry).
4.Now, execute the mk_initrd command as root. To do this open a terminal program like konsole or xterm and log in as root with the command su -. Then enter the command mk_initrd. If your boot manager is LILO, reinstall it with the command lilo -v. As GRUB is the standard boot loader from SuSE Linux 8.1 on, this will not apply for most. This will allow all devices to be emulated as SCSI.
5.Reboot the system for changes to take effect.
6.Now determine the SCSI device numbers assigned to your physical IDE devices using the cdrecord -scanbus command. The command output will give you the numbers needed to link your newly emulated SCSI devices.
EXAMPLE: If there is a 0) before your DVD device, then your DVD device should be linked to SCSI device 0. Hence, the command you would use is ln -sf /dev/sr0 /dev/dvd. If it was your CD-ROM instead of your DVD-ROM you would use ln -sf /dev/sr0 /dev/cdrom.
If your CD writer follows after a 1), then the command will be ln -sf /dev/sr1 /dev/cdrecorder.
The combination of sr0 and sr1 and the devices cdrom, dvd and cdrecorder depends on the numbers listed in the line from the cdrecord -scanbus output.
7.Using the information obtained from the cdrecord -scanbus command (see step #3) point all devices (dvd, cdrecorder and cdrom) to their respective scsi device.
Example: ln -sf /dev/sr0 /dev/dvd links the dvd to the scsi device sr0.
8.Type hwscan –list as root. Note all keys for each CD device. There will likely be multiple entries for any given CD device. Delete each of the noted CD device entries in the var/lib/hardware/unique-keys directory.
NOTE: Deleting the unique-key CD device entries can easily be done in Konqueror as root. To do so, log in as root, follow the hwscan –list portion of this step from a konsole session.
Then open Konqueror, delete any of the unique-key files associated with a CD device (right click -> delete).
9.Open a console session and type the hwscan –cdrom command to populate the newly added (and correct) unique-key CD device entries.
10.Reboot your system and you should have two working devices with no errors at boot up.
> I like SuSE 8.1 it is my default OS, My only question is if >you guys that are haveing problems are running Professional >or Personal. I only ask because Im running Professional and I >dont have any problems with anything, setup went on without a >hitch and operation has been seamless.
>> Your probably thinking about Woody or Sarge. If you use the Sid branch then your pretty much up to date.
Sid is the unstable branch… Regular users don’t want and shouldn’t have to run that! The stable branch last time I checked was running with KDE 2.2. This from what I know is not exclusive to KDE, Debian tends to lag a lot to upgrade software in the stable branch.
In fact, I’m even more surprised that you tell me I might be thinking about Sarge… The testing branch is also severely outdated?
Robert, you might want to send that in to suse support. Their help file only had about half that.
Might I suggest some edits?
a) In your section 3, clarify for the very, very young that hda would be the first hard drive, hdb would be either your next hard drive or cd drive or dvd drive, and hdc (and so on…)
b) You might add a section 11 to the effect that one can add a device or drive icon to the desktop by simply right-clicking (is that a legitimate verb?) the mouse,following the menus, and assigning the devices. (that’s something I learned just a few minutes ago)
And thank you. That was VERY helpful.
>>Sid is the unstable branch… Regular users don’t want and shouldn’t have to run that!<<
Just because they labeled it the unstable branch doesn’t mean that all of the software is unstable. Infact most of the software is stable. I have two systems running sid and I haven’t had much trouble.
>>The stable branch last time I checked was running with KDE 2.2. This from what I know is not exclusive to KDE<<
You don’t have to always download strait from debian’s servers. A quick edit of the /etc/apt/sources.list file and your on your way to having KDE3.1 on your system in woody, sarge, or sid.
deb http://download.kde.org/stable/3.1/Debian stable main
>>Debian tends to lag a lot to upgrade software in the stable branch.<<
To ensure that the packages are stable as possible. It usually updates like those CD distros because the updates come all at once from the frozen branch(exception of security patches).
>>In fact, I’m even more surprised that you tell me I might be thinking about Sarge…<<
The only place I goofed up on my post. Sarge is pretty moderate. Most of the time the packages will take a couple of weeks to go from sid to sarge.
>>The testing branch is also severely outdated?<<
Here is the link to the SuSE HOWTO. If you follow these steps, your CDrom and DVD will work fine.
Regarding the cdrom/dvd issues. This was reported very early on with 8.1 and has been documented in the support database since October, 2002.
You should always check the database first for issues with your SuSE distro. Things are almost always documented there will easy fixes listed.
A quick search thru the database could have solved your problem a long time ago.
From SuSE Linux 8.1 on, the CD drive support is no longer compiled and kept in the kernel, why?
You are in deed correct, SuSE had long posted a “fix” for this issue on their support database. However, I (and many other people) tried the fix on the knowlege database and in many cases it did not help or was only a partial fix.
After scanning the SuSE user group for some time, I found many who, like me found the fix inadequate. I decided to work on a more thourouh fix. Personally, I did not like the SuSE support database fix. I thought it was horrible and could not believe that it was their answer to such a major problem.
I should have mentioned that the fix did not work well for me. If you have the same problem try the HOWTO and see if it is any better.