Tuesday, May 16, 2006

SuSE 10.1 - Avoiding the Fedora Trap

Just installed SuSE 10.1 on my Latitude D600... and all in all it's a great release. It's really deserving for a "SuSE 11" moniker, but I have a feeling they're waiting on that until KDE 4.0.

Gone is a lot of SuSE-centric software with new, more standardized set of hardware detection and system management packages. SuSE used to need their own hardware detection monitor, but with KDE's hardware abstraction layer coming into fruition and packages such as KNetworkManager, you don't need it. It's a nice shift, as this allows you to have more integrated and widely accepted tools.

Zen, however... that's a different situation.

SuSE's YaST Online Update and Software Management has been replaced by Novell's Zen software management, which while good in concept, absolutely sucks in practice. While it's nice that it monitors any package repository you want (such as PackMan or Guru) for updates, it takes for freaking ever for it to load and install packages. FOR. FREAKING. EVER.

It's nice being on a fresh new install. Every release that comes out I swear to myself "I'm going to keep a pristine factory install - no beta packages." Then a new KDE release comes out that I must have, and I say "well, I'll just try the new KDE out." Then I figure "since I'm already non-stock with the unofficial KDE packages, I might as well try this other hack out..." and then a runaway train of applications and hacks leaves me with a mutt of a system.

So now I'm starting with a clean(ish) slate. I'm trying to break myself of the console habit - so I'm using more GUI tools to diagnose stuff. I never realized how handy KSystemlog and KDE System Guard was... quite nice.

10.1 really is a fantastic OS - encrypted filesystems are even handled sensibly with the boot GUI doing just a brief break to prompt for the password. Partitions are now broken apart into root and home directories, and swap & extended portions are sensible. The desktop itself has little clutter, and less stuff starts at boot time and desktop startup. Nice 'n' clean.

The visor kernel module for my Samsung i500 still renders my keyboard useless, however. For some reason syncing via USB causes the laptop to stop receiving input from the keyboard altogether and then can't shut down. I'm relegated to IrDA only, which is sloooooooooooow and an overall pain in the butt. I am working on using Kitchensync in KDE, however, which is quite nice. In theory it should render my custom hackish sync script unnecessary, which would get rid of an extra step and hopefully allow for a two-way sync between the i500 and Exchange.

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