I’ve been using openSUSE (the distro formerly known as SUSE Linux) for about 2½ years, and all this time I’ve heard a few complaints repeated again and again:
- “I don’t want to download so much”
- “boot is slow”
- “package management start-up is slow”
- “adding 3rd party repos and installing multimedia playback packages is too much work”
- “#¤%”#&!” (this last complaint started with 10.1, it’s difficult to decipher but I believe it means something like “I’m not entirely convinced that this Libzypp/YaST/ZENworks-integration is a very good idea”).
After listening to those same complaints for a long period of time, it’s amazing that they are all fixed in one single release cycle.
- For openSUSE 10.3 you only need 1 (one!) CD for a full desktop installation (DVD is still available).
- Boot time is vastly improved.
- YaST Software Management/zypper are much faster and lighter on memory due to libzypp rewrite.
- A new YaST-module enables the user to add community software repositories including Packman with a couple of clicks, One-Click-Installer YaST-module also holds great possibilities for example for easy codec installation, and finally Amarok will play mp3 out of the box of a DVD installation with fluendo codecs.
- As for the huge amount of complaints related to the ZENworks Management Daemon (ZMD) and friends (zen-updater, rug), the best possible decision was made, it was dropped completely from openSUSE! It should have never been there in the first place.
With the most common grievances out of the way, I expect that a lot more people will appreciate the traditional virtues of openSUSE. Great KDE which is stable, polished and enhanced (Kickoff menu, sysinfo, kerry, etc.) by the openSUSE star ensemble of KDE developers and maintainers. The 80+ easy to use yet very powerful YaST modules allowing the user to easily configure just about anything on the system with GUI or ncurses. A good balance between up to date packages and good stability is also a characteristic trait of openSUSE.
Apart from fixing the major complaints mentioned above and maintaining the traditional SUSE-virtues, this release also has a ton of other exciting new stuff.
KDE4 preview - easily updateable to (at least) weekly svn-snapshots and of course to the final version due in December. Ntfs-3g is installed and used by default enabling write access to NTFS-partitions. New YaST-modules for ftp-server, sshd and squid. KIWI to create your own ISOs for USB, live-CD etc. And one of my favourite new features, the beautiful green artwork - although lacking in Geekos. Within a reasonable timeframe installable live-CDs will be released too - the installer is not yet stable enough. Of course openSUSE 10.3 is completely translated to Danish and Martin, Ib, Jan and I are proud of the work we’ve done.
When the openSUSE project was announced about 2 years ago there was talk about a “Lizard blizzard”, after a couple of years of under-achieving for various reasons I think the lizard blizzard is coming, be prepared!