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SuSE 8.1 illustrates MS' fear

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UnseenMenace

UnseenModerator
Joined
Apr 23, 2001
Anyone wondering why MS execs Steve Ballmer and Brian Valentine are so bent out of shape about Linux should check out SuSE's most recent distro, 8.1, for insight. For a desktop PC or small-biz network it's already miles ahead of Win98-SE and ME and closing fast on XP for ease of installation and use by first-timers.

The user experience is so close to XP now that one can expect it to surpass it in the next edition or the one following. Now add to that Linux's resistance to viruses, the comparative speed with which open-source security bugs get fixed, the wealth of free applications included, and the GPL enlightenment that allows you to install it on as many machines as you please and upgrade it free of charge on your own, and you can see why MS is feeling the heat around the corner and not taking it terribly well.

What's new
Most of the changes between 8.0 and 8.1 are refinements. Package installation, whether during the initial system build or later tinkering, now includes detailed information about packages, dependencies and conflicts with pop-up dialogs offering alternatives for resolution. It's fast, logical, and easy for a new user to understand. In a recent OSnews review, author Eugenia Loli-Queru said she found the package manager a 'monstrosity' but personally I think it's the best one going. The installation is not a linear process, but instead there's a tree menu from which users can choose which bits of the installation they wish to customize and which they prefer to leave to the SuSE defaults.

Initial package selection during the system build can be very time consuming with the pro edition; just about every package you might ever wish to install is available. For a seasoned Tuxer who knows what they want, choosing 'detailed package selection' and going through the tree should take only 20 minutes or so, but for a newbie it can be overwhelming. There is also a very handy package search feature which makes it easy for seasoned users to find the packages they like.

However, a new user can comfortably choose the default system because adding needed or desired packages later is quite easy with the YaST2 GUI control interface. Again, it offers the same simplified conflict and dependency information and search features one gets with the initial setup. This item will make the distro easy for Windows and Mac users to configure and administer; you can accomplish almost everything without recourse to the shell. In other words, you need to know as much about Unix to run SuSE 8.1 as you need to know about DOS and Basic to run Win-XP.

Purists may balk, but I think it's a significant and welcome step towards bringing Linux into the mainstream, where it very much belongs. Of course, if you prefer to work from the shell and build your apps from source, there's nothing in the SuSE setup that makes this difficult. SuSE remains remarkably accessible to newbies and yet power-user friendly. It's still 100% Linux.

Hardware detection during the installation is every bit as good as Win-XP. As with XP, the hardware drivers supplied are functional but may not be as good or as up-to-date as the ones the manufacturer supplies, so it's always a good idea to visit the maker's Web site and install the latest ones when you get around to it.

The NIC detection and networking setup went off without a hitch. My ISP requires PPPoE for my DSL connection, and the supplied Roaring Penguin RP-PPPoE driver which I installed during the system build worked flawlessly. Previously I'd had to install the RP package again manually to make it work properly, but this time SuSE has got it sorted. Getting my machine on-line was as easy and trouble-free as it is with XP. There's no 'wizard' but the basic networking setup in YaST is simple and intuitive, yet it allows for advanced tinkering.

SuSE is now including the hsflinmodem driver for victims with Conexant WinModems (software modems). I've used this driver on my laptop and it works like a charm, but you do have to select it for yourself during installation. There are several other WinModem drivers as well, though I've had no occasion to try them.

Network security is easy with SuSE Firewall2, which defaults to a nice, tight configuration for iptables easily set up in YaST. In the 'Security and Users' section of YaST is a simple configuration utility to tighten up file permissions. Root and user passwords can be MD5 encrypted for additional security.

You also get Mozilla 1.1, which gave me some trouble with fonts in KDE. This might be attributable to the supplied SuSE RPM, as I recall installing 1.1 from a binary package on an older system and having no such problem. In any case I downloaded and installed 1.2b from Mozilla.org and that solved the difficulty.

Multimedia support is getting better with each successive distro. I use a SoundBlaster Live card which needs the emu10k1 driver which can be loaded as a module or compiled into the kernel. It works well enough, though there are no bass and treble controls. There are plenty of audio and video codecs, a plethora of players, mixers, grabbers and burners, and numerous audio and video editing utilities.

There is now support for the Promise controller, a fact which made my day as I've had a Promise ATA 133 card for some time and previously no chance to play with it. When I hooked up a drive with an existing Win-XP image on it, the Windows image became permanently un-bootable, even after returning it to the mobo's built-in controller where it had resided happily for weeks. Linux simply wouldn't boot, but with no detrimental effects. The trick is simply to pass the parameter ide=reverse at boot time; this corrects the drive detection difficulty which had previously made the Promise controller a hassle. The controller does its job all right; the system became noticeably more lively, and hdparm reported the following (to me quite impressive) benchmark results:
Timing buffer-cache reads: 128 MB in 0.25 seconds = 512.00 MB/sec
Timing buffered disk reads: 64 MB in 1.62 seconds = 39.51 MB/sec

This was on a Maxtor 40GB drive with ATA 133 support. Your mileage may vary. I found also that the kernel support for the Promise controller makes it unnecessary to tinker with hdparm options and place them in /etc/init.d/boot.local. I tried numerous combinations but was unable to make any significant improvement in the benchmark results. (Note that it's important to run hdparm -Tt /dev/hd* several times after each change to weed out anomalies.)

Headaches
For all the progress in SuSE 8.1 there are some hassles, most of them minor and easy to fix. Nvidia cards are still a trial owing to Nvidia's reluctance to permit Linux packagers to distribute their drivers. But the SaX2 X Window configuration utility has been tweaked nicely since 8.0 and is getting along with Nvidia better than ever, so once you download and install the real drivers from the Nvidia Web site you should have no problem. I strongly recommend not opting for 3D support during the system installation. This will make it much easier to configure the video card later.

I ran into one glitch with SaX2; I had downloaded the Nvidia drivers and installed them before running SuSE on-line update. When I started SaX to configure my video system, it stumbled on the fact that I hadn't downloaded and installed the 'real' drivers via SuSE update (i.e., some helpful engineer making things a bit more idiot-proof than necessary). So it's best to run the on-line update first, then install the latest drivers from the Nvidia Web site, then check your XF86Config file, then re-boot, and then finally configure X with SaX.

But there was another glitch. The on-line update feature installed the Nvidia RPMs all right, but failed to configure etc/X11/XF86Config properly, leaving the statement, Driver "nv" in place of Driver "nvidia", which made it impossible to start X after the required re-boot. I found this out the hard way and had to run vi from the console and correct it, which was no problem; but for a newbie this would be a major difficulty. It needs to be sorted out immediately.

Finally, I've always found that the RPMs Nvidia supplies don't put all the files in all the right places. I strongly recommend using the binary tarballs for the Nvidia kernel and GLX driver instead. It's incredibly easy; you just unpack them wherever you please, bust out a root shell and run make from the top level directories. It's actually easier and faster than RPM, and even better, it always works. Just make sure that the statements Load "glx" and Driver "nvidia" appear in etc/X11/XF86Config under Section "Module" and Section "Device" respectively before you re-boot (or make sure you know how to use emacs or vi, and make sure you know the path to your XF86Config file -- different distros put it in different places.)

The free OpenOffice.org 1.0.1 is now included in place of StarOffice. It's a full office suite with excellent import and export filters, which I use exclusively. People who follow my Linux coverage are probably sick of hearing me complain about RPM, but here again it let me down. The RPM which was installed during the system build seemed to unpack properly, but whenever I attempted to open a Word document OO invariably crashed and shut down. However, when I downloaded the tarball from openoffice.org and installed it (same version), everything worked as it should.

There is a stuff-up with the clipboard in KDE. Whether this is due to SuSE's tinkering or KDE's carelessness I don't know, but whenever you highlight a URL the clipboard brings up a little menu offering to open it in the browser of your choice. I've always found it irritating but at least it always worked properly. But now, when you select a URL the thing copies it wrong, so that "http://theregister.co.uk" is mangled as "openURL(http://theregister.co.uk, new-window)" in the browser's address field, which of course puts a stop to all the fun.

SuSE has severed its long-standing relationship with LILO and gone to GRUB as its default bootloader. I've never used GRUB before and I have little to say about it, except that it appears to work as it should. It has the advantage of allowing the machine's owner to set a boot password which can be MD5 encrypted. YaST still makes it easy to configure the boot parameters and I personally haven't noticed any problems, or vast improvements. However, when booting a second, physical HDD SuSE still doesn't configure the bootloader properly and requires the user to correct it manually.

Conclusions
For me it feels odd to review a SuSE distro without recommending it, but this time I'm going to pass. 8.1 is a significant evolutionary step towards a mainstream Linux desktop. It shows where SuSE is going with the desktop PC (and the small-biz server and work station), and it shows how quickly the company is moving. That's impressive, all right. Fundamentally, SuSE Linux is an XP killer, but it needs buffing. All the major pieces are in place to make migrating from Windows a pleasant surprise, but there are too many little rough spots to make a strong recommendation. I think current SuSE users should stick with 8.0 for now; and people looking to get rehabilitated from the Windows licensing and upgrade crack addiction and seeking manumission from Microsoft's abusive EULAs might wait for 8.2 or 8.3, when most of the little irritants mentioned above will have been polished smooth. ®

SOURCE :-The Register

Interested ???
 
Last edited:

funnyperson1

Senior Member
Joined
Jun 16, 2001
yeah, i was impressed with SuSE Live Eval 8.0....and Redhat 8.0 is a BEAUTIFUL distro....great install about 17 mins with a crappy 32x cdrom(sandra said it performs like a 8X lol)....the GUI is pretty and professional, and very easy to use
 

asj

Member
Joined
Sep 6, 2001
Location
Scotland
I still use suse 7.3!!! But you can get wcpuid for linux!!!!! More and more programs are now being changed so linux can run them!!!! Great for us but not for M$!!!! But I also use Xp cos I play alot of games!!!!! But I must admit it is easy to insall linux!! And you get way more stuff!!!! And its cheaper! Oh thats right its FREE!!!!
 

baqai

Member
Joined
Sep 30, 2002
Location
Karachi, Pakistan
i am thinking about installing linux for the first time on my computer is there any guide available for a newbie (idiot also) which guides me step by step?? and also one of the main reason i have always avoided linux is coz there are so many versions and this thingie "SHELLS" which one to go for???
 
OP
UnseenMenace

UnseenMenace

UnseenModerator
Joined
Apr 23, 2001
Penguin4x4 said:
Just goto www.suse.com , find a downloard mirror, and dl the ISO files. :)

SuSE does not have full ISO files available for download, the ISO files are for the Live Evaulation.. The only way you can get SuSE without buying it is by doing a network install details of which are on the SuSE site
 
OP
UnseenMenace

UnseenMenace

UnseenModerator
Joined
Apr 23, 2001
Ebola said:
suse 8.0 was crap. i wonder if they finally got back on the ball with this one.

I went to the Linux Expo in the UK and saw SuSE 8.1 and I must say that I thought it looked pretty good, however it did not seem a major improvement over my distro of choice which is currently SuSE 8.0.
I am curious as to why you consider SuSE 8.0 to not be good as I can not help but be impressed with the quality of features available with the SuSE 8.0 release, it seemed well thought out and put togeather, the help files and support are exceptional and contact with SuSE has from my experience been answered quickly and in a manner which I can understand. From a linux newbie's point of view I hold SuSE 8.0 well above Mandrake 8 and Redhat 7
 
OP
UnseenMenace

UnseenMenace

UnseenModerator
Joined
Apr 23, 2001
baqai said:
i am thinking about installing linux for the first time on my computer is there any guide available for a newbie (idiot also) which guides me step by step?? and also one of the main reason i have always avoided linux is coz there are so many versions and this thingie "SHELLS" which one to go for???

There is undoubtably no step by step guide to GNU/Linux as it can be all things to all men.. it can be a server, a router a desktop and much more.
While the learning curve of Linux is a little difficault it is an enjoyable one if you choose the correct path.
I would almost certainly suggest buying a retail boxed distro as this helped me a great deal... I had previously downloaded Redhat and Mandrake from the web but found these a little clumbersome and a little confusing.. I eventually purchased a retail box of SuSE 8.0 which is an exceptionally well laid out and uncomplicated distro..it installed a breeze and detected hardware which other distro's had failed to detect, the online help files and manuals which come with the retail product have assisted greatly with my knowledge and SuSE themselves have assisted me when needed.
Perhaps there are other distro's which have better features and more of them but my purpose at this time is to learn and SuSE supports this while giving me a fully working and stable system
 

Penguin4x4

Are you my Daddy?
Joined
May 28, 2002
Location
Sector 7G
UnseenMenace said:


SuSE does not have full ISO files available for download, the ISO files are for the Live Evaulation.. The only way you can get SuSE without buying it is by doing a network install details of which are on the SuSE site

Dang. Well, try Mandrake then, :D:D:D:D:D
 

Ebola

Senior Toilet Scrubber
Joined
Jan 16, 2001
Location
Rosemount, MN
unseen, I had a bad install. suse just didnt like my hardware. some of my friends had the same experience. I'm sure it worked better for others.

I think they should have done more kde 3 testing before they released it.
 

Johnny Knoxville

Disabled
Joined
May 29, 2002
UnseenMenace said:


SuSE does not have full ISO files available for download, the ISO files are for the Live Evaulation.. The only way you can get SuSE without buying it is by doing a network install details of which are on the SuSE site

or you can get the source files and compile them and have SUSE free.

IMO, Linux will never catch up with Microsoft, the problem with Linux distro's at the moment is that it's still a ***** to install programs (with all that dependency mambo jambo) unlike in windows where you double click and that's the end of it. Also hardware support could be far better, and there are far better programs available for windows than linux.
 
OP
UnseenMenace

UnseenMenace

UnseenModerator
Joined
Apr 23, 2001
Johnny Knoxville said:
IMO, Linux will never catch up with Microsoft, the problem with Linux distro's at the moment is that it's still a ***** to install programs (with all that dependency mambo jambo) unlike in windows where you double click and that's the end of it. Also hardware support could be far better, and there are far better programs available for windows than linux.

I do not think that it is fair to compare Linux and Microsoft as they are toattly different systems built with a different idea in mind and both have much to offer a certain type of user however it is worth considering that Linux has made larger inroads of late into the traditional Microsoft market than Microsoft has into the traditional Linux market.
Some software is just as easy to install onto Linux as MS's operating systems OpenOffice for example and both have problems with dependencies, if you overwrite a required system file with a non-compatible or out of date version in Windows some applications no longer work.
The internet is educating people and simply speaking people are fed up with paying out more than their complete computer system costs to put an unstable, bug ridden, security flawed Windows and MS Office on their systems. Not to mention a lot of small companies find that the new licencing and product activation makes the products a even more undesirable and as such are looking elsewhere.
Linux is comming of age, its not their yet but it is fast approaching mainstream desktop.. at this time imho the biggest thing holding Linux back is the lack of gaming support and hardware designed to support it.
 

Penguin4x4

Are you my Daddy?
Joined
May 28, 2002
Location
Sector 7G
UnseenMenace said:

Linux is comming of age, its not their yet but it is fast approaching mainstream desktop.. at this time imho the biggest thing holding Linux back is the lack of gaming support and hardware designed to support it.


IMHO as well. Took me less than a half hour to install Mandrake 8.2(Settings and all) on my Gateway, whereas XP Pro took about an hour. Then drivers had to be installed, the setup be reconfigured, etc. Anyone found a review of Mandrake 9.0 yet?? I need to see some comparo's of it versus the new RedHat and SuSE. :):burn:
 

Daemonfly

Member
Joined
Aug 18, 2002
Location
NW Pa
I installed the new Mandrake as well without a hitch, and it's worked perfectly so far. Install program was great, and easy to configure everything (even under custom installation). Now I just have to learn how to work with everything. (Trying to get MYSQL & PHP up & running with Apache, etc... and no previous knowledge). Well, there was one hitch, It said you had to be admin to get to a lot of the settings, but it DIDN'T tell you what user name to use ("root") - something that might give NEW linux users a problem.

The only big problem was UT2003(linux ver.) NOT working with a ATI 8500 card under linux :(