Monday, December 15, 2008

Why Wrestle with X When You Can SaX2 It?

I don't give SuSE a free ride - I've been frustrated up to the quitting point with them for some releases, but then happily optimistic with others. Now that KDE 4 and NVIDIA work together well now (KDE had some compositing issues with NVIDIA binary drivers & newer hardware) I'm finding that especially the cutting-edge factory builds of KDE 4.1.3 are working fantastically well.

Now that KDE 4.2 is just around the bend, the openSUSE team have been doing a fantastic job of backporting 4.2 functionality into openSUSE 11.0's KDE distribution. I didn't realize how many things SuSE was backporting and offering to its userbase early until I spoke with some Kubuntu users. They were asking me how I got SuperKaramba for KDE 4 working... how I was able to extend folder view to my entire desktop... how I was able to get my desktop to rotate on a cube... where all these screensavers come from... why didn't my desktop have redraw artifacts... why I wasn't seeing texture tearing during compositing... how I got the new power management utils...

I didn't have much of a reason why my laptop worked and theirs didn't. They talked about xorg.conf tweaks, and I just shrugged and said I had SaX2 and nvidia-settings take care of all the details for me, including input devices. When they asked how I got all these 4.2 features - with a stable installation no less - I just shrugged again. Seems like the KDE devs at SuSE were doing such a fantastic job keeping me current & backporting new features that I didn't even notice.

We talked a bit about YaST2, how it had changed for the better with recent versions, about how SaX2 means never having to crack open xorg.conf again, how so much stuff comes "for free (as in effort)" with openSUSE. Some of the stuff, such as the extra xscreensavers or the Really Slick Screen Savers, were things I kinda had to piece together on my own but by and large things just worked out of the box.

My shrugs ended up being a better selling point than any technical arguments I could have made. One started downloading openSUSE 11.1 RC1 into a virtual machine right away, the other was going to download the live CD when he got home. It will be interesting to see what their impressions are and if it "just works" for them as well.

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