openSUSE 11.3: The Linux Lizard Lives

openSUSE 11.3: The Linux Lizard Lives

Summary: Novell's openSUSE 11.3 community Linux OS brings stability with KDE 4.4.4, a fresh 2.6.34 kernel and support for the new BTRFS file system.

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Novell's openSUSE 11.3 community Linux OS brings stability with KDE 4.4.4, a fresh 2.6.34 kernel and support for the new BTRFS file system.

The last time we looked at openSUSE was back in October of last year. It's been a long haul for the SUSE community between versions, not just in terms of the effort to do the coding, but also in terms of the way the openSUSE community has been handling itself in general in relation to its peers.

Also Read: openSUSE 11.2 M8, What a Fine Lookin' Lizard

Also See: openSUSE 11.2 M8 Gallery

openSUSE 11.3, the latest version of Novell's community Linux OS was released on July 15th. I've put the OS through its paces for the last several days and I have to say that while I continue to be impressed with the functionality of openSUSE, I'm not seeing a huge amount of sexy in the latest release.

At best, I'd call openSUSE 11.3 a bug fix/service pack for 11.2 and 11.1. There are a few new features, most of which are under the hood, but from an end-user perspective there isn't a heck of a lot of new stuff to see here.

I'd liken openSUSE 11.3 to the "Windows 7" of openSUSE releases, where 11.1 and 11.2 were more "Vista". Most of this can be attributed to the fact that KDE 4.x prior to the most recent 4.3 and 4.4.x builds was horrendously unstable.

In terms of aesthetic improvements, If you look at the openSUSE 11.2 M8 gallery from last year, it's pretty much a good representation of what the latest version still looks like, almost a year later. I didn't bother with creating a new gallery for that exact reason.

This is not to say that KDE 4.4.4 looks dated -- in fact, it's one of the most attractive and modern UI's I've ever seen on an operating system. But it's clear that rather than introduce new functionality with this release, the openSUSE as well as the KDE 4 teams focused on stability and performance. The openSUSE product highlights page details some of the more gearhead incremental changes and improvements to this release, if you want to dive in.

Under the hood, openSUSE supports the 2.6.34 Linux kernel, the latest ALSA 1.0.23 and X.org 7.5. As with Ubuntu, 10.04 LTS, the "nouveau" open source nVidia driver is now the default for graphics cards with that chipset. Kernel mode-Setting (KMS) is now enabled by default, and the ATI Radeon driver has now replaced "radeonhd". The Zypper command-line package manager has had some re-work and handles dependencies in a cleaner fashion.

There are a few legitimately new things of note in 11.3 -- one of which is the introduction of the high-performance and ultra-scalable Btrfs file system in experimental mode. In addition to the command-line tools for Btrfs the Yast2 GUI partitioner in openSUSE 11.3 can build and mount a Btrfs without much fuss.

Additionally, openSUSE can run with Btrfs as its root filesystem, but this is not a default configuration and the new filesystem has to be picked during Expert install. As of this time Btrfs cannot be used for /boot -- that still has to be a traditional stable filesystem such as ext4.

In addition to Btrfs, openSUSE now has a lighter UI for netbooks called the Plasma Netbook Workspace, for those of you that want to try this power-users OS on a light system. Syncing movies and music with Smartphones such as the iPhone and Android devices are now supported with the Banshee Media Player which is built upon the Open Source implementation of the Mono .NET framework, Mono.

With 11.3, openSUSE also introduces a partnership with SpiderOak, a cloud-based storage system. This feature is similar to the UbuntuOne cloud that was introduced with Lucid Lynx 10.04 LTS.

While I am happy the openSUSE community has been able to give the distribution a fine sheen of polish since the last release, I do have some legitimate concerns about the project's ongoing viability and identity.

With Novell putting itself on the market -- calling into question the eventual fate of the distribution should the company and its assets be acquired by a larger, healthier entity -- and with the increasing popularity of Ubuntu for end-users and enterprise use and Fedora continuing to break the leading edge for developers, openSUSE runs the risk of becoming a "second system" or a 3rd-place status.

This fate of marginalization is virtually guaranteed unless it figures out how to distinguish itself from all the rest of the distributions out there or gains greater independence from Novell, whose objectives for the distribution have often come into conflict with the desires of the community-at-large.

Is openSUSE it a power-user's OS? Is it developer-centric? Is it for regular end-users like Ubuntu? Is it a desktop or a server? It also doesn't help that the distribution no longer has a community leader and Novell has yet to announce a replacement, as Joe "Zonker" Brockmeier resigned from Novell some months ago.

I've also been observing the discussions on the openSUSE developer lists and to say that the community is undergoing something of an identity crisis and lacking a clearly defined mission and organization would be an understatement.

Despite the distribution's political and organizational problems -- ones which admittedly, I know these folks are trying very hard to address -- openSUSE is still a very solid Linux distribution, albeit one which is more for the experienced user than the newbie. KDE 4.4.4 appears to be maturing nicely and now that it is finally stable, may now actually get some significant adoption.

Have you had a chance to install openSUSE 11.3 yet? Talk Back and Let Me Know.

Topics: Operating Systems, Linux, Open Source, Software

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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33 comments
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  • RE: openSUSE 11.3: The Linux Lizard Lives

    Is linux still around? After 2000 it became totally irrelevant. Nothing new under the sun with this distro, same old stuff. "Look we can be on the desktop too!" but no one wants it.

    Gentleman, start your compilers!
    Loverock Davidson
    • Unskilled and unaware of it

      That's the beauty of the <i>Dunning-Kruger effect</i>, it allows you to still feel happy about yourself in spite of having so little intellectual horsepower to rely on.
      OS Reload
      • RE: openSUSE 11.3: The Linux Lizard Lives

        @OS Reload
        Saying he has a "little intellectual horsepower" is being far too generous - he'd find it hard getting a job flipping burgers. Most people get bored of stupid trolling after a while but he keeps on and on. Obviously has nothing else in life to live for, how sad....
        deaf_e_kate
      • RE: LD

        @OS Reload

        You have to forgive LD, it is tough being isolated in that underground bunker. From some of his postings, I get the impression that a `temporal distortion field` is in effect; somehow connecting LD and his 1980's existence with the present day. For most people, they just download a binary package; but LD, insists that the only way to get a Linux install is to COMPILE it yourself. I even bet that LD is using an 8080 with 8 inch floppies. He probably connects to the internet through an old, discarded IMP too.

        Then again, perhaps LD got too close to St. Job's `reality distortion field`, and has never been the same since.
        fatman65535
    • RE: openSUSE 11.3: The Linux Lizard Lives

      @Loverock Davidson
      I agree wholeheartedly. Without equivalents to Cardfile and Program Manager, for example, who needs it? How are users supposed to keep track of their contacts and start programs, like Word 2.0 and even, for the luckiest ones, Mosaic? I bet Internet in a Box won't run on it, even.

      Bleh. Who needs it indeed?
      clfitz
    • Competency...

      @Loverock Davidson ... Repetition is likely how LD learns. Since she has no friends (how could she?), nobody is around to show the click-by-click steps to install and configure Linux.

      It's no wonder that LD doesn't like Linux, apparently somebody played a joke on her and gave her Mepis (per numerous recompile the Kernel assertions). What a cruel joke too, as LD isn't capable of grasping new concepts outside of rote memory through repetition. Again, as evidenced by her many posts.

      I've installed and configured Linux for folks with very limited PC experience - USING Linux is easy and installing/configuring is getting easier and easier (Linux MINT!), but for LD, she is lost, as nobody is there to configure her machine for her. Perhaps she needs to buy a Dell with Ubuntu pre-installed, then she'll realize that Mepis is but a distro and not what every linux looks like.

      This is what happens when you're a know-it-all - nobody wants to play nice with you and it's hard to get anyone to show you new things over and over so you can 'learn'.

      No, LD, competency is not your strong suit. You'd make a much better lawyer than tech, as it's all too easy to despise you.
      SpikeyMike
  • SuSE is my favorite distro.

    I hope not see it go as that would leave REHL as the only remaining enterprise quality distro. Bleh. SuSE has survived mishandling this long, maybe it can survive another shift.<br><br>No, Ubuntu Server or any other debian derivative doesn't count in my book.
    People
  • RE: openSUSE 11.3: The Linux Lizard Lives

    Thanks for taking the time up front to provide a quality demo so as to not waste everyone's time. This is a really long demo and I'd hate to have to spend my entire lunch break watching something not terribly informative. Oh, wait, no, the other thing, "If I had prepared for this stupid demo..." Sounds like there is a 747 idling next to the microphone, by the way. Also, maybe demo something relevant like enterprise features of the desktop? From this demo, I get the impression you don't actually use opensuse despite claiming it as your favorite. There's really a lot more to Linux than pixels and filesystems. All of the demos I've ever seen focus on trivial nonsense that no one who actually uses Linux cares about. "Oooh, see, there's a mouse cursor!" Could we maybe have some substance?
    cabdriverjim
    • Agreed.

      @cabdriverjim
      Dig into YaST from the CLI or something. Anything but the same ol' junk that lives on all the other platforms. We're getting the see it once, seen it again issue.
      People
    • RE: openSUSE 11.3: The Linux Lizard Lives

      @cabdriverjim So what you're saying is you really liked the demo and the sounds of my awesome jet-engine fan assembly on my Opteron workstation. :)
      jperlow
      • RE: openSUSE 11.3: The Linux Lizard Lives

        @jperlow Why yes, yes I did. Some of it was great. Some of it was bleh. I miss what wasn't there the most. The fan noise was just a distraction, though. Mostly, I feel like demos of this sort get stuck on showing that the system does exactly what you'd expect it to do and nothing surprising or new. There seems to be this Linux demo template everyone follows that ends up being empty on information. I feel like there's an entire subculture of Linux tourists writing articles about Linux. Screenshot galleries are the perfect example. Its like taking so many photos of Hawaii just to prove you were there you didn't have the chance to enjoy being there.

        For example, I've seen a million Ubuntu demos but never one that shows that it officially supports Active Directory integration. Rarely does a demo touch on the subtleties of features between versions. The btrfs section of the demo is great and exactly the sort of thing I'd like to see. Even if its just a bugfix release, maybe explain some of the bugs that were fixed.

        Overall, though, I appreciate that someone is at least out there making demos of important distros.
        cabdriverjim
  • RE: openSUSE 11.3: The Linux Lizard Lives

    Watch The Obama Deception movie before The Joker [Obama] gets rid of it.---------------http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=7886780711843120756#
    max597
    • Will do.

      @max597

      Thanks.
      People
      • Keep wearing the Tin Foil...

        @People & max597...
        Snooki_smoosh_smoosh
  • No compelling reason to upgrade -have too much installed

    I will stay with 11.2 until I know for sure that upgrading will not break my existing stuff.
    I hope I am the prototype of home users who aren't using Opensuse / linux at home because they want to play with Linux, but who are actually using various open source applications and are loving it.

    I am not a linux zealot, in fact to use my scanner I have VMplayer running on my opensuse 11.2 host and winxp as the guest.
    kpthottam
  • please share 11.2 to 11.3 upgrade experience

    please share 11.2 to 11.3 upgrade experience
    kpthottam
  • I rewrote SuSE 11.1 myself to make it stable

    [i]Most of this can be attributed to the fact that KDE 4.x prior to the most recent 4.3 and 4.4.x builds was horrendously unstable.[/i]

    Since Linux comes with the source code, it was dead simple for me to simply rewrite KDE and make it stable. Didn't everyone else who installed Linux do the same thing? There isn't any point in using Linux unless you get under the hood and start fixing bugs yourself.

    ;)
    NonZealot
    • RE: openSUSE 11.3: The Linux Lizard Lives

      @NonZealot

      USE flags are a wonderful thing. ;)
      Michael Kelly
      • RE: openSUSE 11.3: The Linux Lizard Lives

        @Michael Kelly Ha Ha you fellow Gentoo user...for me though, GNOME is stable enough at this time...Wait for GNOME 3 I guess.
        ubiquitous1980
    • "Didn't everyone else ... do the same thing?"

      "There isn't any point in using Linux unless you get under the hood and start fixing bugs yourself."

      Then don't be surprised when the masses continue to avoid it. Most people have things they prefer to do over fixing bugs, or developing the skills to do so.

      Or maybe, just maybe, people find other reasons to use Linux. It's just possible they like having a stable OS, or like getting it and apps at no cost, or they find Microsoft abhorrent. Nah, screw them if they can't write an OS. They're only the majority; who cares if the game producers and driver authors continue to cater to them?
      CharlieSpencer