Saturday, July 17, 2010

openSuSE 11.3 - And The Rage Returns

I really want to love openSuSE. I really, truly do. Things were going so well between us... I was very happy with openSuSE 11.2, so much so that I installed 11.3 the same day it dropped. Things looked even more polished - no missing icons, no segfaults, everything operated cleanly and worked well. I went to install my favorite SuSE applications... and they simply weren't there anymore.

First let's discuss SaX2. I love SaX2 and how it makes XOrg configuration so automagic. Yet SaX2 is no longer provided with SuSE distributions. The openSuSE team did announce that this was happening, supposedly because "automatic configuration and dynamic reconfiguration mechanisms have been developed such that today the tasks that SaX2 was able to do are done fully automatically on the fly and can be modified from within a desktop session." They might have a point... I do use nivida-settings more than SaX2 now. Oh well... I'm willing to let it go.

However one thing I wasn't able to let go of is SCPM. It went missing without so much as a trace and a profile management package can't be found in any repo for openSuSE 11.3. This was a major product differentiators for ALL SuSE distros, and for it to be missing is a huge shame. Now it is even harder for me to switch between configuration profiles for presentations/home/work, as they take wildly different network configurations, display configurations, peripheral configurations, printer configs, on and on and on... The omission of SCPM is pretty grave.

I went to find solace in my Really Slick Screensavers. I added my missing KDE4 screensaver entries and expected them to work as they always have. Then I ran across yet another omission - the KDE xscreensaver compatibility applications were missing as well. This omission was even more curious, as they are missing in the binary packages but are present in the source packages. I re-built the RPM from source, re-installed it and the xscreensaver compatibility layer appeared. Odd... and now I'll have to re-do that step with every patch & upgrade.

I don't know what to think of 11.3 yet. On one had it works extremely well and the longer release cycle appears to have served them well. Still, I can't help but feel that some things were omitted to simplify the packaging of the distribution... and that could be a bad omen of things to come.