back to article OpenSUSE 11.3 delivers spit, polish and niggles

The latest version of openSUSE hit final code last week and is not due for official release until July 15, but The Reg is here to give you a tour of its pros and cons. The free operating system has been somewhat maligned for its association with Novell, the Linux company that partnered with Microsoft and is now touting itself …


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  1. Marcelo Rodrigues

    A minor correction

    OpenSuse (and Suse) have been using rpm packages since a long time. My first contact with Suse was with the 9.3 version (after Mandrake bought Conectiva), and it was already RPM based.

    The "one click install" does exactly this. The problem you faced was, probably, because this is RC - and the repository isn't finished yet. On my system (OpenSuse 11.2) the MP3 part comes from the Packman repository.

    But, alas, this isn't an oficial repository - so it takes some time to get all the packages compiled for the new version.

    I'm testing 11.3 now, and so far it's great. I found a bug on the Xen - but that's RC for some reason. :D

    1. Rob Beard


      It's been using RPM even longer than that. Back in 2000 I bought SUSE 6.2 which was boxed and came with in-depth manuals. Shame they don't do it like that these days.

      Still I find online resources and man pages to pretty much suffice.

      Not so sure about the complaint about MP3s, IIRC on Ubuntu I managed to get MP3 codecs installed with 2 or 3 clicks and a password prompt, sure not single click but not a biggie, and I'm sure someone told me that Mint has a whole load of codecs included as part of the default installation.


  2. Jude Bradley


    Sadly, my love affair with Suse, since Suse 7, ended last year after changing to Kubuntu.

    Hassle-free installation of codecs (how cool was that!) and instant Nvidia drivers without

    adding repros.

    Only relalised how good it was when I tried going back to OpenSuse 11.2 and spend way too much time trying to install gnomad2. It took over 40 minutes instead of 5, and upgrade from 9.10 to 10.04 was really sweet.

    1. OSC

      It would be nice...

      ... to never have to encounter the unpaid(?) hordes that cannot wait to tell us how great Ubuntu is or how they really like Gnome.

      As the first post mentions 1-click install does what it says on the tin.

      On my spare machine I'm currently using openSUSE 11.3 and yes the repros are not ready yet, but yes for the first time ever my MSI mega book worked (Realtek wi-fi) on install without any fiddling around. I'm also using and liking KDE SC 4.5 RC1. BTW did I mention that KOffice 2.2 is now good to go?

      I have no idea what any other distro is like, I've been there since S.u.S.E 6.1 and it's all been fine for me. Everything is getting better and slicker - no doubt across the entire distrowatch spectrum.

      1. JEDIDIAH

        It would be better still...

        ...if tech "journalists" didn't try to tell us that things don't exist in Linux in general when they certainly exist in Ubuntu. Not being a Suse user myself, I can't tell the "journalist" that he's full of it when it comes to Suse. I'll gladly do that for Ubuntu though.

        It looks like Suse has taken a page from Ubuntu's playbook.

        That's a good thing. That's the whole "chaos and diversity" thing working it's magic.

      2. Rob Beard
        WTF? would be even nicer if...

        We didn't get posts moaning about other distros being more popular. At the end of the day we have a choice. Some people like SuSE, some like Fedora, some like Ubuntu, some like Debian, Gentoo or Slackware.

        The fact is we generally don't have to pay for any of this other than the cost of a download and blank media (or if you're on a slow connection it's only generally a few quid off someone on eBay or a company selling official/unofficial media).

        Like many folks I personally use Ubuntu, although in the past I've used Suse (most recently I ran 9.3 for a while, and bought 6.2 years back), and I've also tried Fedora, Gentoo, Debian and RedHat. It just happens that Ubuntu fits my needs perfectly, doesn't mean I don't occasionally try other distros though to see if I prefer the way things are done.

        Maybe rather than having this fighting between distros we just help others who want to give it a try?

        Heck, don't just limit it to Linux, why not OpenSolaris, NetBSD or FreeBSD too?

        At the cost of a download and with hardware becoming cheap enough/powerful enough to run things like VirtualBox/VMWare/Parallels etc then it's not so scary trying something new these days.


  3. Jeff F.

    Thanks for that

    I appreciate the rundown on alternate O/S. I know it takes some time to load it all up and see what works and what doesnt. Keep us up to date on new reasons to switch. Thanks

  4. Anonymous Coward

    Here We Go Again

    "However, there are lingering niggles and some further polish is needed"

    You mean it is the usual low-quality Linux Distro we expect from SuSE/Novell lately ?


    1. Michael H.F. Wilkinson
      Thumb Down


      I run 11.2 on my notebook after serial crashes and freezes with Ubuntu. It may be great when it works, but if something is wrong it is MUCH harder to fix. I never changed my big desktop to Ubuntu: the things wont boot in 9.10 because I have an NVidia GPU feature, and 4 crashes in one evening whilst working on 9.04 cured me from Ubuntu for a while. OpenSUSE is a very decent product, especially because it allows me sufficient control.

      I might consider switching to Fedora, but things like integration of facebook and twitter into the OS as promoted by Ubuntu make me steer very clear of it indeed.

      1. Anonymous Coward

        "... Integration of facebook and twitter into the OS..."

        That would be correct if you have a particularly warped definition of what an 'OS' is...

      2. Chika

        Can't fault that

        The oldest version I still run is 11.0, the youngest 11.2. I'm still not happy enough with KDE4 to switch away from KDE3, even though 11.2 made it that bit harder to get it as it is now only available from an "unsupported" repository (actually, it appears that it does still get some support) but other than that and a few niggles, I've never really had any problems. Yes, I did try GNOME, but I suppose I've been using KDE for far too long.

        As far as crashes go, I can't remember the last time my big system crashed, though my netbook was prone to a crash or three until I realised that there was something wrong with the installation of OpenOffice, and a complete strip out of that package and reload fixed that. 11.0 only survives with me because of the ancient Intel graphics system that exists on one specific laptop that the support broke for back at 11.1.

        The 11.2 machine I have was only built a few weeks ago and would seem to be an ideal candidate for a quick "zypper dup", though I'm tempted to wait for a while. If it is true of M$ that you should wait for the first service pack for the release bugs to be ironed out, it can be similarly said that Linux should be handled with care straight out of the tin, whatever the distro is. Having said that, and providing that I can get KDE3 to continue for now (until I see a version of KDE4 that I am completely happy with which isn't quite yet), I may give it a go some time soon.

    2. Chemist

      Re : Here We Go Again

      Well I've installed 11.2/KDE on 5 systems since its release and it's been ROCK SOLID stable on all of them. Installs have been fast and easy.

  5. Patrick O'Reilly


    I was wearing my old aKademy 2006 t-shirt last night and was only thinking this morning how KDE had done from rock solid to crazy cousin since KDE4.

    I've never thought Kubuntu does KDE justice, so must give OpenSUSE 11.3 a go.

  6. STurtle

    One-click always worked for the last distros for me

    One-click codec installation has always worked for me for the last few years. Just use the one-click install provided by the openSuse community pages, not the official openSuse pages.

    Then again, I always installed Suse roughly a month after its release, which might have helped to avoid one or the other hiccup.

  7. Anonymous Coward

    "Hassle-free installation of codecs"

    "Hassle-free installation of codecs" (JB @ 08:07) vs "The truth is that no Linux distro can make installing MP3 codecs a one-click process — and it's probably high time they stopped trying." (base article).

    I'm with the article here (in general).

    Codec installation can't be one click (though by the sound of it it could be two or three clicks: do you want to add a community repo, please enter the root password, maybe).

    Any Linux distro that bundles loads of codecs of dubious legality (they know who they are) is heading for trouble with the lawyers once the lawyers or their clients see an opportunity to make a few K$. Sticking your head in the sand doesn't change that reality.

    The "let the user do it" approach, while marginally less convenient for the user the first time a codec is needed, reduces the chances of lawyers getting involved. Which can only ever be A Good Thing.


      The naysayers are clueless

      > Codec installation can't be one click (though by the

      > sound of it it could be two or three clicks: do you want

      > to add a community repo, please enter the root password,

      > maybe).

      Sure it can. It already is, despite what naysayers like to say.

      A series of confirmations is not rocket surgery. It's certainly MUCH MUCH

      easier than trying to sort out the same crap with Windows 7 MCE or dealing

      with the inherent NIH limitations of Quicktime. When compared to the other

      options, an automated process sprinkled with a few dialog boxes and perhaps

      a privelege escalation (no, letting things run amok by themselves is not a good

      idea) is positively sublime.

  8. A J Stiles

    Less with the MP3 patent FUD

    "The truth is that no Linux distro can make installing MP3 codecs a one-click process — and it's probably high time they stopped trying."

    Not true. The patents attempting to block this are null and void in the UK and EU, and have begun to expire in any countries where they may ever have been valid.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Down

      Except ...

      Linux is developed and distributed worldwide, by individuals and commercial entities in many jurisdictions. Including material that's illegal in a jurisdiction could effectively shut down a potential source of users, developers and funding. Which is why we leave the potentially troublesome content out until after the "This may be illegal ... I confirm that it's OK" type of dialogue - that way it's the responsibility of the individual user rather than the developers or distributors.

  9. Anonymous Coward

    Advice for El Reg

    Stop bloody testing RELEASE CANDIDATE Linux distributions and then moaning about a few remaining niggles... That's the point of the Release Candidates!

    Want to be productive? file a bloody bug report

    Now..if the problem remains after the distro is actually released, any comments about quality are fair game, but openSUSE 11.3 isn't released for a week so... Review FAIL

    1. Anonymous Coward

      It isn't a beta

      Finding niggles and reporting them in a release candidate is fair game. An RC distro should be one that is considered fully tested and complete. The purpose of the RC is to allow further and independent intensive testing to ensure there are no show stoppers - after all, it would be unreasonable to expect the developers to try out every combination of hardware and peripherals found in the wild. This is much more important for commercial software distributed via the traditional off-line methods as it can prevent an embarassing amount of DVDs and packaging being produced and then hastily recalled.

      If there was anything known to be incomplete, the release should have been a further beta (or just held up until ready).

      I welcome these previews as an aid in deciding what deserves to be further investigated. To not report problems because it isn't the actual release version wouldn't be doing anybody any favours.

      Sorry... Review of review FAIL

  10. Jacqui

    SUSE support

    I will not recommend suse until thier commercial support stops thinking that "reboot at midnight" is a fix (not a workaround but a fix - ticket closed!) for a system critical memory leak on a 24x7 business critical database server.

    Money grabbing clueless f**kwits.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      The meal was lovely, thanks!


      >>>I will not recommend suse until thier commercial support stops

      >>>thinking that "reboot at midnight" is a fix (not a workaround but a

      >>>fix - ticket closed!) for a system critical memory leak on a 24x7

      >>> business critical database server.

      >>>Money grabbing clueless f**kwits.

      I bet you're one of those people who chews through an awful meal at a restaurant and smiles sweetly with a "great thanks" when the waiter asks if everything is OK. You probably leave a guilt-tip, too.

      ...and then bitch about the whole experience once you've left.

      How about you complain to the support people if you're not happy? Don't let them close the ticket. Ask them to escalate it. Speak to their manager. Reopen the ticket. Log a new ticket complaining about the last ticket.

      I've just read a post on the Amazon forums from someone moaning about defective goods. Turns out they'd not even contacted Amazon for a replacement - just whined and whinged endlessly on the forums.

      Wasn't you, was it?

      1. Chris Parsons Bronze badge

        Don't blame you for posting anonymously

        after all, you're making quite a lot of aggressive assumptions there, aren't you, sonny?

  11. Anonymous Coward

    One Click Codecs

    One click media appurtenances are now commonplace. AbsoluteLinux 13.2 is an little known example. Ubuntu and its clones are another. Pardus simply works out of the box - no clicks required.

    Bye the bye - testing a release candidate is not the equal of testing the final release.

    SuSE was an excellent distro while it remained German. There was SuSE, Slack, Fedora and Mandrake. And Corel.

    Once SuSE went through the Novell process, the Zimian process, the Gnome process, the Mono process and the MS process - nothing of SuSE remained.

    Redhat has the action on the commercial side. Novell is failure, not simply failed. And they have had the audacity to stand before people and declare that others have failed to "give back" or "contribute" to the Community. Apparently, that is coded talk for "take MS bucks" and pretend SCO had a case.

    During the Novell era, openSUSE has never had a package updater that works out of the box. Search the forum as it bears witness. It is not worth the download effort.

    1. Chemist

      "Novell era, openSUSE has never had a package updater that works out of the box"

      Nonsense. I

      1. Chika
        Black Helicopters

        Bull detector alert!

        Actually, it works pretty well. The software management option in YaST as well as the command line "zypper" work very well. Perhaps you would care to give some detail to this accusation? Otherwise this is just so much more FUDware.

    2. Marcelo Rodrigues

      Utterly nonsense

      "During the Novell era, openSUSE has never had a package updater that works out of the box. Search the forum as it bears witness. It is not worth the download effort."

      Wrong. It had it's problems (notably 10.0 and 11.0 - if I'm not mistaken), but it works very well. They stopped changing the resolver (the problematic versions were those wich used the new resolver), and now everything is ok.

  12. Matthew 17

    Linux is always almost perfect

    I've been using Suse since about version 6.3 as it was the first desktop distro that made sense to someone like me coming from a Windows only background. I still like it but there are always a handful of little glitches that never get resolved. I've thought about switching to Ubuntu but don't get on with the package management side of it and the layout of the repositories is nothing short of baffling.

    Fedora still has the awful installer that quits if the slightest thing isn't right forcing you to start again.

    I preferred the days of KDE3.4 though as it was the easiest to get going and caused the least amount of hassle, with Gnome and KDE4 I always have problems with multimedia and with instability. The whole thing seemed a little more solid back then.

    That said I still think that OpenSUSE is the nicest on the desktop as it gives you enough toys out of the box to work with, can't really see me changing my desktop (and CentOS for the server).

    I'd still rather pay a bit and run OSX though, but as this is free I can't grumble.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's not you, it's me

    I'm sorry. I was a huge Suse fan from way back before they were acquired by Novell. Like everything else Novell ever touched, it turned to crap. After trying many distros, I found Suse to be the best desktop user experience around. But I switched to Ubuntu somewhere around 5.04 and never looked back. For me, the dealbreaker was the MS covenant. Since then, I've been unable to make myself even try Suse again. So sorry, Novell/Suse/openSuse, it's not you, it's me. Or maybe it is you. Yeah, it probably is.

  14. Lan ser


    I am a long time suse user going back to 6 and have inbetween times tried all the other major distros and if we're honest there is very little to choose between buntu fedora and opensuse, kbuntu is nowhere near as polished a kde experience as opensuse, opensuse's gnome experience is similar.

    As for the microsoft/novell bs opensuse distanced itself form that very quickly and today ubuntu is more monofied than opensuse.

    So leave the partisanship crap behind and just rejoice that we have the freedom to choose whichever distro we prefer.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    wouldn't it be sweet...

    ... if the brains at Canonical, OpenSuse & Mandrake could work together to provide a definitive desktop Linux experience?

    We have these three big players (and a host of other lesser players), effectively doing the same damn thing.

    If there's one thing Linux on the Desktop is still lacking (although less so these days), it's commercial quality software. The kind of software business users depend on, the kind of software home users depend on.

    Then there's games.

    So where am I going with this?

    If these players can work together and show there's significant market share, the commercial software developers will jump on-board.

    Who knows, perhaps we'll see Adobe apps running on Linux?

    The sad fact is, the Linux market is too fragmented - perhaps for the hardcore Linux geeks, this is the way they like it, but for the rest of us, it means there's less quality *desktop* applications, which ultimately means most of us still boot up windows, or have switched to Mac.

  16. Warren
    Thumb Down

    6.4<Good SuSE<8.0

    For anyone thinking about the history of SuSE, they had their golden years prior to Novell.

    since 6.4 they preferred KDE but always supported Gnome and the small Xwindow guis.

    Yast install was always ahead of the pack, but for the Novell years have ruined their principles, directly after 8.0, we lost mp3 and DVD operations out of the box, and for some reason, the very same 17" monitor I was rolling modelines for in 6.4 cannot be supported at 1280x1024 in 10.0/11.0 all of a sudden and can only run a widescreen format 1280x800 or something. Some progress! It's clear that the patent agreement with Novell and M$ had it's impact.

    That's a real shame as SuSE were the first and favorite haven from windows world, but now they're in the same class.

  17. Doogie Howser MD

    Ubuntu 10.04 kicks openSUSE's ass!

    I work for a Novell partner, and I don't like openSUSE or SLED. Having used Ubuntu 10.04, Novell/SUSE need to take a long hard look at what Canonical have done with limited resources and hang their head in shame.

    Where openSUSE is buggy, bloated and suffers from a lack of project focus and terminal infighting (GNOME vs KDE crew), Ubuntu turns out a lean, clean and polished distro that takes ideas that work from other places and make them work in a Linux environment (Software Centre with App Store type functionality, online updates, free (and paid for) Ubuntu One for cloud based backups, Nice toolbar integration for Facebook, PlaywithLinux etc. All slick, quick and reliable. Oh, and free.

    10.04 has really raised the bar for me.

  18. techfreak

    Yet another linux desktop ...

    ... and that's a good thing. With Windows or OSX, there's only one kind. With linux, we get to pick what works best for us. Our mileage may vary. I'd like to read a review of a non-free linux distro to see how it stacks up for codecs, display drivers and wi-fi adapters ... maybe they're worth shelling out some bucks.

    1. Robert E A Harvey

      Mandriva is paid for

      I've been a paid-for mandriva user in the past, and was very very happy with the product.

      What drove me to despair was their barrow-boy business model. You'd buy version 'n' of something from the web site, and 2 days later be bombarded with emails offering verison 'n+1' for exactly the same amount of money. Then every couple of weeks they would have a sale of something-or-other, including version 'n' at half what you had just paid. I was getting around 3 emails a day from them, until I invoked the spam filtering.

      I now use openSuse 11.1 and Ubuntu. Will probably rationalise on one of them.

  19. Jay 3

    SLED blows goats

    SLED is horrible..... and YAST, don't even get me started on that steaming pile of shite!

    Novell should just sell to Red Hat and be done with it. Then we will have a quality product to deploy.

    1. Pinkerton

      Men who stare at goats...

      I'm no fan of SLED but am very happy with openSUSE.

      When I was a humble know-nuffin' newbie new to Linux, it was YaST that sold openSUSE to me. I think without YaST I'd have gone back to Windows.

      You see, YaST hid all that nasty command-line stuff from me until my confidence grew enough to experiment with text-based ways of doing things.

      With YaST I could partition disks, install software, sod about with graphics, networking, sound, LDAP, NFS, SAMBA, NTP and all sorts. To my Windows mindset everything I needed to configure my PC was all in one place, just like Control Panel.

      If it wasn't for that steaming pile of shite, YaST, I'd still be using Windows.

      Go figure!

  20. Matthew 17

    Never understood the hostility against YaST

    It was the tool that first attracted me to the distro in the first place, having to manually edit config files to change stuff was a pain especially when I was new to Linux. Sure if you just want to install a single package or two it's a bit OTT but you'd use Zypper for those sort of things which I find is much more verbose and easy to use over the likes of Apt or Yum.

    But for things like hardware management, adding in static routes, extra IP's, configuring the firewall etc then I'd much rather use that interface than edit the files by hand. I also liked that you could access YaST in text form over SSH so didn't need to forward X to get to it.

  21. Anonymous Coward


    "Given that the latest openSUSE includes the Fedora-developed open Nouveau driver to improve support for Nvidia graphics cards (shipping with Fedora 13), an RPM-based package manager, and a similar commercial derivative coming from it, the openSUSE project is clearly taking some inspiration from the Fedora project."

    News flash: Nouveau is in the Kernel now. Obviously ANY distribution based on a recent kernel will have "inspiration from the Fedora project." It's just a fact that Fedora development goes upstream (as *should* be true for any distribution).

    Stop trying to make more of it than what it is. The much of the inspiration is derived from the larger open source ecosystem. The inclusion of recent kernels and the use of rpm are only a small part of what makes openSUSE what it is. Also, it's not like Fedora doesn't take advantage of upstream improvements in various projects made by developers from other distributions.

  22. johnh3

    Home users.

    For a home user I feel OpenSUSE are little difficult to deal with . But maybe its developed for companys? For thoose who like the KDE desktop I must say I have not tryed any better distributions than PCLinuxOS 2010.7 and Pardus 2009.2

    They both have all mediacodecs pre-installed and "works out of the box"

    So no problem to see a DVD movie for example.

    I have tryed most of the top distros at Distrowatch list, but at the end I find them the best for the KDE desktop at the moment.

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