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Yes, ladies and gents, it's that time again. The time where I make a pilgrimage to my local geek mecca, Fry's Electronics, and proudly pay more than I've ever paid ...
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  1. #1
    Linux Guru techieMoe's Avatar
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    My Experience with SuSe 9.3 64-bit


    Yes, ladies and gents, it's that time again. The time where I make a pilgrimage to my local geek mecca, Fry's Electronics, and proudly pay more than I've ever paid for any other Linux OS in order to have the latest and greatest from Novell.

    First Impressions:

    I've always been impressed with the general polish of SuSE, from the slick box art to the manuals, the CD-wallet style packaging for the 2 DVDs and 5 CDROMS, and even the art pressed on the actual media. You get the impression this is a real commercial product, which to me is a good thing, but will no doubt anger, infuriate, and cause gastrointestinal distress to some Linux zealots.

    Package Selection:

    KDE 3.4 is at the top of the list. It looks very pretty. No particularly ground-breaking improvements, but if you like KDE, you're going to like v3.4.

    The default bootsplash for SuSE 9.3 is new from 9.2. Gone is the clean corporate look (though it's still available on the CD if you so desire it) in favor of a greener, more "woodsy" splash that looks kind of like blades of grass that are very, very badly out of focus.

    Make and gcc are up to date and included on the media, but not installed by default. Call it a little thing, but SuSE ticked off an awful lot of people by not even including gcc and make with SuSE 9.1 Personal, so installing these two packages automatically wouldn't kill you.

    As usual, the sheer volume of packages available on the media out of the box for SuSE is nice. What's nicer is that all of the ones I've installed actually work, with the notable exception of MP3 support (see annoyances below).

    For me personally, the thing that keeps me coming back to SuSE is the ability for me to run it without an internet connection. Other free (no cost) distributions such as Fedora, Debian, Gentoo, etc, are nearly worthless to me in their default install unless I spend time online downloading patches or even entire programs that are missing. SuSE includes everything I need and then some out of the box. This may not mean much to those of you blessed with broadband, but to me it means the world.

    All New This Release:

    iPod Support! No really. It's a first attempt, I grant you, so it doesn't quite work up to par yet, but I must give Novell props for being the first distro I'm aware of to even try this.

    Allow me to clarify what I mean by that. I don't mean the first ones to allow you to access your iPod like a USB mass storage drive. You could do that from day one. I mean integrating into the OS the ability to browse your music by artist and playlist and drag music onto and off of your iPod (something you can't even do on a Mac without hacking it). It works simply: plug in your iPod and KDE pops up a browser window with "ipod://" and three folders: Artists, Playlists, and Utilities.

    I only used it to drag my music off my iPod onto my Linux box so I could listen to it while coding. This brings me to one caveat: you might not be able to listen to all the music on your iPod. If you ripped your music on a MS Windows or Mac computer, Apple's iTunes software tends to like to use Apple's AAC codec by default. Multimedia apps like JuK and XMMS as far as I know don't support playing this format. If you ripped all your music to your iPod in MP3 or (gasp!) WAV, you're golden. I welcome any feedback as to how to play AACs in Linux, if it's even possible.

    Two other features came up in 9.3 that I haven't personally played with, but are still worth mentioning: Xen virtualization and Beagle desktop search.

    Xen virtualization, from what I've read, is a way of running multiple OSes simultaneously, but not within a virtual machine like some other products (VMWare). Xen actually allows each OS native access to the hardware and manages resources between the different OS instances. I will eventually play with this because it sounds really cool in theory.

    Beagle, as far as I know, is a program for searching. That's it. It does more than existing desktop searches (IIRC it uses metadata and such), but I haven't played with it so I'm not sure what all else it does. It may very well make coffee while you wait.

    General Annoyances:

    My biggest annoyance with SuSE is not actually confined just to SuSE: multimedia support. Look, we all know MP3 is not a free (no-charge) format, but if anyone in the world can afford the couple of bucks per boxed set that it would take to license the codec legally, it's Novell. There is no excuse for Novell to not ship MP3 support (or even DVD support for that matter). Linspire does it. If the redheaded stepchild of Linux distributions beats you to a feature, you know you've got problems.

    In SuSE's defense, they do offer multimedia updates via their Yast Online Update tool that will fix some of these problems. You must first uninstall their crippled versions of Xine, Kaffeine, and XMMS in order to use them though. MadPenguin has a handy how-to for this very thing (it's for 9.2, but it worked on my 9.3 install as well).

    Final Word:
    There are those out there who would think me crazy for spending $50-80USD every six months to buy a pretty green boxed Linux OS, something that if I waited 2 or 3 months I could easily download for free.

    To those folks, I say it's my money, and SuSE has earned it for the past 3 versions as far as I'm concerned. Your mileage may vary, but for me, SuSE does what I want and that's worth its weight in gold.
    Registered Linux user #270181
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  2. #2
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    Excellent review TechieMoe! Almost makes me consider switching back to Suse.



    Jeremy
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    "All The Dude ever wanted was his rug back" - The Dude

  3. #3
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    Wow, Novell should pay you for making commercials!

  4. #4
    Linux Guru techieMoe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jaboua
    Wow, Novell should pay you for making commercials!
    I'd be happy just to get a free copy of their newest version to review. Haha. They do it for MadPenguin.
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  5. #5
    Linux User cayalee's Avatar
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    ah...... thats why i can't compile...i dont have make dam suse9.1
    any ideas on where to get it from?
    You know, aliens are going to come to earth in 50 years and kill the hell out of us for DDoSing their networks with this SETI crap
    registered linux user #388463

  6. #6
    Linux Guru techieMoe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cayalee
    ah...... thats why i can't compile...i dont have make dam suse9.1
    any ideas on where to get it from?
    Do you have 9.1 Personal or Professional? If you have Pro you can install it off the CDs using YaST. You can also point YaST to the SuSE repositories (sorry, never done it myself) and pull any packages you need off there. You might also consider using apt.


    BTW - I've added the 9.3 review to my site. It's pretty much the same as the above, with minor tweaks.
    Registered Linux user #270181
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  7. #7
    Linux User cayalee's Avatar
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    cheers, got it off the suse ftp stuff after a little googling.
    You know, aliens are going to come to earth in 50 years and kill the hell out of us for DDoSing their networks with this SETI crap
    registered linux user #388463

  8. #8
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    Ive tried, suse 8.2, 9.1 and 9.2, and I agree with techieMoe. They have earned the right to suck money out of our pockets, and this is coming from guy who hates everything related to men-in-suit money making. Since version 7 they have made vast improvements, rivaling to that of Red Hat or Slackware for example. Suse, Is one of the best operating systems, that have ever been installed on this box.

  9. #9
    Linux Guru bryansmith's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by techieMoe
    I welcome any feedback as to how to play AACs in Linux, if it's even possible.
    techieMoe, if you are talking about the m4a's that iTunes creates, mplayer will play them nicely.

    Bryan
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  10. #10
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    Man...that really made me want to try SuSE...perfectly happy now, but I really like reading your reviews (this one and Ubuntu). Hope to see more
    Operating System: GNU Emacs

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