Novell has released SuSE Linux Enterprise 11, both the Desktop (SLED) and Server (SLES) versions. I am interested in this distribution because SLED is one of the factory-installed options for my HP 2133 Mini-Notes. In fact, one of them came with SLED 10 installed, so I am particularly interested in seeing how well the newer SLED 11 works on them. I had previously downloaded and installed the public beta release (SLED 11 RC4), with reasonably good results. This final release can be used on a 60-day evaluation basis, so I decided to give it a go once again.
Download was the same as for the RC4 release; you have to register on the Novell SuSE web site, and then you are free to download it and will be sent an Activation Code by email. You should be prepared for a long download and DVD burn process, because there is no "LiveCD" version, you have to get the entire 3.6 GB ISO image. Once you slog your way through that, the installation is routine. The installer is similar to that for openSuSE, of course, but looks a bit more "refined" to me. In addition to the typical installation dialog on the console, you can also choose to look at a "slide show" of SuSE Linux Enterprise propaganda, or the Release Notes.
I installed it first on my Mini-Note, the one with the WXGA (1280x768) display. Although the installation was no problem, it was left using the "fbdev" display driver, at a resolution of 1024x768. Close, but not good enough. I grabbed the openchrome driver files from Ubuntu 8.10, which is using the same X server version, and it came up properly at 1280x768.
Next problem, the Broadcom 4312 WiFi network adapter wasn't working. I had the same problem with openSuSE 11, and found that there was a script to download and install the necessary firmware (install_bcm43xx_firmware). Unfortunately there is no such script on this SLED release. Even worse, the b43-fwcutter utility, which is used by the script, isn't even there. I got around all this mess by simply copying over the /lib/firmware/b43 directory from the openSuSE partition to the SLED partition; of course, it would also be possible to follow the instructions at the Linux Wireless site, to first compile the utility and then download, extract and install the firmware.
Once these two problems were fixed, everything looked good on the Mini-Note with SLED 11. Overall I would say that it was a LOT less difficult than my recent excursion with openSolaris. I will try it again this evening on the other Mini-Note, with the WSVGA (1024x600) display. Actually, I'm anxious to compare SLED 11 with the pre-installed SLED 10 that is still on that one.
Update: On the WSVGA (1024x600) Mini-Note, the SLED 11 installation procedure is not able to figure out how to get the X server running on the display, so it brings up a text mode installer. That works just fine, and the installation is exactly the same. As for the WXGA system, once the installation is finished I copied over the openchrome driver and the Broadcom b43 firmware files, and everything works just great.