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Novell News Summary – Part I: OpenSUSE Gets the KDE Vote, OpenDesktop.org-Build Service Integration

Posted in GNU/Linux, KDE, Novell, OpenSUSE at 8:13 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

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Summary: OpenSUSE is seen as the most mature KDE-based distribution (by Tux Radar’s tests), OpenDesktop.org and OpenSUSE Build Service (OBS) meet to reach a commendable milestone, and more news from the past week

NOVELL had to cope with some bad news this week and for OpenSUSE it has been a quiet week, probably as many people go on vacation or engage in more fashionable consumerism. What we were able to find about OpenSUSE is separated as follows:


SJVN has reviewed a variety of candidates for “best” GNU/Linux distribution. Being a SUSE fan, he also included OpenSUSE in his comparison that he published with IDG.

At first glance, there’s little to differentiate between the latest releases of the top Linux distributions: Red Hat’s Fedora 12, Novell’s openSUSE 11.2 and Canonical’s Ubuntu 9.10. They each use the latest releases of open-source applications and are based on recent Linux kernels. Each of the distros also includes open-source applications such as OpenOffice and Firefox. However, a closer look reveals real differences — in fact, each is meant for a different audience.

Underneath the hood, each of the three uses the 2.6.31 Linux kernel, but above that, their differences begin to surface. Fedora and Ubuntu, for example, use GNOME 2.28 (the latest version) for their default desktop, while openSUSE uses KDE 4.3.1.


If you’re a Linux expert, Fedora is for you. If you just want a good, general-purpose desktop for home or work, then openSUSE is your best pick. And if you’re new to Linux, and your computer gets along well with Ubuntu, Ubuntu is still a good choice.

Interestingly enough, some people in the OpenSUSE community insist on making a KDE3-based OpenSUSE. Maybe SUSE Studio will enable them to do this, but speaking for myself, I could not possibly go back to KDE3. KDE4 is a lot better in almost every way. But it’s all about choice at the end.

Tux Radar has just surveyed KDE-based distributions. The winner? OpenSUSE. It seems to make sense.

Rather than providing simple packages for KDE, a real KDE distro is likely to include GUI refinements, usability tweaks, custom themes, artwork and a good selection of KDE applications. It’s also nice when Gnome and GTK applications play happily with their KDE counterparts, especially if a compatible theme has been chosen from them both. KDE-based distros should be able to do this better than simple Gnome desktops.

So, we took eight of the top KDE-focused distros and pitched them head-to-head to find which ones really rock, and which ones just limp along with a vanilla set of packages. Read on!


Our choice: OpenSUSE

As we mentioned at the beginning of this Roundup, the reason why there’s no single-page review of a single distribution is because they’re all just so close. KDE is pretty much KDE whichever distribution you choose, and most users will make the desktop their own within weeks anyway. You could install any of the distributions we’ve looked at and get productive with your usual array of applications within an hour.

OpenSUSE has also just won this new convert, so all in all, there must be a sense of achievement there.

In the last week of November I installed OpenSuse 11.2 on an Acer Asprire1 654ZWLMi. The installation steps went smoothly. However, when the time for the first boot came, where the installation’s configuration takes place, the X server failed to start. The cause was the ATI graphics card. I quickly found others with this problem in the OpenSuse forum, in this thread: OpenSuse 11.2 Black Screen. A combination of the suggestions on the thread solved the problem for me. The XServer was “hot-wired” to work with the ATI card and driver: “sax2 -r -m 0=ati”. The installation continued from were it left over, without any other shortcomings.

It seems that OpenSuse 11.2 installs quite well on a variety of configurations.

OpenSuse also performs very well for my needs. It offers good administration tools (zypper, YAST) and quality technical information on the wiki and the forums. Still though I consider technical articles in the Gentto wikis and forums superior.


Novell/OpenSUSE made no announcements about technical breakthroughs, except the following perhaps (not a press release):

The openSUSE Build Service got a boost today from openDesktop.org. The openDesktop.org network now has a feature that allows contributors to link to packages in the openSUSE Build Service directly from KDE-Apps.org and GNOME-Apps.org. This makes it easier for users to get software that’s packaged for their Linux distro.

This has also been mentioned a couple of times by Zonker [1, 2] and there are other enhancements of interest in OpenSUSE Build Service (OBS).

In terms of technical documentation, there was little which can be described as OpenSUSE specific. Here is something about Cronie and about WebYaST 1.0. The cloning of VMs is demonstrated with OpenSUSE right here and installation of Flash likewise. Masim Sugianto wrote about installation Zimbra on top of OpenSUSE (he did this before, but with previous versions) and how issues were resolved.

OpenSUSE gets some more new packages [1, 2, 3], but these are not terribly important (obscure software or a beta). Sascha is typically writing a lot about them and he has also released this week’s news for OpenSUSE. Maybe it’s the last one until after the holidays.

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