Archive for the ‘opensuse’ Category

Ubuntu’s nice, but I’m headed back to OpenSuse

July 7, 2008 2 comments

I ran Ubuntu for about a month.  It is a very nice distribution.  Everything worked very smoothly.  I had no real problems with it.  I’m not going to use it any more.  There is nothing at all wrong with it.  On the other hand, there aren’t any real advantages over OpenSuse, so I’m going back to what’s more familiar.  If any Windows users ask me what Linux flavor they should try, now that I have actually used it I am comfortable recommending Ubuntu as a good choice.

OpenSuse 11 is excellent.  They have continued to develop a very good distribution, and here again everything pretty much just works.   The installation is very smooth.  The Network Manager for KDE is improved, as is the update manager.

One difference that threw me for a few minutes was configuring Xinerama across two screens on my Dell D620.  In Ubuntu, the key is to install the nVidia drivers, and use the nVidia tool to configure X.  On OpenSuse, you need the nVidea drivers, but you have to use SaX2 (accessible through YaST) to configure X.  Once you do this, its very smooth and easy to get working.  Just to be clear, the display works fine without the proprietary drivers, but to get the best use out of multiple screens you need the drivers from nVidia.

Once or twice a week I go into the office for meetings.  Its not unusual for me to unplug the monitor to carry my laptop to a conference room, and plug it into a projector without changing the configuration at all.  OpenSuse handles this without problems.  Ubuntu just wouldn’t do it satisfactorily at all.  I didn’t take the time to figure out how to get it to work, although I’d guess there’s a way to get the results I wanted.  It didn’t happen “out-of-the-box” like it does with OpenSuse.

I initially ran KDE4 under OpenSuse 11.  It looks very nice, but it is not ready for real use yet, at least not for me.  It is still lacking most of the options that make me really like KDE.  Panel configuration is simplistic and just not ready yet.  Fortunately, OpenSuse has packaged things so you can easily install KDE3 beside KDE4 and choose which to run.  Installing KDE3 was as easy as loading the package manager and picking KDE3 from the package patterns list.  Now I can check back on KDE4’s progress as it gets better.  KDE3 is just so good, they are going to have to do a lot more work on KDE4 to bring it up to being close to as good.  Until then, I’ll choose flexibility and customizability over the extra coolness of KDE4. KDE4 has a lot of promise.  It is going to be beautiful when its ready.

A few direct comparisons between OpenSuse running KDE and Ubuntu running Gnome (not attempting to differentiate which are distro and which are desktop environment features).  Ubuntu’s printer and network configuration is easier.  I like Ubuntu’s package management tools better than YaST, but both work quite well and are fairly easy to use.   The odd difference between the Ubuntu package manager on the normal menu vs the one on the system configuration menu is strange, but both worked for me fine.  I like the ease of YaST’s patterns, which I mentioned made it easy to install KDE3.  Its been quite a while since either of these distros has failed to resolve a dependency for me without having to go hunting.  Overall, I like YaST over the configuration tools in Ubuntu.  It is nicely organized and consistent, and they keep adding more stuff to it.  The real reason for my preference might be familiarity.  YaST has been improving steadily, but has been consistent in its look and feel for several versions.  The one thing I really don’t like to use YaST for is to configure Apache.

The short answer to a comparison between Ubuntu and OpenSuse is that there is no clear winner.  They are both excellent.  They both install and run without a lot of headaches.  They both perform well on my hardware, and they both found and configured all of my hardware without difficulty (including various USB devices I plug and unplug at whim).  The few differences are minor, and for the most part (other than the issue with unplugging the monitor and plugging it into a different display, which Ubuntu didn’t like), it comes down to a matter of taste more than it does functionality.

Both of them beat Windows soundly, on features, customization, and ease of installation and use.  Linux just keeps getting better, and the gap is widening.  Now if we could just get commercial software to distribute end user software that is cross platform…  but that’s a post for a different day.

Categories: linux, opensuse, ubuntu