openSUSE 11.2 M8: What a Fine Lookin' Lizard

openSUSE 11.2 M8: What a Fine Lookin' Lizard

Summary: Ubuntu's Karmic Koala isn't the only hot Linux beta floating around. On October 1, the openSUSE project released Milestone 8 of openSUSE 11.

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TOPICS: Open Source
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Ubuntu's Karmic Koala isn't the only hot Linux beta floating around. On October 1, the openSUSE project released Milestone 8 of openSUSE 11.2, which is slated for general release in November, just in time for the holiday season. Milestone 8 will precede two release candidates to be also released in October, but contains the final aesthetic and branding bits for the final version.

Tech Broiler openSUSE 11.2 M8 Video Tour

The openSUSE 11.2 installer, which is essentially the same polished installer from the previous version and needed very little improvement, now installs the KDE 4.3 UI as the default user choice, although GNOME 2.28 can also be selected.

In my last reviews of openSUSE 11.1 and openSUSE 11, I had a number of stability issues with KDE 4.0 and 4.2 which led me to stick with the GNOME interface. However, there had been numerous reports on various mailing lists and community discussion forums that KDE 4.3 is now the fully "baked" version of 4.x, so I wanted to give KDE 4 a go again. I'm glad I did.

Click on the "Read the rest of this entry" link below for more.

As with Ubuntu's Karmic Koala, openSUSE 11.2 will use the very latest 2.6.31 kernel and use the new ext4 file system. End-users will have the option of downloading openSUSE as either a DVD which contains both the KDE and GNOME as well as XFCE UIs, or as as 2 separate flavors of Live CD, each with a KDE and GNOME version which is similar to the way Ubuntu is distributed, as Ubuntu, Kubuntu and Xubuntu.

Gallery: openSUSE 11.2 Milestone 8

As with any openSUSE release 11.2 will be jam-packed with all of the latest Open Source software, including the superior Go-Oo.org build of OpenOffice.org. But clearly I think this is the first distribution that will really make the desktop Linux naysayers, especially the Mac crowd, go "Wow!"

That "Wow" factor is KDE 4.3. KDE 4.x is a radical departure from the 3.5.x series, which has always been considered more Windows XP-like in its general UI model, although it has featured a great deal of object-oriented technology that Windows didn't have and still lacks. While GNOME 2.x is stable and certainly very usable, it never had the sex appeal of something like OS X or even Windows 7, and from a raw technology standpoint does not have the object-oriented features of modern UI's such as Mac OS X or KDE.

Miguel de Icaza's Mono software development framework and C# implementation (and Bonobo prior to Mono, which had good ideas but failed to catch on due to its unwieldiness) has been moving to change that, but there has been some resistance to bringing a full-blown object-oriented development model into mainstream Linux desktops.

openSUSE's implementation of KDE 4.3 finally gives the Open Source and Linux community something to brag about from a UI technology perspective, and in many ways I feel it is superior to both Windows 7, in both the underpinning technology and from a usability standpoint. It is also at least at parity in terms of object oriented technology with Mac OS X, and Qt 4's cross-platform nature may actually give KDE an edge over Mac's Cocoa. KDE 4.3 is pretty and functional, proving that Open Source advocates that choose a Linux OS for their desktop can have their cake, eat it as well as flaunt it.

Like Windows 7 and Mac OS X, openSUSE's KDE 4.3 implementation supports floatable "widgets" that are mini-apps that float about the desktop, such as resource utilization monitors and weather forecast applets, just to name a few. The system includes an integrated web browser/file system browser, Konqueror, which incorporates the very same KHTML/Webkit page rendering engine that is used in Mac OS X's Safari browser and for the iPhone. openSUSE 11.2 also provides Firefox 3.5.3 for those die-hards that would rather use Mozilla's software and browser plugins.

KDE 4.x also has a dedicated file manager utility, Dolphin, which is similar to a Norton Commander type of utility and is roughly analogous to GNOME's Nautilus UI, whereas Konqueror is more similar in function and look and feel to Windows 7's "Explorer". Eventually I'd like to see Dolphin and Konqueror moved into one single seamless UI because I feel that regular end users might find some confusion in their overlapping functionality.

While openSUSE 11.2 is still in beta and not even release candidate stages, I will say that despite my enthusiasm for the KDE 4.3 implementation, which is indeed looking very nice, I still notice that openSUSE's default security settings are set so that SMB networking traffic is blocked. I also had to add SAMBA 3.4 manually, but this may not be reflective of the final product. These were issues I had with both openSUSE 11 and 11.1, and I really think the project should consider turning on SAMBA and letting the SMB protocol through the firewall by default, just as Ubuntu does.

I haven't used openSUSE as my main Linux desktop OS for a while -- that honor, at least for the last few years, has gone to Ubuntu. But could openSUSE 11.2 and it's sexy KDE 4.3 implementation bring me back? Perhaps, perhaps.

Have you been playing with openSUSE 11.2 M8 or KDE 4.3? Talk Back and Let Me Know.

Topic: Open Source

About

Jason Perlow, Sr. Technology Editor at ZDNet, is a technologist with over two decades of experience integrating large heterogeneous multi-vendor computing environments in Fortune 500 companies. Jason is currently a Partner Technology Strategist with Microsoft Corp. His expressed views do not necessarily represent those of his employer.

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143 comments
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  • Sorry. Ubuntu 9.10 is simply put together better. Parts is Parts.

    nt
    D T Schmitz
    • im looking forward to 9.10 this october (nt)

      (nt)
      privatejarhead
    • Unless you prefer KDE of course.

      KDE is quite a different beast than Gnome. For those who like KDE, SuSE is the best Linux to use, in my opinion. I like their 'everything *and* the kitchen sink approach; it's tweakable/customizable to death, and is simply a looker. The eyes want something too... :)
      CounterEthicsCommissioner-23034636492738337469105860790963
      • I probably should revisit KDE 4.3 and yes I was a SuSE/KDE 3.5.x devotee

        Maybe things are different now in 4.3, but I must say that the level of integration in GNOME is excellent.

        For the most part, I have never felt that I was missing KDE at any point with Ubuntu's fit and finish.
        D T Schmitz
        • YES

          You should 'revisit' KDE by all means.
          Tim Patterson
      • I have to ask - isn't KDE like the Win3.1 UI a startbar?

        Don't get me wrong - I think that Linux ... the OS ... is great for many things.

        However, in the context of providing a true alternative OS to Windows and OSX, I find it odd that they essentially stuck with the Windows 3.1 "windows full of icons" UI metaphor and bolted on a start menu ... AS WELL?

        I don't get it.
        de-void-21165590650301806002836337787023
        • Not to pick nits......

          But win3.1 did not have a start bar, that started with 95, when they moved from Program Manager to the explorer shell. (although there were apps/app launchers like AppBar, PowerBar & the Ms Office bar)


          I understand what you mean though, as there seems to be a trend (which I think comes from mods of the netbook UI's) to group apps & widgets a la PM. Even W7/Vista have something similar

          Still I find KDE 3.5/4.3 to be a better/best of the environments compared to any of the current/past Windows ones. the metaphor for ui's is really the same/similar for most all platforms.

          LazLong
          • So, you're saying that KDE is using the same tired old UI as Win 3.1

            Firstly, I posted the view that [i]"I find it odd that they essentially stuck with the Windows 3.1 "windows full of icons" UI metaphor and [b]bolted on a start menu ... AS WELL?[/b]"[/i]

            I am well aware when the start menu arrived ... I've been using Windows as my primary OS since Windows/386 (v2.1).

            But that's my issue - KDE just looks like it's cobbled together the two main UI metaphors of the last 30 years of computing an a scizophrenic attempt to appease all parties. I thought that Linux was all about eschewing the "tired" old-school approaches to computing and having the balls to reach out and introduce the world to the ways in which computers SHOULD work.

            Alas, it seems to me like they've done little to accomplish this and have ended up with, essentially, a spruced up Windows 3.1 and Win95.

            This, to me, isn't progress.
            de-void-21165590650301806002836337787023
          • I was going by your title...

            I had misread.... Oh well...
            Anyway.. You are entitled to your opinion.
            I would disagree.
            It does seem those who only know/advocate Windows, believe everything starts with it/them.

            All I was saying is the Metaphor for ui's is generally similar for all platforms. That simple, good, useful design last a long time and is used by many, and all have progressed much. (I too started using Windows from V1 when it looked like a bad copy of an App/file manager called Command Post)

            BTW there were several predate both Win3/95, Apple Finder, CDE, Nextstep, Presentation Manager, New Wave, etc..

            IMHO KDE is what Windows(Explorer/Mustang) could/should have been in terms of power & integration. I even prefer Gnome, Xfce, LXde, OpenBox over Windows. While Windows old & new have some interesting & useful qualities, I see it as a kludge.


            to each his own.......
            LazLong
          • "the Metaphor for ui's is generally similar" because of a lack of balls

            Everyone's playing catch-up with the big fella.

            Apple's OS's of the past (including NeXTstep), along with GEM, et al. largely copied the PARC desktop metaphor with a menu across the top of the screen.

            Win95 introduced a new collapsible "start menu" and practically every other OS has copied it (including Apple).

            Why? Because they all want to cash-in on the big-guy's success.

            IMO Linux would be more interesting if they'd actually had an original idea of their own and created their own UI metaphors, designs and implemented them. Instead, Linux has spent its time re-creating what already exists.

            I appreciate that you prefer Linux to Windows. Good for you.

            Personally, I'm sticking with the OS that has not only helped me along a very successful career path, but which (thus far) most of the rest of the world prefer over all alternatives.
            de-void-21165590650301806002836337787023
          • @de-void I don't see it that way...

            All of the ones that predate had something similar (not all in the same place) Apple's Finder (droped down from the top) had app list named Applications, w95 just flipped it to the bottom. Nextstep/CDE/Irix had similar or you could just right/middle click for an App list/launcher.
            (a quality I really Like in KDE3 when working with multiple monitors)

            My 3.1/3.11 & 3.51 desktops looked like more of what was to come, with the use of Appbar, Powerbar, and even the MS Office Bar. Yes they called it Start but there was much prior art/ideas/implementations. MS just copied repackaged some of the better stuff of what was there. Like I said good useful ideas tend to get reused & improved but MS was hardly first with anything.

            There are various UI's that take a slightly different path, Enlightenment, & Symphony come to mind but there are others. there are even a couple for Windows.

            Yes I prefer Linux, but it does not preclude me from knowing or using Windows, Mac or anything else, if want/need. I too have made a living with MS/Windows, but also with Novell, Mac, Sun, Irix, Linux etc.

            Why some of you are so hung up on Marketshare/dominance I am not sure, and why you need to dis Linux if you don't like/understand or even spend any time with it.
            LazLong
          • @de-void, you mean like that KDE-like taskbar...

            that Win7 had bolted on to it. Right...?

            [i]IMO Linux would be more interesting if they'd actually had an original idea of their own and created their own UI metaphors, designs and implemented them. Instead, Linux has spent its time re-creating what already exists.[/i]

            Somehow I don't think any idea Linux would come up with would be to your satisfaction...
            Wintel BSOD
          • @not_nice

            I think your missing his point, as I agree with
            everything he said. There are bits and pieces
            of GUI concepts that trace back even before
            PARC, but thats not the point. I don't read his
            comments that he was dissing linux. I like
            linux, but KDE is not linux, so to "dis" KDE's
            lack of GUI innovation shows no baring on
            linux. Even though they are generally viewed at
            the same thing. I agree, I want to see the
            linux community come out with something before
            anyone else. Which, they've never done. It's
            not a dis, its just a fact.
            shadfurman
          • As an add-on...

            notice how most Linux fans propose their much-loved distros/wares as "alternatives" to either Windows or PC-based wares, rather than "here's a better solution"?!?!

            Really, what was the last FOSS, truly original idea/creation??
            kaninelupus
          • @shadfurman

            [i]I think your missing his point, as I agree with everything he said.[/i]

            Well I don't agree with anything he said since I don't believe he's ever used Linux in the first place and is only here to start a fight.

            [i]There are bits and pieces of GUI concepts that trace back even before PARC, but thats not the point.[/i]

            Why not?

            [i]I don't read his comments that he was dissing linux.[/i]

            Well you must be new around here because de-void has had a history of dissing anything that isn't Micro$oft. He seems to have nothing positive to say about it.

            [i]I like linux, but KDE is not linux, so to "dis" KDE's lack of GUI innovation shows no baring on linux. Even though they are generally viewed at the same thing.[/i]

            It was designed around the UNIX desktop, not Apple's or M$'s, so your semantics here are really pointless. At this stage of the game, KDE and Linux are mutually synonymous with one another.

            [i]I agree, I want to see the linux community come out with something before anyone else. Which, they've never done. It's not a dis, its just a fact.[/i]

            Will so far, I haven't seen anything revolutionary coming out of the Windoze camp either. Although Win7 may turn out to be a decent OS, I haven't seen anything that will blow me away about it. It's corrected a lot of Vista's mistakes. That's about it. Apple was the one who came out with some pretty impressive GUI features before anybody else.
            Wintel BSOD
          • unfortunately I have to agree...

            however out of mac/windows/linux linux IS the
            younger of them. Yes it was based on previous
            unix standards, but so were mac and even
            windows to some extent.

            I would like to see the linux community start
            adding innovation and user-friendliness to
            their products. I mean, I figured linux would
            have multi-touch down by now, it's been around
            in various forms for decades, if it was in ANY
            widely available OS I thought there would be a
            package for linux. So I went looking for one
            for my homebuilt multitouch table, and it looks
            like the few options available are fairly buggy
            and not at all mature... thats just an example.
            With most of the features I'm seeing in KDE 4.3
            already available in Win7 and OSX its seems its
            still the same story. Linux is still playing
            catchup in the GUI/UF arena.
            shadfurman
          • Come back when Windows can pin windows

            on top and also not steal focus when loading new programs
            deaf_e_kate
          • M$ Harpooned de-void in the Ice Age w/it's Flea Bitten OS! :D

            Yah... I heard you were even present when Gates ripped off the University where he studied (just before he dropped out)! :O

            Probably there when his mom helped him burn Gary Kildall in ripping off CP/M (DOS= Dirtythief'd OS) at the birth of M$'s "Embrace Extend Extinguish" corporate bible. Which was written while burning IBM on OS/2's ripoff for Windows and NT of what IBM was paying them to write! ;)

            You know (you arrogant slave), Linux had Aero effects way back with OpenGL 2.0 and David Reveman's Compiz in 2005. Of course you were too busy twitting and blue screening on M$'s poor imitation of Open Source's set of API's that run the rest of the World. Yes in case you haven't come out of your Steve Balmer stupor from the movie set of "Dances With Monkeys", maybe you should Google (controls over 70% of search market) Khronos Group's newly overhauled complete set of API's. The only complete set of API's in the entire World.

            Perhaps you'll find out that DirectX is a mere shadow by comparison in the number of devices it's installed on. That includes, well over 90% of Cell Phones (that now out numbers Desktops over 3to1), and literally every other legitimate OS and computing device. Including being in every M$ OS. Some things punks/thieves just can't do alone!

            Oh and why don't you tell us how much of a market share M$ has in the HPC (high performance computing) Cluster World (over 90%). Or.... tell us all, who wrote the SELINUX kernel? That's now incorporated into the Linux kernel itself (by NSA). Tell us what OS powers the greatest majority of the World's Super Computers (including IBM and DOE's Roadrunner at Los Alamos at 1.8PFLOPS)?

            So... when you're running a flea bitten inbred OS like Windoz though, it's hard to realize you've been sleeping with the dogs. Where they are continually biting the hands that feed them while they get bit continually themselves. M$ Windows has always been on it's last leg going to the dogs, BSOD'd and mired in it's own ignorance of what it's Ford Pinto Products (born to break) are really all about!

            But with Windoz, it's Fix Or Repair Daily OS isn't much better than a Fiat (fix it again tony). Even if it was capable of entering the freeway into the Super Computer World of Linux. Where M$'s incestuous urge to kill itself would Blue Screen it to death! ;)

            LINUX and Open Source are everywhere you are or ever want to be!
            i2fun@...
          • Windows is capable of entering the freeway

            [i]Even if it (Windows) was capable of entering the freeway into the Super Computer World of Linux.[/i]

            Windows is capable of entering the freeway into the Super Computer World of Linux. In fact it is at #10[b] (ten) [/b]running on an IBM with a lot of PowerXcell chips. Do you remember the PowerPC chip used in Apple MAC's? Well the PowerXcell is several generations upgraded from those used in the MAC's.

            And there are 4 other computers running Windows in the top 500 Super Computers.

            But most are running Linux. Including Red Hat, Susie, and Ubuntu.
            Me_too
          • Oh man, your post is hilarious...

            spit several guts laughing while reading it. Nice one! :-D
            tek_heretik