Thursday, 10 March 2011

openSUSE 11.4 - not just disappointing but the final nail in the coffin!

So its out and already being labelled as the best openSUSE release ever. The same was said about 11.3 and every other previous release...

In terms of visual appearance the openSUSE team have done an excellent job, the new spash screen, desktop wallpaper and installer together have a very consistent and professional look. It gives the impression of a quality product.

Don't judge a book by its front cover!

These minor elements aside, I am disappointed with openSUSE 11.4.The previous release, 11.3 got a reputation for being the worst distribution for nvidia users and you would have thought they would not make the same mistake twice.

32-bit nvidia users, this is for you - https://bugzilla.novell.com/show_bug.cgi?id=648718

Monitoring the forums, there could even be a nasty surprise for AMD/ATi users. Other issues surfacing include problems resuming from suspend/hibernate, borked systems when using the upgrade feature and lack of sound.

In any event I am a 64-bit nvidia user so the 32-bit nvidia bug is of no relevance to myself but I am still disappointed with the performance of 11.4.

The boot speed is slower than 11.3 and KDE seems to have a long delay at start up making the system unresponsive. I have tested this on 3 different systems, all exhibit the same behaviour.

Adding a new Wi-Fi connection using knetworkmanager seems a bit buggy, logging out and back in KDE resolved this issue.

With concern to the system response, KDE 4.6 in 11.4 just doesn't feel as fast as it should be. Maybe I am being unfair when judging performance as a result of using KDE 4.6 in Gentoo but on the very same system the difference is a world apart.

Memory consumption in this release has also has taken a dive for the worse, its not as friendly as previous releases.

Maybe after a few updates 11.4 will become more refined but it hasnt been as polished as I was hoping for.

Its also quite interesting that they decided to ship 11.4 with a beta version of Firefox 4.

Personally I am struggling to think of a reason to use openSUSE 11.4. If you are a die hard KDE fan Gentoo will provide you with a blazing experience and whilst I have not tried Arch I am sure it will be better than openSUSE 11.4.

And if you are a GNOME fanatic, Fedora, Ubuntu and Debian provide a leaner and meaner experience.

Sure enough not everyone wants to spend the time setting up Gentoo / Arch but openSUSE comes with a lot of bloat and is the most bloated distribution I have used. Holding itself out to be a multipurpose distribution, you could say this is by design.

At the end of the day I am just an ordinary average desktop user looking for a Linux based operating system that will satisfy my simplistic needs. I was drawn to openSUSE because of KDE 3.5 and my great experience with version 10.3. Despite such a great experience I have never liked YaST, the idea of a central application to manage and administer the system is a great but its implementation (via YaST) seriously sucks. I can use YaST but I find the layout illogical. Its often a case of tab after tab, scroll here and scroll there.

Setting up a Samba server, modifying the firewall rules, managing a network card, it is all easier without YaST.

Since then I have never been completely satisfied with openSUSE and have spent a lot of time distrohopping back and forth between openSUSE and other distributions.

Well openSUSE 11.4 is the final nail in the coffin.

The reason I distrohop back and forth from openSUSE is because there is always something better. But if you are wondering why openSUSE in the first place, 10.3 was the distribution that changed my view of Linux. It opened my eyes and made me realize that Linux on the desktop was a perfectly viable and real option.

You could say I continued using it simply out of loyalty.

Unfortunately it is time to accept the fact that openSUSE is not for me.

If I want a GNOME distribution I will always pick Fedora. If I want to use KDE with the best user experience possible then Gentoo delivers. If I want to setup a dedicated samba server, FreeNAS. If I want a low maintenance distribution for a family member, Ubuntu.

And that's the end of that, the hammers down and the nails are in.