SUSE 9.0 -- a desktop reviewMy experiences installing Linux and some throughts...
I decide to buy the professional edition instead of downloading all cds from ftp.suse.de even if I have a 2MB internet line. You must support companies like Suse or Mandrake which develop linux distributions and buy their package. All versions or patches can be acquired freely and downloaded from their FTP or HTTP mirrors.
If you still hesitate about Linux, I would recommend You to try a Live Eval of Linux. A live eval is a set of applications and a fully functionnal Linux (nearly 2Gb) compressed on 1 CD and It does not require a hard disk to start!
Knoppix live cd, the fastest and first version, highly recommended since Divx, DVD, NTFS drive are recognized as default.
"KNOPPIX is a bootable CD with a collection of GNU/Linux software, automatic hardware detection, and support for many graphics cards, sound cards, SCSI and USB devices and other peripherals. KNOPPIX can be used as a Linux demo, educational CD, rescue system, or adapted and used as a platform for commercial software product demos. It is not necessary to install anything on a hard disk. Due to on-the-fly decompression, the CD can have up to 2 GB of executable software installed on it." from www.knoppix.net
- Gnoppix live cd
"Gnoppix is a linux live cd based upon Debian GNU/Linux 3.0 (woody). It
can be compared to Knoppix but GNOPPIX uses GNOME as desktop
environment." from http://www.gnoppix.org/faq/index.html
Suse http://www.suse.com live cd which did not convince me at all, this bootable cd take too much time and user interaction to initialized itself: more than five minutes are required. Moreover NTFS drive are not recognized.
Mandrake Move live cd was developed to work with a USB stick to save user data permanently. This is another step for Linux, you can take any PC in the world, insert this CD, restart it and have a runnable Linux system and tools you're familiar with.
- Pclinux review
"PCLinuxOS 2K4 Preview 4 is a live Knoppix style cd based on Mandrake
9.2 that runs entirely from a bootable CD. Data on the CD is
uncompressed on the fly, allowing up to 2 GB worth of system and
programs on one CD including a complete X server, KDE 3.1.4 and Gnome 2.4, and large
packages like OpenOffice 1.1final and Mozila 1.5 plus plugins. Since it
runs solely off the CD, PCLinuxOS makes an excellent portable Linux demo
or system rescue disk, but its completeness makes it a good general
purpose desktop as well. PCLinuxOS should work on most modern computer
hardware. Recommended memory to run is 256mb or more."
- GeeXbox turns your PC into a
media player. It boots a version of the Linux kernel, and then uses the
popular mplayer to allow you to play DVDs, VCDs, or regular audio CDs.
It also allows you to play pretty much any multimedia file from your hard drive, and can mount Samba shares as well. Best of all, the ISO is a mere 4.3 megabytes...
Download it from http://www.pclinuxonline.com/pclos/download.html.
One more time, here is my system, The Linux experience you will have is very depending on hardware (and also drivers).....
Mainboard Nvidia Nforce 2 ASUS A7VN8X deluxe|
2 integrated ethernet card
6 USB - 2 Firewire
On Board soundcard
Harddisk IBM 120Go UDMA 133 (primary master)
Harddisk IBM 80Go UDMA 133 (primary slave)
CDR/RW 16x IDE noname
Geforce FX 5600 256Mb MyVivo
Athlon XP 1700 overclocked at 3200 with watercooling
512Mb DDR Dual Channel mode PC3200 (new)
SUSE Linux 9.0 and the KDE 3.1.4 desktop
can be read HERE and my experience with Linux? I am using Cygwin with ssh at work to connect to the HPUX development system, deployment, release management is done with ANT and bash scripts. So I am only a user but I use to write some FAQs in the past when I was using Linux at highschool.
My collegues of XDreamTeam have installed a SUSE on a dual AMD64 Opteron server, and they will write a review soon.
Some sentences you may hear about Linux
Linux user interface is ugly, Xp is better!
Who can still says this?, look at this KDE 3.2 pictures
Moreover you can choose another desktop manager, instead of KDE, a lot of people prefer Gnome.
Suse (or Linux in general) is difficult to use!
Not so much, in fact the tool YAST: "Yet Another Setup Tool" do a great job when dealing with the configuration of your computer, softwares and hardware can be configured in a hierarchical control panel. I found it even better than the equivalent of "Windows world".
What can be disturbing is the organisation of files and program on disk.
I would say that someone who never use Windows before will have the same learning curve and encounter more or less the same difficulties with linux, the only drawback I see is that not so much friends can help you since Linux as a desktop is not so much floating around. Now if you are a Windows user like me (since 10 years), you will encounter some difficulties, I prefer to say "forget some bad Windows habits", like
- Windows make no differences between upper and lower case filename,
but Linux does! which is normal because we also make this
distinction when we write documents.
- Windows use drive letter and this is a pain to maintain especially
when you need to configure software, Linux use a directory base
mapping, symbolic links can be created on files or directories.
Example: 2 documents folders can have different name but point to the same folder:
For example you have a website which is located in a directory "MywebsiteV1.12" and you want to have only one reference in all program that use your homepage (typically in configurations files), all you have to do is to open a terminal and type:
>> ln -s MywebsiteV1.12 httpdocsand use everywhere httpdocs instead of the path to MywebsiteV1.12 in configuration files. The same apply if you want to alias office documents or media files (reference the same file under different names but always use the same target).
This is a lot more powerful than the Window's shortcuts.
- Windows has a limited command line size, and limited number of
- Even on XP, you must sometimes restart your PC because the program
XX has freeze and can not be terminate.
Bill Gates said in an interview: "instability do not come from Windows itself, but merely from applications installed".
For Me, a good OS must protect the user/itself from system crashing, XP isn't good at this, Linux is a little better.
On Unix a # kill -9 pidProcess has a lot of chance to succeed and you can even restart some part of the system, without restarting the whole (restart the network server or the soundcard).
Why choosing Linux now?
Here are the personal reasons why I am switching to Linux, You may find a lot of websites which may present you better arguments:
- Suse (replace with any Linux distribution) comes with a lot of
applications (called: packages) to do almost everything, not all of them
are of the same quality, or can be compared to commercial
applications, but in linux world they do not require any licences!
Some of them are freeware, giftware, shareware through.
- I want to live in a world where, I can search and solve problems
instead of restarting the machine which is for me not a
solution....(I am a developer and like challenges, restarting is
like loosing a race fsor me) yeah as today 16.12.2003 I am FREE
with LINUX, even if this freedom will have a cost (a relative
complexity in usage at the beginning).
- Virus threat, less viri are living in Unix world. At least till
- You can still run Windows and Linux together thanks to a great
multi boot menu (provided by grub or the text based
- Real Multi users system, programs are restricted to user right
- Linux is gaining market place, I do not want to loose connection
with the market reality.
- The community is extraordinary! They develop at a speed never seen
before, even If I am convinced that too much projects are started
and do the same things with more or less success. Look at Mono
(.NET platform on Linux) which already supports 99% of .NET ASP.
Ximian (acquired at the beginning of 2003 by Novell and Suse) will
continue to support the effort of Mono development.
- Linux is modular, there is like 120 distributions, 30 are dying
per year and are replace instantly. Look at Flonix (Linux on a USB
stick 64MB, burning, browsing internet, webserver, GUI), or
("From zero to GNU linux in five Minutes") this is great.
Linux can be run on nearly all
plattforms (portability) and does not require a good machine (Windows
Longhorn will require 1Gb of memory (dixit Microsoft) so
understand 2Gb to work flawlessy).
Linux was first developed for 32-bit x86-based PCs (386 or higher). These days it also runs on
Compaq Alpha AXP
This includes Handled, celullar phone, gaming station like Xbox, PlayStation2, Dreamcast.
- Everything is free, thanks to the
open source community: Apache is the best/most used webserver,
Tomcat the best servlet runner. Of course, the open source
community has to find now a economical model. I am convinced that
developing is like speaking, you can not stop people to talk or think.
- Each days, I enjoy the use of CygWin under
windows (for developing or maintaining this homepage), combining
unix tools like: grep, sed, awk, and others...using ssh is now
natural and I am feeling sad when I must start the poor Windows
- I am using products from the open source coomunity since 3 years
now, at work: mainly the Apache Fundation
and their frameworks, at home a lot of tools: virtual dub,
videolan, GIMP, ... and this all under Windows 2000. I am totaly
satisfied by these tools, so why not replacing also windows by a
totally free and open source system.
- I can install Suse Linux everywhere (on all PC I have, currently 3
desktop) and has no annoying licence scheme or registration
process and even give it to friends as long as I give it for free.
- There is a difference between "choice" and "apparence of choice",
before choosing an OS (Operating System) was easy:
- On one side Windows, which cover more than 90% of the market,
is shipped with new PC, has many softwares of good qualities.
All your friends (normal users, not geeks), companies or your
office, are certainly running under Windows. This is good but
you do not install Windows because it is your choice, you
install it because it is common to install it.
- On the other side, alternatives OS: Mac, Linux,
BeOS (I am also a big fan
of BeOS) are installed by people who want to try
something different, (remember the moto "think different" from
Mac corp). Geek users accept some instabilities because they
want to improve the system, or even help at the source code
level. End users give a try or installed it at home because they
discover it at their universities.
This was before, before mean "Linux without good support of hardware (I remember installing Mandrake 9.0 and fighting 10 minutes to find a USB driver for my Microsoft mouse), without good desktop manager (Now this time is over thanks to KDE and Gnome), without a huge base of applications" Now this is slowly changing, On the server side, there is already a big change, HP, IBM and major actors are now committed to Linux and that is great. Now you have the choice, because now you can hesitate between Linux and Windows and/or even dual boot both (It has never been so easy as today because dual boot is integrated in many Linux distributions)
- On one side Windows, which cover more than 90% of the market, is shipped with new PC, has many softwares of good qualities. All your friends (normal users, not geeks), companies or your office, are certainly running under Windows. This is good but you do not install Windows because it is your choice, you install it because it is common to install it.
SUSE home for the version 9.0 is
SUSE has a page which present 10 reasons to choose Linux Suse http://www.suse.com/us/private/products/suse_linux/i386/10_reasons.html
SUSE has also a FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) page here: http://www.suse.com/us/private/products/suse_linux/i386/faqs/index.html
Choose a file system
If you install Linux, you have to choose the type of file system you want
to use. Common versions are ext2, ext3 or reiserFS. So which one is the
best one for your needs?
A good articles can be found here:
There are great menues everywhere while installing the OS. 10 seconds after having inserted the CD (and choosing a resolution with F2 - default is 1280x1024), the linux Kernel is loaded and guides you through the installation process.
Personnaly what I dislike is the number of "package" (understand application, with strange names and strange revision numbers) given, like 10 tools to do the same task...I know I do not want to see any new Microsoft take the advantage under linux, but why the open source community does not concentrate on GUI. A user will remember that the GUI was horrible even if the program has done its job. That is my point of view. As a developer, I do not care, but as an end user....
I decide to install everything, which took nearly 3 Gb of hard disk. Yes it is much but do not forget that XP take alone 1.2Gb without any office, photoshop, and so on. In this case the installation took 37 minutes, too long? You should also send complains to hard disk manufacturers!
The partition manager computes the best option depending on your configuration, in my case I reserved 80Gb for Suse but on my secondary disk. By default linux want to modify the primary disk (and move windows data if needed), I switch to manual mode and only say click on "use everything" of the second disk. YAST then install then a small graphical boot manager on disk 1. This allows me at boot to start Windows if it is needed.
One page displays a resume of all settings choosen, you may change the value of each section by clicking on the topic title. No technical words at all, You must only choosing some options in selection boxes.
Due to the huge number of Linux tools, you must also deal with 5 CDs or one double face DVD, each disk may copy data during 15 minutes depending on the options you have selected. (I forgot to say that my CD drive is an old 16X). The estimated time to complete installation is quite accurate.
After completing the first disk, the system restarts and continues on CD2, a windows shows you the list of packages copied in realtime, you must just wait (Suse is made of more than 7000 packages or programs).
The system asks then for the root password, You can use the whole
keyboard layout (letters, numbers, special characters) except accent
(éàè) and umlaut (öüë), I choose a highly complex root paswword and
write it down, till I have learned it by heart.
Some words about security:
programs on unix system are running under user privileges, that means a potential virus MAY only destruct your data, and no data of others users (most of Unix virus try to replace some binary executable to gain a higher level access or may install a trojan horse).
The two integrated networks card were detected automatically (mainboard ASUS nforce 2 desluxe has a 3COM and Nvidia 100MB network card),
The system then asks if you want to download new packages and security upgrades from internet. This is higly recommended. No company in the world can ship a perfect code, this is true even in Linux world. I am pretty convinced that bugs handling is better in opensource paradigm, because nearly all users can see the source code (OK, I admit NOT all users are developers, but there is a lot of great skilled developer which in their spare time review code, not to speak about university students which may have a lot of time :-) ). On the other side, take any business company:
- They first try to reproduce the bugs and know how many users are
affected (which is OK),
- Worse, They try to minimize effects resulting of a bug (to avoid
some political problems with clients, but correct the bug as fast
as possible in the background),
- They speak about money all the time (but I am happy to get paid as a developer ;-) ), can we ship in delay? can we not correct this for the next release?
Back to the installation, I chose stand alone, because I do not want to use this linux box as a server. In Mandrake, this is a little better, since you can choose the security level: (Mandrake may activate the firewall for You during the install), or block the installation of some packages which can help a hacker (like ssh, webserver, VNC).
I strongly recommend you to deactivate auto login, security comes always
at a cost, I do not want that somebody simply restarts the computer to
gain access to my data and read private documents: Yes you will have to
enter your password at each restart. Password is limited to 8
The password length is limited to 8 character because the default password encryption methd is set to DES (most compatible but SUSE also allows md5 or blowfish which have no length limit but at the cost of more cpu power and the loss of backward compatibility across other systems or old software). You can change this under Yast - Security and Users Password settings.
Finally the release notes of suse 9.0 are displayed, You can read it to be sure that nothing has changed since the manual printout.
YAST, then dectects your hardware and sets the graphical resolution.
ATTENTION, always use the test button to validate any refresh rate and resolution before applying changes. Otherwise you may end with a black screen at the next logon! If this ever happens, the only way is to reboot and choose "safe mode", logging in as root, go to /etc/X11 and open the file X86Config....or rename the previous backup done by YAST (backup has the name X86Config.YAST). I have also done this mistake...
|repair your X-Confugiration|
Choose "safe mode" in booting menu|
logging using user root
>> cd X11/etcrename the old X86Config to X86Config.old
>> mv X86Config X86Config.oldthen restore the YAST backup if it exist
>> mv X86Config.YAST X86ConfigCTRL-D or type Exit.
Restart the PC.
To manually upgrade my NVidia drivers to the their latest status, I went to www.nvidia.com and downloaded all latest rpms (rpm are compareable to setup.exe in windows world),
To resume: Suse has now a very good and reliable installation system.
YAST is now mature, detection of most hardware is good (at least on my system). I think it is even easier to install SUSE than an equivalent Windows system, mainly because partitioning has a better support in YAST.
How to install RPM
There are many ways to install an RPM file. In fact, choose the one
Note that you must be loogged in as root to install any application.
With Konqueror: click on the RPM filename and after the download completion right click and choose "install package with YAST"
Methhod 2,3,4,5 can be found on this page:
Install divx codecs and drivers
For some legal issues, SUSE can not deliver Divx drivers in the
distribution, but they can be download at
This internet page propose binary version of all major Linux program http://packman.links2linux.org.
One of the best players can be found at http://www.xinehq.de, Caffeine (installed as default) is only a frontend GUI and use the runtime libs from Xine.
You can use one of the following to use some of your windows
and for directX games http://www.transgaming.com/
(even without recompiling the game!!!) and this even without installing
Vmware is a commercial alternative but required a fully licensed windows images.
These applications are installed as default,
Open Office (OO), which can open
nearly all Microsoft Office documents, GUI is not as good as MS Office but
it does the job. Some Powerpoint files made with MS Office have some strange
alignment, but MS Office represents correctly the documents created with OO.
GIMP www.gimp.org a program for manipulating 2D images (like photoshop), runs also on Windows because of the porting of GTK (open source 2D library).
Excerption from www.gimp.org in "about the GIMP":
This is only a very quickly thrown together list of GIMP features. This is only the tip of the iceberg.
Full suite of painting tools including Brush, Pencil, Airbrush, Clone,etc.
Tile based memory managent so image size is limited only by available disk space.
Sub-pixel sampling for all paint tools for high quality anti-aliasing
Full alpha channel support
Layers and channels
A Procedural Database for calling internal GIMP functions from external programs as in Script-fu
Advanced scripting capabilities
Multiple Undo/Redo (limited only by diskspace)
Virtually unlimited number of images open at one time
Extremely powerful gradient editor and blend tool.
Load and save animations in a convenient frame-as-layer format.
Transformation tools including rotate, scale, shear and flip.
File formats supported include gif, jpg, png, xpm, tiff, tga, mpeg, ps, pdf, pcx, bmp, and many others.
Load, display, convert, save to many file formats.
Selection tools including rectangle, ellipse, free, fuzzy, bezier and intelligent.
Plug-ins which allow for the easy addition of new file formats and new effect filters.
Over 100 plugins already available.
Supports custom brushes and patterns
Much, much more!
Playing DVD, MP3, all tasks can de done under Suse without having any licence!!!! I recommend you to donate some money to the authors if you like their programs (so that they can pay their homepage hosting at least).
Opera is a religion. All those features, mouse gestures, keyboard shortcuts, embedded mail client, drag-around panels, skins, GREAT standards-support, it's so fast, easyness of bookmarking, the "magic-wand"... and the list goes on and on...It is not open source but I like it so much.
I am a big fan since 1991 of Norton Commander (I was using NC 1.0 on floppy disk), In windows I am using Windows Commander a lot to order million of files.
Forums and Help
Suse vs Redhat
http://www.usalug.org/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?p=8161: Step by step install of SUSE 9.0 using FTP (non need to download and burn the iso's)
http://homepages.ulb.ac.be/~secollet/: Linux on HP Compaq NX7000 (that's my notebook at work)
This page is a part of http://www.waltercedric.com.
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