openSuse 11.4 is here despite uncertainty around Novell's future. OpenSuse team has done an excellent job with this release. There are major 'bugs' which I will talk about later, but overall it is an impressive release. The release packs some of the latest software packages available today, so it is a very good 'place' for users to try and test upcoming applications.
openSuse, like Fedora, is quite popular among system admins – the tentacles go to SLES and RHEL. These two community driven operating systems also work as a foundation for the those enterprise editions. So, you get to see a lot of powerful tools for enterprise environment.
That doesn't mean openSuse is not for ordinary Joe. Unlike CentOS or Sabayon, openSuse has something for everyone – it's your server, your entertainment media center and your workstation. What I like the most about openSuse is the way applications are integrated with the desktop, they feel at home.
LibreOffice, under openSuse, felt like a new application and I have been using it for 4 months now under Ubuntu. openSuse 11.4 claims to be the first stable release which offers LibreOffice as the default productivity suite.
Another major offering is Firefox 4. openSuse gives you an opportunity to try and test Firefox 4 and see what's coming. OpenSuse 11.4 impressed me a lot when it comes to the latest software packages.
A word about Banshee
Banshee, as expected, is the default music player with the Amazon Mp3 store activated. I would love to see services like Magnatune, which support artists, to be enabled by default so it can benefit both user as well as the artist. There are plugins to enable Magnature support, but it might make more sense for users if it is enabled by default.
Oh No Mono
Yes, I have issues with Mono, .Net and C#. I like Banshee very much for the ease of use and its features. But I firmly believe that Mono is an easily avoidable risk. Microsoft is one of the reasons why I use Free Software and using Mono will put my computing at risk, again.
Banhsee developers: I love this software and I appreciate and value the hard work you have put behind this application, but beware of the Microsoft risks, please. Microsoft has attacked us time and again and I think it is not wise to invest our resources in their framework and language. Still, kudos for great job with Banshee!
openSuse has been one of my favorite distros. However there are areas which, I think, need improvement. Design is one such area. The default icon set of openSuse 11.4 opaques the beauty of openSuse technologies. The icon set and design may not matter much to enterprise customers, but it does matter to a home user. Canonical's 'obsessive' investment in design shows what a home user needs.
My only gripe with openSuse 11.4 is with LiveUSB installation. I always use USBs to test or install operating systems and openSuse 11.4 can't be installed using LiveUSBs. The traditional UNetbootin gave me kernel panic. Then I tried ImageWriter but I ended up with an image which gets stuck at this screen. DD command returned the same results, and then I tried the instructions here, but openSuse 11.4 refused to boot from a USB.
This page has more information on how a Windows user can create a LiveUSB of openSuse and I think it makes sense. But, I don't have any Windows machines. Sadly, the only Windows machine I could get my hands on was Windows 7 and there is a bug which won't let me burn the iso image on Windows machine as well.
I reached a conclusion that the only way I may be able to install openSuse on any of my 4 machines is via DVD. But two of my netbooks don't have DVD drives. So, there will be no openSuse running on my shiny netbooks. In a nutshell, I can't install openSuse11.4 outside my VirtualBox – thank you Sun, thank you Oracle.
I have a strange feeling that may be openSuse is aware of my opinion about Mono, so it said No No!
I find openSuse fitting right between Fedora and Ubuntu. It has all the features that an expert needs along with the ease that an average user like me wants. It offers bleeding edge software amalgamated with the ease of use. Perfect.
I do believe that openSuse has great potential for netbooks as well. We need a working/tested solution for LiveUSBs so that netbook users can install openSuse without any problem. If you have succeeded in installing openSuse via LiveUSB, share your magic trick here.
OpenSuse 11.4 gets 3 out of 5 stars. Great OS, do try it.
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