SUSE Linux was one of my very first distros; I used to buy it from CompUSA and other places back when I first got started with Linux. These days, of course, one can simply use openSUSE instead of buying it at a store. This week I decided to look at openSUSE 11.3, the latest and greatest version.
OpenSUSE is known for being one of the more preeminent KD-oriented distros, but it also supports GNOME (and now LXDE). Since I reviewed Linux Mint KDE last week, I figured I’d go with the GNOME version of openSUSE 11.3 so I could take a little break from KDE.
What’s New In This Release
Here’s a sample of what you’ll find in openSUSE 11.3:
SpiderOak Personal Cloud
Zypper Package Management Enhancements
Improved Package Dependency Handling
Nouveau Nvidia Driver
GNOME 2.30.1 (With Support for GNOME 3.0 Preview)
I’ll cover the GNOME changes in the desktop section of the review.
The netbook support offers the KDE Plasma Netbook Workspace, and the MeeGo netbook interface. I like the KDE netbook edition, but I haven’t tried MeeGo yet. Still, it’s good to see both of them being offered for openSUSE users. It’s great for netbook users to have a choice in desktop environments.
Zypper can now list packages that can’t be updated, and it can tell you why. You can also remove dependencies of a package by using the -clean-deps option. OpenSUSE 11.3 also features better package handling in general, letting YaST also remove dependencies needed by a removed package.
The smartphone support will be very much appreciated by Android, iPhone or Blackberry users. OpenSUSE 11.3 now lets you sync music, access photos or use your phone to connect to the Internet. It’s great to see this kind of smartphone connectivity in openSUSE, the developers seem to be supporting all of the major phone platforms.
The SpiderOak (what a weird name!) personal cloud is a cool idea and reminiscent of Ubuntu One. It wasn’t installed by default, so I had to go into the Software Manager and install it. After the install, I found it in the Internet applications menu. Signing up for SpiderOak was easy and quick; the SpiderOak interface is very well done and quite intuitive.
It’s easy to set up a backup, see your status, sync and view your files. You get 2GB of space, if you need more you can buy it. You can opt to be billed monthly or yearly, starting with 100GB for $100 per year or $10 per month. SpiderOak is a great addition to openSUSE, I’m very glad to see it included. I think it will prove to be a very valuable service for many openSUSE users.
I’m also happy to see LXDE support in openSUSE 11.3. KDE and GNOME are both great, but there are folks that really believe less is more (I go back and forth on that personally). So having LXDE as a desktop option in openSUSE opens the door to having it used by minimalists who prefer speed to gratuitous desktop features and functionality.
Although I decided to do this review using the GNOME version, I couldn’t resist the temptation to install LXDE and run it for a while instead. Whenever I run LXDE or some other minimalistic desktop environment, I always wonder if we really need all of the stuff that we get in KDE or GNOME. Sometimes less can really be more.