It's been over a week now since openSUSE 12.2 was released, and I have been installing it on the various netbooks and laptops around me. It has worked just fine on everything I have tried so far, and my intention was to write a glowing summary of how easy it is to install and how well it works. Then, over the weekend I ran into a small hitch. But first, the good news.
The openSUSE 12.2 distribution is available in the usual variety of versions — KDE and Gnome 3 Live images, and a full-blown 4.7GB Installer image. The standard KDE desktop is shown above in a screenshot taken on my HP Pavilion DM1-3105EZ sub-notebook, which has a 1,366x768 display.
However, all is not green and rosy with this distribution — well, mostly green, as seen above, but not entirely rosy. This distribution seems to have experienced a particularly difficult development cycle. There were several delays in the schedule, what appeared to be a full stop in development to re-establish a grip on the process and a final release lacking the integration of a lot of package updates.
The most obvious result of these issues is that after you install from one of the live images, it is important that you then run apper or yast to install the latest updates. That update process will take a good half an hour or more because there are so many updates to install.
Once that is done you will have recent versions of pretty much everything, including Linux kernel 3.4.6, KDE 3.8.5, Firefox 15.0, digiKam 2.6.0 and such.
I can't write about openSUSE KDE — or any other KDE distribution for that matter — without mentioning my favourite netbook desktop, which is included with the standard KDE distribution. Here is a screenshot of that desktop, taken on my Acer Aspire One 522, which has a 1,024x600 screen resolution:
If you have a netbook or sub-notebook, there are so many reasons to use Linux instead of Windows 7 Stupor Edition, including better performance, no ridiculous arbitrary limitations such as not being able to change the wallpaper or not being able to use an external monitor with an extended desktop. This wonderful KDE netbook desktop is another excellent reason.
But there is one significant problem with the standard openSUSE 12.2 installation, which I didn't run into the first few times that I installed it.
I prefer Legacy Grub to the newer Grub 2, because I find it easier to install and maintain. I think that Grub 2 is over-complicated for my purposes, and I like the openSUSE animated boot screen. So I'm in the habit of changing the bootloader selection in the openSUSE install from Grub 2, which is the default, to Grub.
This past weekend I decided to take a look at Grub 2 again, to see how it has developed since the last time I tried it. Unfortunately, I ran into a very large problem. It failed to install on my HP DM1 system, complaining about not being able to complete the mkinitrd command.
That problem seemed strange and unlikely to me, because I had already installed it on my Acer AO522 with no problem. But another try produced the same result — and reinstalling on the Acer succeeded again. Very strange.
It turns out that the problem is that it does not properly recognise and support the AMD Radeon HD 6310 graphic controller in the DM1, but it handles the Radeon HD 6290 controller in the Acer just fine. The solution is to change the Bootloader from Grub 2 to Grub in the final installation step. Then everything works well.