Saturday, October 06, 2007

openSUSE 10.3: First Look

Please bear in mind that this is not a review; it is just a few initial observations after installing openSUSE 10.3 and using it for an hour or so. I'm not a journalist, so even after using it for a week I wouldn't be able to write a well balanced review of openSUSE 10.3. And I'm biased, because I've been using SUSE for at least seven years.

I downloaded the openSUSE 10.3 yesterday and upgraded my laptop from 10.2 in the evening. The upgrade went reasonably smoothly, with just the usual problems: the wireless network couldn't be connected during installation so it couldn't find any online repositories, so I ended up telling it to remove quite a few packages which it couldn't upgrade, and after the installation it had got my hard drives the wrong way round in grub's menu.list - but that's my fault for booting from an external USB drive, which confuses things as the drives do get renumbered on boot.

After installing, everything still worked just as it did before, which was great. They've even put the intel graphics card hack into the boot scripts now so I don't have to have it in boot.local. I switched the graphics driver from i810 to the new intel one, and the wireless driver from ipw3945 to iwl3945, and now my wireless connection comes up reliably. I used to have to connect to a neighbour's unsecured network before it would allow me to connect to my secured one.

Upon trying to play an mp3 file, a message popped up prompting me to install the mp3 codecs, so I followed the instructions, and it gave me a nice wizard which allowed me to choose a whole load of codecs and other 'restricted' stuff. It then proceeded to download it all, complain that all the files on the DVD were corrupt (thought they weren't - they installed fine later), installed the stuff which had worked, and I had mp3 playability. It was much easier than before, except for the spurious corruption messages.

The package management seems to have been overhauled considerably, but it still has the problem of not giving much feedback as to what is going on: instead of showing an overall progress bar and then working its way through all the sub tasks, it'll show a progress bar for one task, and when that has finished it'll show another progress bar. You have no way of knowing whether you have a minute left to wait or three hours. Also, if you move the dialog to the corner of the screen, when the next progress bar appears it'll be back in the default position, which is really annoying. I imagine I'll probably continue using Smart because it is so, well, smart.

The boot and login graphics are back to green, which I like because it means my computer looks different from most. And the graphics are much sharper and more professional-looking, in my mind at least. Especially the welcome graphic when you boot from DVD. I have switched my desktop wallpaper back to the openSUSE 10.1 one though, as I prefer a blue wallpaper to a green one. The icons in YaST have all changed - they don't look better though - they're all grey and nondescript.

I'd like to keep playing with openSUSE 10.3 today, but I have to go to the Grand Designs Live show now. Oh, what a hardship!

1 comment:

Pradeep said...

Could you tell me how you replaced ipw3945 drivers with iwl3945. I'm a newbie to linux. Thanks for your help