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SuSE Linux Enterprise 11 vs. openSuSE 11.1

First, let me make this clear, this is NOT intended as a "review" of SuSE Linux Enterprise. Not even a "mini-review".

First, let me make this clear, this is NOT intended as a "review" of SuSE Linux Enterprise. Not even a "mini-review". This is Jamie Watson seeing that a free "sneak peek" pre-release version is available, and being curious about two things: does it include the drivers and configuration for the HP 2133 Mini-Note (since the Mini-Note is available from HP with SLED 10 pre-loaded), and how does it compare, in general, with openSuSE.

The Sneak Preview of SuSE Linux Enterprise 11 (RC4) downloads as a DVD ISO image, either 2.6 GB for the Server version, or 3.8 GB for the Desktop version. To get the download, you have to register and create a login for yourself on the Novell web site, but it is all free.

SuSE Linux Enterprise gives the impression of being a more polished version of openSuSE, right from the first installation screen. The basic screens are almost the same, but the graphics are just a bit nicer, the dialogs are a bit more complete, everything seems to just have gotten a bit more attention. However, the installation process takes a lot longer than openSuSE 11 took, and I really mean a lot longer - something like two or three times as long - well over an hour, compared to 20 minutes or so.

Alas, my first hopes were dashed. The display came up using the VESA Framebuffer driver (fbdev), at 1024x768 instead of the optimal 1280x768, and the Broadcom wireless adapter wasn't working at all. I was able to get the display working properly by copying over the openchrome driver that I already had compiled and working on another Linux distribution - exactly the same as I had previously done with openSuSE 11.1. I assume that I will also be able to get the wireless working the same way that I did with openSuSE.

Using SLED on the HP 2133 continued the impression that I got during the installation. It is a lot like openSuSE, but with a bit more polish. Things that I normally have to install myself are already installed - media players for audio, WMV, Sliverlight and Flash, Acrobat Reader, Citrix ICA Client, and so on. In fact, once it was booted and I was working with it, I found that I generally forgot whether I it was SLED or openSuSE that was running.

Of course, if you buy SuSE Linux Enterprise as a retail product, or get it pre-installed on a computer, you also get professional support for it. So if you want, need or "must have" such support, this is an excellent choice for you. Personally, I will continue to use openSuSE quite happily. That opinion is still subject to change, though, when I try out the pre-installed SLED 10 on my partner's new Mini-Note, which should arrive today.

jw 27/2/2009