This blogger has used linux since 2004 when opensuse 9.1 was released, and have used linux on an almost daily basis for the last three years, and throughout that time opensuse has remained the distribution of choice. Others are apparently of a similar opinion given that distrowatch rates it as the fourth most popular distro (out of hundreds) on the twelve month, six month, and three month page-hit rankings. On the 18th of July opensuse 11.3 was released.
What follows are excerpts from three different reviews:
OK… I don’t normally write about my experiences with a new release, I hardly write… So why then will I write about a point release of openSUSE ? Well in short, they raised the bar, yet again!
Onto my experience using 11.3. Flawless… Vodacom and MTN data modems work out of the box using KNetworkManager. With 11.2, I had to install the Vodafone Betavine software to get my new Vodacom usb modem to work, not with 11.3. I can even manage my openvpn connection now with KNetworkManager. OpenOffice is now onto version 3.2.1 and seems to be snappy and fast as usual. Startup and shutdown time have also seemed to improve. KDE 4.4.4 must be one of the best release of KDE yet, at least until the next release
OpenSUSE 11.3 will feature various additions and improvements, although the biggest improvement an end-user will probably be interested in will be the optimizations which the OpenSUSE team had made to ensure that 11.3 will run well on netbooks. According to the team, OpenSUSE 11.3 will provide netbook users with a choice of two user interfaces: the KDE-based Plasma Netbook Workspace and the MeeGo Desktop interface, with the latter being a joint effort between Intel and Nokia.
Also contributing to the distro’s out-of-the-box friendliness are the latest version of the Linux kernel (2.6.34) for greater hardware compatibility, the Nouveau driver for Nvidia graphics cards, and the inclusion of several new applications such as SpiderOak (a cloud-based backup utility), Rosegarden for editing audio files, and support for iPhones, Blackberries and Android-based smartphones.
In terms of aesthetic improvements, If you look at the openSUSE 11.2 M8 gallery from last year, it’s pretty much a good representation of what the latest version still looks like, almost a year later. I didn’t bother with creating a new gallery for that exact reason.
This is not to say that KDE 4.4.4 looks dated — in fact, it’s one of the most attractive and modern UI’s I’ve ever seen on an operating system. But it’s clear that rather than introduce new functionality with this release, the openSUSE as well as the KDE 4 teams focused on stability and performance. The openSUSE product highlights page details some of the more gearhead incremental changes and improvements to this release, if you want to dive in.
All of which looks very positive, but it is the next release of opensuse in March 2011 that really interests this blogger, as the plan is for it to include KDE 4.6, a kernel that will almost certainly include the Btrfs file-system, and Koffice 2.3. In short; it may be the first distro release to justify that elusive moniker “2011 – the year of linux”.
Update – 23/07/10
Just after we came back from our summer vacation I started upgrading a few computers to openSUSE 11.3, and I have to say, I found that to be pleasantly painless.
When I did that with 11.2, I found some major pains, but in 11.3, the “zypper dup” upgrade is officially supported, and “just works”. So far I’ve done four machines, three of them had given me major headache when I upped them to 11.2 (as seen here).
With 11.3, the upgrade simply worked, seamless, even while still using the laptop in case for my daily work!