Monday, August 16, 2004

SUSE Linux 8.0 Professional Impressions

Suse Ltd was created in 1997 in Oakland, California. The four lucky people who created capital in Suse includes Hubert Mantel, Burchard Steinbild, Roland Dyroff and Thomas Fehr. Suse went into business with the goal of distributing a better OS than Red Hat. Red Hat publicly introduced itself in 1998, one year before Linux soared high on the stock market. (source : "Revolution OS" on IFC ) Red Hat has been making commercial versions that weren't sold in stores until 1998 (Red Hat 6.1). So it came together by a group ownership. With SUSe's Germany operation(s), Suse was able to create something competitive to Red Hat's OS. Suse bought the Jurix Linux source code, and renamed it to Suse making a much improved interface. By this time Linux was well established. Since the operating system was commercialized, it quadrupled in size. Now we are at version 8.2 with version 9.0 around the corner. Recently Suse went 64-bit instead of 32. This improved the interface, it booted up faster, and do more applications than it has done. Suse has an office sweep specifically designed for Suse Linux.

If you haven't read my Red Hat 8.0 editorial, you should read it, I mean I put weeks into that project. I described how Red Hat looked a lot like Windows. I don't know about copyright laws, but Linux in general has moved up the bar and broke laws. Windows applications are able to run on Linux! I think that is so cools. I talk about this later. Red Hat has recently been keeping up with the industry, surprisingly. They have both Gnome 2.2 and KDE 3.1 on their desktop. Red Hat supports both operating systems! KDE is entirely commercial in it's looks, and it's performance as a desktop shell. I knew Red Hat is good at what they do now. But I realized that their competition have had some interesting ideas. Suse, which is entirely profit driven, is unlike Red Hat who goes more towards the GNU Project, and is huge in industrial networking. Both operating systems use the same KDE Desktop, and it comes with all the applications. But Suse Linux is priced 20 dollars less than Red Hat. I choose the Personal version because it was cheaper.

Suse is already faster than Red Hat. The bootup is faster. I like this much better. Instead of commands being compiled, Suse has an upload statist bar. Opening applications is as fast as Windows XP. I have a 1.8 Ghz Athlon XP with 386 MB of DRam with a ATI Radeon 9000 video card. My processing speed is plenty fast. When the industry lowers it's price for 3.0 Ghz processors I'm going to upgrade.

The X factor [rating 9.5/10]

X as in Xwindows. Xwindows seems much stronger in Suse 8.2 than in Red Hat 8.0. Suse has a system were the MS Windows C drive is displayed on the KDE desktop. I shrugged at this massive accomplishment, for I have never seen the c drive on Linux before. Whether this option is in Red Hat 9.0, I don't know. But it makes it highly flexible to save things to the Window's C drive through Linux. Infact the C drive is listed on /root for easy access. You have the stability of linux to do your work without it crashing. I can do multiple stuff on the c drive that I couldn't of done in Red Hat 8.0. Personally I listen to MP3s on Linux that's on Windows. The sound quality is as good as it was on Windows. The drives for Red Hat 8.0 will also pop up. If you saved work in Red Hat 8.0, it'll automatically work in Suse. It was really weird, but it was really awesome. I know Suse did one thing right, they've added a full directory listing to Kstart so that you can directly access /root directory through the gui. I suppose I went sur-crazy for a mere 10 seconds. It's that cool. I don't have to make cdr each time I go on the Internet like I thought I had too.

Installation [8/10]

Installation (YaST) has a lot in common with Red Hat. No doubt it is a excellent and well set up Installation effort done by SUSE programmers. I liked Red Hat's latest installation wizard in version 8.0. By default, Suse 8.2 comes only with KDE desktop. What we really need is both Gnome and KDE. YaST will help you through the installation. If you have this by default. KDE runs faster than Gnome, slightly. Gnome has even more programs than Red Hat. All programs are installed in Gnome show up in KDE. The Professional version of Suse comes with 5 discs instead of 3 disks, and can add up to 3 Gigabytes instead of 2 Gigabytes. The source code has been shorten in the Professional version, and helps the computer load software faster. But the Personal version, what I have, has the exact same properties, but a little slower. The system will have to re-partition your current Linux partition whether it is Red Hat or Mandrake because Suse has to use the same partitions to create it's basis too. It's the damn competition way of saying, “ You bought me, now you have to use me instead of Red Hat” So at least Suse is kind enough to show file progresses that are installed to the Linux partition. Put this can easily be reversed by renaming the partition to a different Swap drive, and have Ext 4, 5 and 6 for Suse or vice versa for Red Hat. There is an option that allows the super user to check gnome, too. With gnome you get another desktop. The installation takes 15 minutes. It takes anywhere from 1 Gigabytes to 2 Gigabytes of hard drive space. KDE and Gnome are both 700 MBs each. With the huge, and cheap options with hard drives these days, it should be recommended by anyone for the full installation of both Shells.


The YaST asks the user to check his modem. The modem is connected in the COM1 of my computer ( bottom socket of the motherboard ) The only modem that'll worked in Red Hat is the common 3COM Robotics 56K Fax Modem. YaST needs to be updated further. If you have a Win modem, it won't work. So I went back to CompUSA to get an External Modem called the Creative Modem Blaster. That time it worked. Sometimes I think that PCI cards aren't viewable since they aren't in use unless you stick something in the serial port such as a external fax modem. I have had a odd connection viewing my fax modem inside my computer. There has been news off the web that Suse doesn't have the proper drivers for PCI modems. YaST will ask you if you want to download a patch for your Nvidia videocard. I know most people will go, and buy a Geforce II or IV. While others will go with ATI Radeon series. This patch will give your card compatibility with OpenGL.

Suse Personal version automatically asks you if you want to become a workstation in a LAN. Since most people will only own one computer, this isn't possible. So workstations work fine. Like in all The installation recognizes all 2003 hardware components, and earlier (video card, hard drive, monitor, mouse, sound card, speakers, processor, modem, network card, fire wire ports, USB ports, etc.) When Suse is installed I like to use Partition Magic 8.0 to create free space so Red Hat can detect it, and install according to it. I haven't seen a way that Suse can do that. No problem though.

The difference between SuSe 8.1, and 8.2 are noticeable. I don't know. I've never used Suse. So I heard: A lot of the bug fixes that comes with shell development are now fixed. Not so much a new release of the two desktop shells, but rather improved use of memory, and small application fixes. Suse 8 can now recognize newer hardware. Suse 8.2 never crashes. That's good news. To prevent extra work. Suse put more updates on the Programs on 3rd disc. I never needed to use the third disc.

The Internet on Linux [rating 8.5/10]

Unix has much Improved in the Internet field. Netscape Communicator has been whipped off the face of Linux distributions! This OS comes with Konqueror, Mozilla, Opera. Out of the three, Konqueror is the most advanced browser. It can open any webpage without a problem. Not to say that Mozilla or Opera don't have that ability. You can't read most javascript made by independent users that work exclusive for Internet Explorer seen on both iMac and Windows. Gaim is still the premiere instant messenger for Linux. It has everything : MSN Messenger, ICQ, AIM, Yahoo, IRC. And is very reliable. There is more drivers that allow automatic detection like you see in Windows XP. That annoying “Hardware Found” icon on the Windows taskbar is in Suse 8.2. I don't know how long Suse had the technology though. It comes with Opera 6.0 and Mozilla 1.0.2. Opera and Mozilla are award winning programs. Both browsers use Sun's Javascript in bedded into each. This allows you to see some basic html javascript like popup menus and slide shows.

The Word Processor / html editing / programming [rating 9.0/10]

I recently talked about Open Office on Red Hat, and it's so good, that it's back on Suse 8.2 version. It is the preferred office suite of all KDE, and Gnome operating systems. KDE makes its own version of Koffice. And Gnome makes Abiword. But these word processors, although close, don’t have as many features as Open Office Suite. One enhancement is that it highlights your typing in blue and while you type and also displays the end result as you type. That's cool. Now I don't have a problem of missing words. In 1.0.1 for Red Hat, crashed once every time I use it. The only thing that kept me from getting mad at it is that it periodically saved my files to /home/students/ directory. It's better in Suse or Linux in general.

If you want to edit html, you have plenty of options. Linux comes with Mozilla Composer. It has much improved over the Netscape 6.0 composer. MC can view both gui style, and html script in the same program. Than you can use Open Office to create light html pages too. There are some free downloadable software like Bluefish 0.9, and Coffeecup HTML editor. Both a command line based html editor. People can use the Kate for easy access to their html script. It highlights different code in color so you can easily find your code. It's also used for Pearl, C++, shell script, and Python shell script. Best of all, when your system crashes, Kate will keep your work for you till you log in, and open Kate again. I seen this work in different Linux OS, and it isn't new to Linux.

One thing new aboard linux is Python 2.2 programming client. Python script looks like shell script, but has MSDOS commands are built into it, and some simple commands. It's available for all Linux distributions. The script is simpler than shell script for linux, and looks the same. Not like Korn shell. That's what the terminal uses now. What is Korn, you ask? Korn is a more advanced shell programming structure than Bourlen Shell script. It's a hybrid, to be exact. Python is included with SUSE under the programming tab of the statist bar.

The Multimedia Software [7/10]

With the ability to see Mp3s on windows partition, you can use a program called XMMS (looks exactly like Winamp), and play your songs. The XMMS can read all Winamp customized zipped skins. It's about the highest quality mp3 player out for Linux. XMMS comes with equalizer abilities, and a range of sound adjustments. I really like. XMMS is in Red Hat 8.0 too. So it's a Linux thing. Sometimes XMMS will play, but not show up, and than crash with the music still playing. At least XMMS is skinnable. Mplayer can show DVD movies not very well, but the idea is there. I haven't seen this program in Red Hat at all. Mplayer can read avi, and mpeg off DVDRs, so that's a plus. It's not as buggy as the Red Hat version of it's media player. Suse comes with Realplayer. Realplayer reads MPEG off cds, but also doubles as an Internet radio tuner, and streaming video client.

Picture clients are cool. I like Kuinkshow better than Image Viewer in Gnome. This program will read graphic files off Linux / Windows, and scrolls through them as you scroll the mouse wheel. Esc on the keyboard cancels Kuinkshow. It has many similarities with Irfanview. One thing that I find difficult in Suse makes it's file system so you can't bring up Kuinkshow first, and look at your photos, but have to find them on the desktop or even cut / paste directory shortcuts to the open statist window. I look at Kuinkshow so I can easily page through my artwork I made in Windows.

Many games have the same problem with Nvidia cards that use Direct 3D. Suse has an easier time using the video card to it's advantage, but SUSE stop supporting Nvidia drivers for what ever reason. The focus for Linux partitions is OpenGL, an open source graphics accelerator which should work as well as Direct 3D, and doesn't. OpenGL improved some since 1999, but it still doesn't look as good or have as good as frame rate as Direct 3D. However I was able to get a Geforce driver off, which improved graphics acceleration slightly.

Video editing can also be done on Suse with “MovieActor 3.7.” The Linux version of Microsoft's Moviemaker software, and still more filled out with options. It is still very basic. Some features that properly describe it is that it can move mpeg video around by croping the video, and export it to mpeg. It can add still images, and add slide transitions too.

New Games [7/10]

All the games are stable in Suse 8.2. Gnome's game package grown bigger in this version. Racer is a 3D Car Simulation (a 250 MB game) The game is much like Midnight Racer for the PS2. At least we know that 3D racers are supported by the operating system. There is also Fool Billiards, a pool game for Linux that uses real nice 3D acceleration.

Loki makes some affordable commercial versions of Neverwinter Nights, Civilization 4, Simcity 3000, Quake III, and Unreal Tournament 2003 for all Linux OS. There just isn't games to go around in Linux. I found a large selection of free games off Chronoium is a good 2D shooter, but it requires OpenGL. Should Direct X be on a Linux operating system, that will be the day. The frustrating time comes when 3Ddiag doesn't work with Nvidia's latest driver. The driver can come in a compact 1.3 format or a very large uncompressed .run format. Quadra is a new Tetris game put in Suse. It wasn't in Red Hat's distribution. It's fun, but Ksirtris is more fun, and it has somewhat better level adjustment. Quadra is impossible to keep up with after level 3. Grometris is Grome's version of Tetris. It's a basic game at best. KDE had come up with Kbattleship after the board game Battleship. That is a little fun too. The buttons in the game have been updated to look rounded, and shady that went well with the desktop anyway. This wasn't possible 5 years ago. Desktop appearance took a giant leap in the Linux department in KDE 2.0 and 3.0 AisleRiot is the only solitaire game on board Suse Linux. That sucks! Katomic is a fun games. It's a well known game in the Linux community. I am good at it. The game is about matching balls which move, and stop by hitting a wall. Than they have to be in the order of the matching screen to go on. There is 50 levels in this game. There is plenty of time to fool around. The higher levels are unreachable by the average person, I believe. Linux is about having fun. The more fun your having, the more you are educated about Linux, and that is the best part of using Linux. Patience is another solitaire game. Solitaire is relaxing. Thus, Solitaire is the bomb! Everyone agrees with it.

I've played Tux Racer, and it's a good game. It has a catchy jingle to it. It's more of a Penguin Grand Prix than a racer. It's a nice game though. A good effort. As a player, you can race 6 tracks. The tracks are better than most racers. It has various shades of tree colors, and snow cover. Good background artwork. It runs in high resolution. I wonder if KDE or Gnome plan to add Doom 1.1 to their 3D games. If so it would be awesome. If not, that's ok, I'll just download it off the Internet. If only I had a videocard that excepted OpenGL.

There was one game that worked with OpenGL well called Frozen Bubble. I love this game. It's new, and it's cool. Frozen Bubble most resembles the N64 game, Bust-a-Bubble. It's simple, it's stable, just line the bubbles up with the color, and there it all goes down. Do this all in time to move on. This game has 100. Newer versions should have more than 100. The program comes with mp3 music that is appropriate for this style genre. The music isn't that cheesy. Red Hat didn't come with this game. It was top rated on the web for most enjoyable game on Linux. So ... I rest my case. This is one of the best games for Linux off the Internet, period. This game deserves a 9.0/10 user rating. If you don't own a brand new computer like me, you can even lower the graphics quality so it'll run on your video card. You'll see once you find it.

If you like to download a lot of games, I advice you to download the compressed format .tar or .gz. Than you won't be missing files, and a lot of times, if your games come pre-compiled, you can get away with it. So download the zip format of your games. If you don't have an unity, which you should have if you’re running Linux is ARK.

Desktop Management [8/10]

Desktops in Linux improved slightly in the last 2 years. Linux has a good os shell recovery system (something that occurs in the kernel.) Applications can't crash as they would in Windows. It's a Linux standard, and gets better in every release of Suse / Red Hat / Mandrake. In the industry, there is an argument whether or not the latest versions of SUSE, Red Hat or Mandrake are as stable as they were 2 years ago. It shouldn't been true though, the kernel went up more than a 100 public releases since than. All of these curacy of the GNU Project. These companies release a new version every 6 to 8 months every year. They're always trying to put something new in there OS. I mean ,in Linux, SUSE took a more drastic turn than Microsoft did when they went from Windows 98 to Windows 2000. Now you can go to your folder, right click, and do renaming, moving of files to any directory. Use the terminal or use of the gui to make adjustments to your files is quick. If you right click on the desktop itself you have a broad view of many options. By the way, I found out all the screen savers that Linux is known for is in Gnome. In KDE, you get a scenic black screen that will enlighten your Desktop. You can change your resolution to look like Windows, Change your background image. I tried this on my mom, and she thought she was using Windows XP. It was so funny to watch. She did see something different about "Kstart." I didn't say anything. Like in KDE 2.1, you could change your title bars to look a lot like Windows 2000. There are a lot of Desktop backgrounds that come with Suse. Really cool screen savers appear when you don't' use the desktop for a length of time. I had seen these in Red Hat, though. Every thing has a minimum quality, for all screensavers have to look cool, and not crash. Linux also has an option where you can reserve energy by putting your computer into sleep mode. Sleep mode doesn't make much since to me when you can turn your computer off.

Installing programs are varied. RPMs usually don't have the the system files I need to install what I need. RPMs are the install wizard similar to EXE for Windows. Some programs come compressed in tar.gz format. I don't like these as much because there harder to work with. YaST gives me errors saying that the packages need to run the wizard is unavailable. A lot of times you need to be signed in as root to allow any rpms to be installed. Sometimes you can't install new versions over the old version (such as Mozilla) so you have to delete the directory Mozilla, and install the latest version over that. Suse has an uninstall wizard, but I have no idea where it is?

FIN : The End Result

The end result is that I much rather have Suse on my Desktop than Red Hat. Although in the future, I'll use Red Hat for school. I can have what I feel more comfortable with in Suse 8.2. I like the ability to see the Windows hard drive, it gives me more options I never had. I like Red Hat's smooth features like the screensavers. They both run the same version of KDE, and Gnome. But, Suse runs faster than Red Hat. So I have to like Suse more than Red Hat 8.0. I'll see what Red Hat 10.0 is like in 2004. But until then, I like what I have with Suse. doesn't have any selection of drivers for hardware what-so-ever. But they do have a toll free 1800 number to call for tech support.

Suse 9.0 came out a while ago. I own Suse 9.0 now. I feels exactly like SUSE 9.0. SUSE 9.0 must have a little more compatibility with hardware such as modems, and processors. It has some newer program versions. It’s all it is. Updated versions of the same old programs. And not something like version 0.4 to version 1.3 for programs. It’s more like version 0.8 to version 1.3. It’s only browser 5 releases. Like I say before, SUSE 9.0 is still a wonderful version of Linux except if you have 8.0 – 8.2 than you might as well wait until SUSE Corporation releases Suse Linux 10.0 in late 2004 or early 2005. Other programs that have changed since 8.2 are XMMS. It went from version 1.2.7 to version 1.2.8. See? It’s not the much of a change. With 9.0 I got a double sided DVD in the box which made an unbelievable amount of open source software on it.

Written by Ian on May 10, 2003 with | rev 1.0.5 |Updated August 24, 2004

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