This review takes us through a tour of what is new in SUSE Linux 9.1. The article goes into the Yast control center as well as both desktop environments, KDE and GNOME also pointing out a few problems or inconviniences.
Suse Linux 9.1 Professional Desktop Review
Submitted by Gsurface 2004-05-21 SuSE, openSUSE 28 Comments
SuSE 9.1 really is a great product. I’ve been using it for the last week, and its been nearly flawless in usage. I’ve been taking notes of all the nice touches, and found some really nice ones:
– YaST has some great tools, especially the profile manager. It makes switching between wired and wireless networks really easy (which I have to do all the time). The profile manager can handle nearly arbitrary configurations, so it can be very powerful. Its even got a thoughtful profile chooser in the bootloader! Overall, YaST is pretty much at the point that even for a power-user like me, not a *single* thing needed to be done via the command line, and I only had to install one external utility (something unheard of for a Windows setup) to get my daily-usage configuration.
– The visual esthetic is pretty consistent. OpenOffice integrates nicely, though it needs to use the KDE file dialogs and the popup menus don’t get themed. The icons are all pretty complete (which is sometimes a problem for KDE), which make things look polished. There are numerous nice touches, like larger icons in the kmenu (one of the few things not configurable by default in KDE). Bootup and shutdown screens are top-notch.
– The software set is well-selected, preserving a very unified KDE environment. There are some weak-spots, but overall, its got a lot of range.
– Hardware detection, as expected, is top-notch. Mechanically, its even better than Windows — I never needed a driver CD. The NVIDIA drivers were installed automatically (Windows doesn’t do this), as were things like the MS core fonts. Even my cheapo wireless WLAN USB dongle worked easily after checking the “Atmel firmware” box in YaST online update.
– The default setup made sense. The KDE defaults are really not very pleasing, but SuSE makes some very good choices (Plastik for Personal, Thin Keramik for Pro). Fonts are correct out-of-box (unlike lots of other distros that ship modified Freetype’s).
There are a few gotchas, however:
– Samba just didn’t like me. Neither at home nor at work. Not really a big deal, though, because after installing the smb4k RPM (they’ve got a SuSE 9.1 version) I was able to browse windows shares easily. Which is more than I can say for XP on my home network…
– There are still a few icon faux-pas here and there. Cervesia has an (ugly) icon by default in Konqueror in the Pro version. There are some ugly KDE games and Qt Designer icons. There are still some non-Crystalized and missing icons.
– Some questionable stability in some apps. XMMS crashed once or twice. The OS itself, however, is rock-solid.
– Some questionable app choices — why XMMS rather than Amarok?
– The SuSE kernel, though its 2.6, occasionally has some weirdness with audio-stutter (on my cheapo integrated soundcard) and app-startup time.
– YaST could be a little more friendly in some places — the printer configuration doesn’t let you browse the SMB network to find a printer
Overall, I really had to grasp to find flaws with the system. It really is a well put-together distribution, and has served me very well for the types of things I’ve been doing with it (development, MS office stuff via cxoffice, internet/email/irc/shoutcast). I can’t wait to see what else SuSE has up their sleeves!
now that is a nice review. It wasn’t very critical more like an SuSe commercial than review but he went into depth on many things.
I agree, SUSE v9.1 is very slick. I think mom will like it too (Lindows right now). I changed the output plugin in XMMS and it seemed to solve the stuttering problem. I’ve been trying to find a decent *out-of-the-box* desktop replacement (hardware support with autoconfiguration). Something I dont’t have to tinker with cause I do that all day on servers. 🙂
I hope Novell / SuSE people are keeping up with all of the suggestions (in such reviews as this one) for future versions, and making whatever adjustments are needed for the next the distribution.
What does this review have more than any of the others?
Its 8 pages…this guy goes over everything leaving very few features unmentioned. nice use of screenshots…
Fonts are correct out-of-box (unlike lots of other distros that ship modified Freetype’s).
What do you mean?
Freetype is a shared library that can handle font rendering in X11. Some distros ship versions of freetype with the TrueType bytecode interpreter turned off. This is now the default setting in the freetype source code, but most distributions make the change and distribute binaries with the interpreter turned on (Debian and several others). This is significant because TrueType fonts at relatively small font sizes (~10pt) that do not use the bytecode interpreter look like crap. Also, some people prefer the look of anti-aliased fonts with the interpreter turned on.
I don’t seem to find a 9.1 version at Sourceforge or elsewhere — are you sure there is one or did you use the 9.0 version for 9.1?
Konqueror stalls for a bit on loading from certain sites including unfortunately some common ones – such as http://www.economist.com/ and http://www.informit.com/. This is not a Konqueror issue but a site/IPV6 issue. CVS has a workaround for it (set envvar KDE_NO_IPV6). Konqueror shows the symptom when it’s the Gateway ads turn at the top of osnews pages.
FC2’s nautilus doesn’t work right so I’d like to try out SUSE 9.1 but I’m not sure where to buy it.
I thought freetype used autohinter now.
SuSe is best
btw i installed SuSe for second time but i can’t find kalarm , even i installed kdepim package.. any1 knows where it is ?
I think it’s time Linux distro’s stopped apologising for multimedia support. Redhat is a multi-million dollar company, and SuSE is part of a multi-million dollar company. These aren’t mom and pop outfits anymore. It’s perfectly reasonable to expect them to pay up for a DeCSS license, either individually or as part of a consortium, and create a closed source freeware DVD player for Linux.
Likewise with codecs, if TurboLinux could license them, I see no reason why SuSE or Redhat couldn’t. Multimedia on Linux is a sore spot and at this stage in the game, it really shouldn’t be.
I bought SuSE 9.1 personal edition, and I love it(Used 9.0 before, before that I was using redhat 9), the only thing wrong with 9.1 personal is that it lacks extra packages..but thats what the professional version is there for, and thats what im getting next time, i believe its worth the extra price.
The author didn’t really do anything except write about Gnome this and Gnome that. The time could have been spent on writing about what really *is* there…
True… I thought the same thing. He can like Gnome the much he likes and tweak his SuSE for Gnome all day long, but that is not what SuSE sold at its core and it is not what the people buying it would want to do. It’s a KDE centric distro, so he kinda missed identifying the object to be review for a good portion. This is not to say that the review was all bad, but with 10 pages, he could have put 5 pages more of actual interest instead of complaining what Gnome can’t do. If it was Gnome centric, it would boot into Gnome in the first place…
> btw i installed SuSe for second time but i can’t find kalarm , even i installed kdepim package.. any1 knows where it is ?
jmp@spark:~> whereis kalarm
have any others distroes portet this??
this can make debian on the desktop.. i dont think of the installer but the control center with gui.
@Adam: Actually, I mean that SuSE ships with the bytecode interpreter disabled by default, just like it should (for legality reasons and quality reasons). The auto-hinter is now very good, and at higher DPIs, and the auto-hinter better preserves glyph shapes doing anti-aliased rendering. Debian, for example, ships a modified Freetype that makes the fonts look like crap, at least on my laptop. I also think they don’t have Bitstream Vera as the default yet, which again degrades quality.
@Anonymous: I didn’t say ksamba, but smb4k. Its a very nice, fast, and *stable*, samba share browsing program. SuSE 9.1 packages are here:
the module that I am most impressed with is the Software Management tools. […] Not only do the modules allow for seamless installation and removal of programs off of the distribution’s media, but also takes care of any software dependencies that need to be resolved.
I’ve heard before that Suse didn’t have any tool that would solve packages dependencies, and that’s why i found Mandrake was better… but the guy is saying Suse has it.
So, it does or it doesn’t? Is it good? Does it have many packages?
Well, I was asking the ksamba/smb4k question (I only found smb4k as part of ksamba previously) and upon installing the ksamba package SuSE automatically told me I would need the samba 302a server package additionally which it then grabbed from the install CD, for example. This, of course, happens upon installing other software as well, lets say MPlayer, etc….
Linux fonts look very good. I just hope in future they could be a bit sharper as in this screenshot.
Why should RH and Novell pony up for DeCSS licenses when Windows ships with zero DVD support as well. I still think Linux is quite fair in this regard. Windows = go to store and purchase DVD playback software or pirate. Linux = go online and download a handful of rpms and install. Why is this so hard?
Hmm, I guess its a matter of preference. In your screenshot, WinXP snaps stems to whole pixel bounderies (basically, 1-pixel thick) which messes up the shape of the font. I prefer Freetype’s slightly fuzzier, but more accurate rendering.
It’s nice to read a review from someone that actually not only goes in depth with a review of software but actually includes nice screen shots to get across their points.
Re: YaST Control Center @Bjorn
Q: “Have any others distros ported this?”
A: Yes, Sun is the first to adopt Yast since it was released as Open Source by Novell. They are incorporating it into their next desktop.
Re: Suse solves dependencies automaticaly? @Victor
Q: “So, it does or it doesn’t? Is it good?”
A: Yes it does solve dependencies issues automatically and actually gives help advice on correcting any errors found.
Q: “Does it have many packages?”
A: 4 CDs worth of software is included with SuSE Linux Professional. To give you an idea of the amount the 32-bit DVD contains both the OS and software which is 3.84 GB. The 64-bit DVD included has a file size of 3.33 GB. That’s a lot to get in a distrobution for such a low price when you consider what other distro developers offer.
Re: Multimedia @teknishn
Q: “Why should RH and Novell pony up for DeCSS licenses when Windows ships with zero DVD support as well?”
A: They shouldn’t have to considering the people bitching are typically those that came from a Windows environment and should be used to this lack of codec support. To run most DVD in Windows required a third party media player software application. So being required to use a third party app to do this in Linux should be no shock. Though if companies such as Linspire are offering DVD playback support legally because they pay codec license fees and include in the purchase then commercial companies such as Novell (SuSE Linux) and RedHat should do the same. They in a sense need to do this if they wish to compete with other distro developers that offer this support legally.
Another stupid forum post. This type of post is now just as annoying as the “OMG where is my DVD playback in Linux” post.
I for one enjoy reading OS reviews on a site called OSNews. What can SuSE 9.1 do for you? It can run your damn computer or server thats what. Why should you choose it? They cover that very well in the review. Its also easy to understand the benefits when you read the other “stupid, useless, and boring reviews”. They clearly describe the advantages of anytime hardware autodetection, the beauty that is Yast, the fact that it runs the 2.6 kernel, just to name a few. Sounds to me like this is another “stupid, useless, boring review” that you didnt bother to read before you posted.
Suse has some kind of automounter that doesn’t work very well and they don’t provide any way to disable it. The configuration program tells me to insert the DVD when it’s already in the drive.
The installation program didn’t work by default. Had to type in a kernel switch to disable ACPI.
Still no usable display settings program after all these years. Seems I’m supposed to come up with some modelines on my own to change the refresh rate. Also, my SyncMaster 957MB wasn’t detected.
No radeon 3D acceleration.
Using KDE, Gnome apps and Firefox uses these huge fonts and not those in the Gnome display settings. Starting the gnome settings daemon makes the KDE fonts wierd instead.
No way would we want a close source dvdplayer and laws stop SuSE from giving dvd support. You can get rpms for dvd suppport in SuSE anyway.