openSuSE 13.1 hands on: Some more thoughts

A few more days, a bit more experience, A lot more details - and a btrfs filesystem installation!
Written by J.A. Watson, Contributor on

It has been a few days now since my initial experience with the latest release of openSuSE, so perhaps it is a good time to review what else has happened during that time, and fill in some details, wrap up some loose ends and add a couple of things that I had intended to say in the first post, but managed to forget.

First, I failed to mention the release notes. They are worth a read, there is a lot of interesting and valuable information in there.

Second, I didn't mention the variety of images and desktops.

Hands on with openSuSE 13.1: Another outstanding release

The openSuSE distribution, available on their Downloads web page includes Live ISO images for KDE and Gnome 3 desktops (a bit over 1GB each), a full DVD Installer image (4.7GB), which of course can also be written to a sufficiently large USB stick, and a fairly small Net Installer image (about 300MB), which boots a minimal system and then downloads all the necessary packages for installation from the internet. 

It is important to note that the "Installer" images, DVD and Net, are just that - when booted, they can only run the installation program, they are not full-blown Live images.

Both of these installers include not only the KDE and Gnome desktops, but also Xfce, LXDE, Enlightenment, minimal X Windows, and text-only options. The advantage of the Net installer is that you always get the latest versions of the packages, so it avoids the "install and then immediately update" sequence.

This becomes more and more significant as time passes and the number of updates increases - remember, openSuSE is on an eight-month release schedule, so this version will be with us until sometime next summer.

Finally, this page also includes a "Rescue" image. This is a special image that is kept small enough to fit on a CD-R (or a USB stick, of course), and includes a number of specially selected utilities for repairing or recovering data from damaged systems. 

It is interesting to note that this image uses an Xfce desktop, presumably in the interest of keeping it small and lightweight; but it can not be used to install or upgrade a system, so it is not a "back door" way to get an Xfce Live installation media.

Third, I mentioned in the previous post that there was a problem with the Ralink 3290 driver, and I hoped that it would be fixed in the first batch of patches to come through. Well, unfortunately it wasn't, it still has a very inconsistent WiFi connection, which is quite frustrating.

This is actually nothing to do directly with openSuSE, as I mentioned there are various other distributions which have the same problem with that adapter, including Ubuntu 13.10, which also still hasn't fixed it. The problem has been fixed in Fedora (both 19 and 20), so I am still sure that the fix will make its way through to the other distributions - hopefully sometime soon.

Fourth, I have installed openSuSE 13.1 on one more system since the previous post - my very, very old Fujitsu-Siemens Lifebook S2110. 

This is a relic which had been on loan to some good friends, and has made several trips to Africa over the past few years. It is an old AMD Turion64 system with a Radeon Xpress 200 graphic controller, 13" 1024x768 screen, 2GB of memory, 150GB disk, Broadcom wired and Atheros wireless network adapter. 

It was still running Linux Mint 8 (heavens, what year was that from?), and the BIOS is so old that it wouldn't even boot from a USB stick.

No worries, I just burned the KDE Live image to a DVD-R, booted that and installed as normal. On the other hand, it originally came with Windows XP loaded, and although you could apparently get Windows Vista for it (at least it appears that way from what I can find out), that was the end of the (Windows) road, whereas it still runs the latest versions of Linux very well indeed.

Not only that, but since I was making a clean install on this system, I decided to make it my first btrfs test system, and it works perfectly, with btrfs as the one and only filesystem. Now I get to explore and learn about that!

Finally, the KDE Netbook desktop is still alive and well in this release. I have been remiss in not explicitly mentioning that a few times recently, but I still always use it on any of the 10" screen netbooks, and sometimes on the 11.6" screens as well, because it really is quite pleasant to work with.

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