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OpenSUSE 11.0 review, part 2

We can say unequivocally that change is good.

OpenSUSE, at its heart, has always been a really good distribution once it was up and running. But its faults, even though they weren't encountered by most users on a daily basis, were discouraging. For example, the project offered liveCDs, but they didn't contain an obvious or easy installer option. Instead, the user usually tried out the liveCD, then had to download the installation disk image.

The installation was lengthy, regardless of media used or programs installed. Most distributions, on reasonably powerful hardware, can take anywhere from twenty to forty minutes to install, start to finish. OpenSUSE versions prior to 11.0 took significantly longer.

Don't blink, or you'll miss the installation

OpenSUSE 11.0 unveils its take on the liveCD/DVD and installer combination. Our initial thoughts were that this was nice, because at least we'd be entertained with a web connection and functional operating system while OpenSUSE worked at the install. We imagined that we'd be involved with this install process for a good hour, at least.

OpenSUSE 11.0 EULA. Read the fine print.

The install process was fairly generic, and not unlike Ubuntu's ubiquity installer. We agreed to the EULA, and picked languages and layouts. When it came time to create our user, we got some nice options. We had the choice of creating a separate administrator (root) account with a separate password, or we could go with the sudoer-type arrangement. We could select if we wanted to auto-login.

Create new user screen

We also really liked the disk partitioner. It seemed much more intuitive than OpenSUSE's previous partitioner, and the design felt better than Ubuntu's partitioner. This partitioner does have its quirks, which are just as likely to benefit a new user as make a more experienced one have to stop and think a minute.

Partitioner proposing and reading. How many drives can a girl have?

In the event there is another operating system on your hard disk, OpenSUSE proposes resizing the largest partition/the one with the most free space, and installing itself there. For dual boots with Windows (or another Linux distribution), this should work without a hitch. If you'd like to replace your current distro with OpenSUSE 11.0 and preserve your current /home directory, or dual boot OpenSUSE and another Linux, and share the same /home directory, looking at the proposed partitioning can make your eyes bleed.

Nicer partitioner after re-read and editing of mountpoints

The solution is to select the "Re-Read the Partition Table" option, which nicely mind-wipes any proposed changes and allows you to go on to edit as you see fit.

Ready to install screen. C'mon. You know you want to press okay...

Then the install starts in earnest. Filesystems and applications are mirrored, copied, and -- that's it? We didn't even have time to make a sandwich! The install itself took close to twenty minutes, and the only incident that might make someone uneasy was a temporary interruption (4-5 seconds) of the X server, which gave us a nice peek at our command line. Our graphical server came back right where we left off.

And it was time for the restart. Upon first boot a few things get configured and hardware is probed. During this time, it is normal and customary for the X server to shut down momentarily. The OpenSUSE team knows that even experienced users say nasty things to themselves when this happens unexpectedly, and thoughtfully set a "Don't Panic, we're probing your video hardware" message to display in the terminal. Thanks, OpenSUSE!

The final configuration is a quick process (ours lasted about two to three minutes) and we were greeted with our OpenSUSE 11.0 desktop.
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