I loved SuSE back in the days between versions 6-9. At the time Novell took over around 9.0, things quickly went downhill. Everything I liked about SuSE was badly damaged or taken away. A few releases were okay, but the whole model of development was bad corporate. There is no “good corporate” but at least Red Hat is tolerable; Novell was not.
It took some time for the developers of SUSE to shake off the worst effects of bad corporate herding, but the current release of 12.3 is just about usable. It still takes some tweaking, and you will have to get used to things being a little different, but I believe it’s worth the trouble.
The two primary usability issues are still the KDE desktop and font rendering. KDE will never be what it once was, but it’s finally getting tolerable. (Look out! That can only mean they are preparing to screw it up again.) I won’t waste a bunch of time rewriting the two best guides for fixing things.
MTE (Make Tech Easier) has a very good guide on taming KDE 4 and making it act more like KDE 3. Just change one detail: your new desktop theme “Vintage” goes in
/home/[username]/.kde4/share/apps/desktoptheme — the
.kde folder in your HOME has changed to
Part of the damage from passing through Novell was the destruction of font rendering. I highly recommend you follow the guide at OpenSUSE Starter and add the muzlocker repo to get things back like they once were. Just change the details to match the 12.3 release.
I’m still entirely disappointed by the failure of the Plasmoid widgets to match the glory of the Kicker stuff in KDE 3. I want more system information at hand, and I want it all in one place. So I use GKrellM and I built the gkrell-weather plugin from source. Simply add the
gkrellm-devel package, accept whatever dependencies come with it, then get the plugin source here. You can build with the defaults and let it install where it likes, because when you restart GKrellM after installing the plugin, it will be found. You can find the appropriate weather station codes here. For example, the closest to me geographically is Tinker Air Force Base, KTIK (you have to use all caps).
Naturally I had to add WINE so I could run Notepad++ because nothing in Linux works so well, and also so I could run Word 97. I still use Opera for mail, in part because KMail is an overly complicated boondoggle and you are lucky if you can get it to work. It tried to import settings from Opera, but failed to create any kind of usable configuration and I can’t work out the obscure non-standard options in KMail while the automated settings keep interfering. YMMV.
Still, I’d say if you really need a current Linux distro for a newish machine like mine, it’s pretty good for desktop use.
Currently at milestone 7, I highly recommend you avoid openSUSE 11.3 if you plan to boot more than one OS.
I tried to install it on one harddrive (PATA/IDE mode), while preserving my RHEL 6.0-Beta install on another (SATA). I frankly fought with the SUSE installer, and it ended up nuking the LVM markings on the RHEL installation, and making it completely unbootable. It refused to leave the drive alone. Not content to get a full 250GB for itself, it wanted a chunk of the other. Apparently it has been scripted to aggressively pursue the swap partitions anywhere on the system, and be damned what it does to the other OS involved. On top of that, it was pretty much unusable once installed.
Novell, somebody needs to slap your developers.
To clarify: This is not a bug. This is a Microsoft-style casual disregard. I went through the detailed options on partitioning because the default proposal was unacceptable. When I got through, I double checked, reviewing what it was going to do. It looked okay, so I clicked “Next”. It then did what it first tried to do, and removed the LVM volume labels on the SATA drive. Plus, it refused to include the RHEL installation in the new Grub setup.
I’m sure they won’t admit to any such thing, but this smells like the good old days of, “It’s not done until Lotus won’t run!”
I stole the title from an Army slogan. It’s state-speak demanding you turn off your conscience. My mission now is a direct reflection of my conscience, and the very title of my blog reflects an interest here in practical applications of that conscience. The last thing you’ll get from me is pontification, since I presume here only to entertain myself by exercising one of my few passions — writing — about things I’ve experienced in pursuit of that mission.
If you have to ask, that mission is serving the God of the Bible. I’m hardly orthodox by most established standards, but I am exceedingly comfortable, at peace with my conscience and what I can perceive regarding God. I strive to improve, expand and deepen that sense of peace, and my posts here reflect that struggle. You can apply such a concept to just about anything in your life, as I do mine. It won’t matter how minor or insignificant the issue; I hold a mystical regard that every element in my earthly existence is subject to divine veto. My loyalty and burden of responsibility allows nothing to escape.
That’s not a pedantic assumption every choice is between holy and profane in itself. But I always seek to know. Sometimes I perceive God doesn’t care to guide some choices discretely, and leaves it to me. For example, today’s issue is one which has cropped up often: using computers. There are no particular moral choices simply because a significant element of the development and production of all computer OSes includes a rejection of the God I serve. Thus, any claims to moral high ground are spurious, since God is the sole source of morality. Any counter-claims this or that one is immoral is equally bogus. The whole debate becomes silly and immoral itself. My point in announcing my break from Linux fandom was not a rejection of Linux, but a rejection of the common Linux-hobbyist mentality. In my service to God, the attachment itself was a serious hindrance.
That said, I note I am typing this from a machine running Linux. I left the Dell Inspiron 545 running Vista and gave it to my wife. It was a compromise between the hassles of XP and the all-too-new differences in her eyes in running Win7. The machine was designed for Vista and it works just fine. Whatever the rest of humanity disliked about it does not apply in this case, so it won’t matter what the reputation is for Vista. It works; it serves the purpose and the mission of God for her is advanced. In exchange, I took back from her a machine I had built a couple of years ago (motherboard), but kept the Dell LCD monitor.
I’ll skip most of the details, but we found the nVidia drivers for Win7 are broken (GeForce 6100), have been for quite some months, and aren’t likely to be fixed. Lots of complaints online indicated it was something about the drivers themselves, as it seemed consistent across a wide range of nVidia chipsets. From what I understand, the GPU itself enters a race condition, and the system display bogs down and becomes unusable, even while the system reports everything is fine. So I tried different Linux distros with my monitor. Each had it’s own failures and I was not in the mood to try resolving the issues. Knowing Win7 did not like the GPU, I bought a Radeon HD4350, simply because it was the most affordable card I could find. I used it for several weeks that way with Win7.
While I found the hardware profile verification annoying, I didn’t feel threatened by it. I found quite a few favorite applications worked fine: Opera, Cream/Vim, Notepad++, PDF Xchange Viewer, etc. There is something wonky with the odd way Microsoft elected to create for 64-bit a default installation target in “Program Files (x86)” while keeping the backward compatible “Program Files” folder next to it. Most of the time, I found it was necessary to install 32-bit apps in the latter — which meant just about everything I installed (the same applies for 64-bit Vista), but it worked well enough. Still, I never quite got comfortable.
Part of my mission includes having a laptop. I had considered ditching my Inspiron 4100 for a netbook, but decided I just could not come up with the money for it. Given how I expected to use it, it was a purely pragmatic decision to switch the laptop to CentOS 5. It’s too wimpy for XP plus defensive software, and Win2K lacks things like a built-in WPA supplicant capability, nor was anything available for free to fix that. Plus, some of my cards had no drivers for Win2K. That’s just a sampling of reasons, but CentOS had all that, plus ran usably fast. Using it reminded me of those subtle differences which I missed when using Win7, so on a lark, I checked on how other folks were coping with the Radeon card under Linux.
That HD4350 chipset has been out for two years, but X.org is just now getting some preliminary 3D support. This, when the card as a half-GB of VRAM. Then I stumbled across references to something called “Catalyst” — and I remembered that was the driver package name for the Radeon card in Win7. So I examined references to it under Linux. All this time I had thought ATI was no longer making the old flgrx proprietary driver. Seems to me I recall part of the reason for the X.org fork from XFree86 was the painfully slow adoption of Radeon code donated by ATI. So I had this picture of X.org working with ATI and no need for a separate package, as had been in the past. Wrong. Instead, I find ATI still has it, and it’s a whale of a lot better than ever.
Now, I had tried several distros of Linux on this particular machine. Several releases of Ubuntu couldn’t even identify the optical drive from which it was running and froze — the old SATA DVD-RW issue I ran into on the Inspiron 545, but with a different chipset (ICH9 versus MCP61). SUSE had no clue how to handle the video, reflecting the current state of X.org. But CentOS didn’t choke at all. While it offered only 2D acceleration with the old glxgears test giving me 300FPS, it at least allowed the monitor to run the native resolution (1920×1080). So I installed the Catalyst driver package from ATI and it worked just fine, with the glxgears running at over 3000FPS — a 10x improvement. Leaving Win7 on the one hard drive, still attached, I am running CentOS 5.4 from another drive.
On a purely experiential basis, I have found CentOS superior by far to other distros. I can’t pretend to know all the technical details. What I do know is CentOS is a clone of RedHat Enterprise Linux, and RHEL is the result of catering to the corporate user. Much as I despise the corporate culture, it isn’t uniformly evil. What makes Windows usable at all is the necessity of responding to the customer to some degree. What makes Linux so useless most of the time is the utter lack of customers, simply because developers as a whole have zero interest in any user who isn’t a hobbyist and fanboy. There is a sense in which there is never a finished product. No, not in the absolutist sense, because Windows is always being fixed, too. Rather, in the sense of a relatively stable API, a predictable experience for the user, something which doesn’t change dramatically every few months. When MS fixes something, they fix what is currently supported, and that goes back several years. Projects like GNOME and KDE can’t be bothered to fix something from last week. It’s always “fixed in the next release.” The mass of ordinary computer users, most particularly corporate customers, can’t tolerate that. The headlong rush forward, requiring frequent rebuilds and the attendant breakage is a hostile environment for most users. RH understands that, and tames the rolling-release beast by offering a Linux product which meets their needs, while the rest of the Linux/Open Source community belittles and dismisses such users.
By no means is the CentOS default desktop as pretty as Win7 or recent Linux products. I don’t care about that, nor do most ordinary computer users. CentOS uses a rather old X.org release which is pretty quick and light, and the “ancient” GNOME 2.16, which they have fixed and fixed and it’s now actually usable. No, I can’t get things like Xiphos (complications with the use of the EPEL repository) or Cheese ported back to it, but that’s because the developers are hostile to supporting older versions, taking their cues from the GNOME Project itself. But accepting those limitations with CentOS still leaves me with a very good, stable and trustworthy OS, and it’s more comfortable than Windows of any flavor. No, not inherently superior — all operating systems stink, but CentOS stinks less. If my needs change, it may become once again worthwhile to reboot into Win7.
Then there’s always RHEL 6 coming soon. When it comes out, I’m sure there will be a few issues arise and some immediate fixes. The point is, that won’t be the last fixes. RH shows consistently a careful maintenance of things the rest of the community has long forgotten. They do that simply because that’s what the customer demands. The rest of the Linux world can’t comprehend that sort of respect and care for the customers. It’s not morality; it’s entirely mercenary — that’s where the money is. Linux as a whole isn’t about money, but about the
game science of fooling with computers themselves. Mac is about the cool-geewhiz factor, BSD is about performance measures, and so it goes.
You choose what you need for your emphasis. To the degree I haven’t addressed your favorite Linux distro, it’s because I find it too much work for too little return, or there really is something morally repugnant in it. Linux is not all one thing, as Linux itself goes, but the variations reduce in significance when scaled against the broader needs of humans. A computer is just a tool, not the mission. For today, the best way for me to meet that mission is running CentOS on this box. While I do admit to some sentimental attachment, watch how quickly that fades to insignificance if the situation changes.
First off, you need to realize this is not an angry rant. I have loved Linux from the first experience, when I installed RedHat 5.0 on an old 486. Once I understood it, and some of the philosophy behind it, this was where I wanted to be. I still wish it were so, but it’s not.
There has been an on-going issue for the particular hardware I run, a Dell 545 MT. I have used Vista, Win7, openSUSE 11.1 and 11.2, Ubuntu 9.04 and 9.10, and was unable to install my preferred CentOS 5.4. I managed to get SUSE 11.2 and Ubuntu 9.10 working rather well, except for one thing: burning disks. This machine features the ICH9 chipset, and my DVD-RW is SATA. When I try to burn disks larger than, say 250MB, it always fails. I read the logs, every log file I could find. There are over a dozen bug reports about this issue, and I tested every solution offered on every distro buglist which discussed it.
I don’t pretend to understand it, but I believe it has something to do with the interaction between udev and the burn process. Seems udev is polling the device during the burn, and somehow that interferes, and the burn stops. Brasero and other wodim front-ends fail consistently without useful error messages. K3B as a frontend for cdrecord works better, but still can’t finish anything much above 250MB. It seems to make a difference whether the settings include TAO or SAO, with the latter allowing a bigger ISO, but still failing at some point. Again, it’s over my head. I’ve spent hours reading about it on lists ranging from Ubuntu to Fedora, and too many had no useful discussion at all. Sometimes the submitter reports the issue resolved itself, but nothing they write helps me.
Among those who seem to understand it best, it would seem coordinating between the udev developers and the kernel driver developers is not straightforward. Each side seems to blame the other, though I don’t understand it well enough to be sure. What I do know is this has been reported as a problem starting two years ago, and is still unresolved. Now, it seems to me quite reasonable to assume it isn’t ever going to be fixed. It’s not a huge problem, because there are only a few of us using this particular hardware combination. At any rate, it’s not the hardware, because I burn flawless ISOs of all sizes, both CD and DVD, using Roxio under Vista.
I’m not at all happy running Vista, but I can’t afford to run out and buy new hardware. This expensive machine was a gift from someone who could afford it. I don’t have access to much else, except far older hardware. Nor do I have room to maintain a bank of different systems, even if I could afford them. I don’t have any real choices here. At this point I’m waiting to see if the BSDs will get all the drivers for my system, and may give one of them a try. Right now it seems bug reports indicate they are having issues, too. But this is Intel, which I believe is fully open to Open Source developers, so I can’t imagine why this remains broken two years after the first reports.
At any rate, I won’t be trying Linux any more on this machine.
I gave Windows Vista, which came with my hardware (Inspiron 545 MT), and the free Windows 7 upgrade, a fair and honest try. For two weeks I ran Win7. It was certainly better than Vista, but there were things which just did not work for me. You would hardly be surprised it centered mostly on my addiction to certain Open Source tools which are not available, or don’t work properly, on Win7. Bear in mind, the free version I got was 64-bit Home Premium, but the main problem was GNU4Win tools didn’t work at all on the commandline. They aren’t compatible.
There were other issues, mostly reflecting the commercial controls to which Windows users are restricted, limitations which have nothing to do with law or copyright, but inside deals.
We’ve already tested Ubuntu and related distros on this machine, and they are all broken on two main issues: Optical media and X.org. The former didn’t work at all, and the latter crashed and logged me out at the oddest times. Nobody seemed to have a clue, as I searched extensively. Nothing in the logs answered any questions I knew how to ask. But openSUSE 11.2 runs without those glitches. By no means can we call it perfect, but it sucks less, as one Open Source project used to claim for itself.
I am mostly OS agnostic. Given Mac-heads have recently done so much to bring a bigger and better variety of Open Source projects on board, I would be willing to run Snow Leopard, but it’s not worth the hassle. If Syllable or Haiku were ready for prime time, and could run properly on my system, I’d be willing to give them a try. A few details are missing from FreeBSD, or I would have already tried that, too.
I’m not a fanboy of any of them. The closest I come to brand loyalty is CentOS. Right now, that’s a very long way from being ready to run on this. Even the upcoming 6.0 release may miss. If I could get it to work, I wouldn’t have to worry about having to do it all again in just a few months. But for now, it’s openSUSE.
Given past performance, it’s quite likely someone will package Sword and Xiphos for SUSE 11.2, but I wasn’t willing to wait. For those of you eager to try this at home, I offer this outline. It is terse, but should be sufficient for those with enough experience to try it.
1. Make sure to get basic build stuff (install by group) and basic GNOME build libs (by group). YaST > Software > Software Management. Near the upper left-hand corner, click the button marked “Groups” and change it to “Patterns” and scroll down in the left pane to “Development.” Click on “Based Development, then the button below there “Install All.” Do the same for “GNOME Development.”
2. Add the following packages: icu, libicu-devel, clucene-core-devel, libcurl-devel, libMagick++-devel, and mozilla-xulrunner191-devel. Dependencies will be added automatically, of course.
3. Download latest Sword source: ftp://crosswire.org/pub/sword/source/v1.5/.
4. Download latest Xiphos source: http://xiphos.org/download/.
5. Move sources to a build location; I prefer
sudo mv sword-1.5.11.tar.gz /usr/local/src/
sudo mv xiphos-3.1.1.tar.gz /usr/local/src/
6. Build sword. First, we fix a bug. In
sword-1.5.11/utilities/emptyvss.cpp we need to add one line. At the top of file, insert this line:
#include <iostream>. Then build:
sudo ./configure --with-icu
sudo make install
When finished, make sure Pkg-config knows about Sword:
sudo cp sword.pc /usr/lib64/pkgconfig/
7. Build Xiphos.
sudo gunzip xiphos-3.1.1.tar.gz
sudo tar -xvf xiphos-3.1.1.tar
sudo make install
It will take awhile before GNOME notices it, so you’ll need to run it from the commandline at least once. Just type in
xiphos and play with it a bit. At some point, it will be added automatically to the menu system.
It appears the kinks have been mostly worked out of the RC I tried previously. About the only reason I even considered turning away from Ubuntu/Xubuntu was because it could not properly communicate with my DVD-RW. I couldn’t play music CDs without lots of struggle, and could not burn anything at all to CD or DVD. Those are essential to my work, so it caused me to check openSUSE after the full release came out.
As you should expect, on this machine it was quite ready to go to work. I had to burn the DVD ISO on my wife’s Winbox, but it was worth it. The installation was pretty much finished and ready to use in about a half-hour. It took only a few moments to fight YaST over how to use my harddrive. I didn’t want to preserve anything but my separate Home partition. Once that speed bump was passed, it was pretty smooth sailing.
The first thing to fix was sound. As with Ubuntu, and just about any current distro and the Intel HDA onboard sound chipset, it required digging to find the proper incantation in the ALSA configuration. The canonical HOWTO is part of the SUSE Support Data Base: SDB:Intel-HDA sound problems. I find it somewhat foolish to bury the bundled documentation in the kernal source package, when it should be in the ALSA documents. So I had to install the kernel sources and inspect
/usr/src/linux/Documentation/sound/alsa/HD-Audio-Models.txt. I already knew the codec was ALC888, found under the heading “ALC882/883/885/888/889″ in the file. Similar to Ubuntu, there was a specific driver for the recent Dell Inspirons:
6stack-dell. To get this added in the right place, it was simple enough to use YaST > Hardware > Sound and edit the sound device listed there, adding that bit of information to the line for “board model.” Once I had that, YaST restarted the sound server automatically. As before, this took care of the issue of speakers playing when headphones were plugged in.
openSUSE didn’t have the problem with the GUI crashing when I played Aisleriot. I never did understand what the problem was with Ubuntu, nor did anyone else seem to know. I can also play music CDs without the struggle. Naturally, not all the nifty packages are available as with anything based on Debian, but I can build pretty much anything I want. You may want to check my previous test on the RC release on how to include extra repositories.
As noted with the RC of this release I chose not to accept the typical route to getting the extra codecs and Flashplayer, since I still see no reason to tolerate the reflexive jump to plastering 32-bit on a 64-bit OS. There are few bugs still, such as autowrap not working in Gvim, but I’ll get over it. Also, migrating my Thunderbird configuration meant renaming the folder from
~/.thunderbird, but the version with SUSE works better. I note Ubuntu had crippled the Spidermonkey development package; you had to remove Firefox to get it. I prefer to have what little ECMAScript is implemented in building Elinks, and SUSE’s Packman does it right.
Otherwise, on this particular hardware, openSUSE 11.2 appears to be a keeper. I’ll surely report if something breaks down the road.
Update: One minor issue is Aisleriot no longer contains the original “bonded” card set, but is limited to some ugly stuff I can’t see clearly. I chased down the SVG file from an online source directory someone had open to the public, and downloaded the
bonded.svg and copied it to
/usr/share/gnome-games-common/cards/. Then, to make sure, I ran
gconf-editor and modified the choice — apps > aisleriot > card_style — and changed it to “bonded”. Then when I opened the game, I got the old style cards back.
I use the Dirty-Ice color theme, and while I don’t care about using the underlying CleanIce engine, I get tired of error messages. So I chased down a source RPM to build it myself. It’s not to hard to use the standard
/usr/src/package directories with
rpmbuild -bb package.spec to get anything for which I can find an SRPM.
I’ve also built Xiphos, and that will be detailed in another post.
Update 2: I find Gnome-screensaver is broken every where I’ve tried it. This time it allowed my system to go down far enough it refused to wake up when I hit the keyboard or clicked the mouse. Sorry, GNOME, but it’s not a laptop. I killed and changed the command call in the start-up list to Xscreensaver.
This is the 64-bit version of Ubuntu. There is little point to running down the entire catalogue. Almost everything works Out of the Box® as we have come to expect from Ubuntu. When it doesn’t is when we have something to say. Further, having something to say is often limited to what little we each tend to mess with, so we only know what we use. I’m not a grand testing guru, but I’m sharing this with those who are doing something similar. Nobody here is pretending this is a proper technology review.
The primary big problem is Alsa. Currently, the hardware detection is unable to recognize every pertinent detail. For the impatient — on most recent Inspirons using ICH9 sound chips, edit
/etc/modprobe.d/alsa-base.conf by adding the following line to the bottom of the file:
options snd-hda-intel model=6stack-dell
Then reboot. It’s that simple.
For those of you seeking clues to working it out with other machines, the solution means you have do some research, then get your hands dirty with modifying the config files by hand. I assure you it’s worth it. The context is realizing a great many recent onboard chipsets, Intel in particular, are configured in so very many different ways, there is no way to know exactly what does the trick. The details are buried on the Alsa website, and can be gleaned from a hundred different bug reports and forum discussions. A good starting place is this page on the Ubuntu Community documentation website. The critical items start under the heading “Manually Specify Module Parameters”:
- Find the codec used by your chipset. My Inspiron reports “Realtek ALC888″.
- Check the listing of possible model names Alsa uses in your distro bundled documentation. For Ubuntu, that turned out to be
/usr/share/doc/alsa-base/driver/HD-Audio-Models.txt.gz, which was easily read by using
zlessfrom the commandline.
- If you cannot identify what’s most plausible for your hardware, start with the “auto” parameter.
- Prepare yourself to keep testing different options until you get something which works properly.
In my case, the primary issue was a small amount of popping in the output, but worst of all, plugging in headphones at the front panel of the tower didn’t cut the main speaker output. Alsa didn’t know which output channel did what until I identified the layout by the model name. Most of the complaints were along the lines of “no headphone jack sense control”. The fix I found does not fix that peculiar problem with the mixer interface, but it did fix the problem automatically.
When testing different distros to find which will work the best, I realize perfection on any particular hardware is unlikely, for the simple reason the developers can’t buy a sample of everything out there. A limited number of glitches, and some do-it-yourself fixes are always acceptable with every OS. Some things are simply too much, or there may be too many little things together. Here is my experience on what I’ve tested so far on this machine:
- CentOS 5 — This would have been my preference. I couldn’t get past the IDE detection, since the installer kept loading the wrong driver first and finding nothing. The IDE driver
ata_piixis unable to read it, and would prevent the AHCI driver from loading. This is a highly debated bug in the RedHat world, and it seems the developers insist the manufacturer is wrong for not including an option in the BIOS for it. They don’t appear to have any interest in fixing it, and it affects Fedora, as well. Nice.
- openSUSE 11.1 and 11.2 — Both were afflicted by numerous issues. Aside from the same failure to understand which model was appropriate for the ALSA driver, the instructions for debugging are missing critical steps not obvious to ordinary users trying to figure it out. Their whole approach is different from the Debian world, so the above advice may not help at all. However, there were still a large number of minor flaws which have come to characterize SUSE these days.
- Debian Lenny — The installer could never find my Realtek RTL8101E ethernet port. Without having the full DVD on hand, I would not have gotten enough installed to work out a fix. (I didn’t get around to testing Squeeze.)
- Ubuntu 9.04 — Everything was pretty good, but I kept getting random I/O freezes. I would be typing away on something important and the system would lock up hard. A full reboot was required, and I always lost my work — that’s unforgivable. Something in the way the X server interacted with the hardware was very wrong.
Update: (16 Jan 2010) After having some trouble with Ubuntu 9.10, I ran openSUSE 11.2 for quite a while. However, it just wasn’t quite right, either. So I decided to give Karmic one more try, but this time I installed from a Live-Run session. Apparently this made some sort of difference in how the hardware was configured, because it is working far better than the first time.
Novell has taken the safe path like RHEL, in that they don’t include any controversial codecs and such with the distribution. However, unlike RHEL, Novell actually cripples their bundled media players, so that you have to rebuild them, get someone else to do it, or use something else. For most releases up to 11.1, the openSUSE community provides a one-click upgrade to fix all that. You can click here for the KDE desktop and it should immediately try to install.
This has not yet been set up for 11.2, in part because the Packman part of the deal is not yet ready. But there is a repository for it, and it’s part way there. I tracked down the manual route which does the same thing as the one-click. If you don’t want to do Zypper from the commandline, you can, you just have to enable it through YaST: YaST > Software > Software Repositories. Click the “add” button at the lower left-hand corner and select the Community Repositories button. From the list, select Packman and Videolan and that should cover it. Then use YaST to install the packages listed in the instructions there, but not all of them.
There is one thing I don’t understand: Why does the Packman Team insist on forcing 32-bit on a 64-bit system? I’ve never gotten an answer to that. It seems almost obscene, and I don’t know of any other distros or third party supports which do that. It’s not necessary, nor even the best way any more. So don’t install the flash-player and the w32codecs. Instead, go get the codecs package from Mplayer HQ directly, open the package and copy the resulting files to
/usr/lib64/codecs and it should work just fine. You can get the 64-bit Flashplayer directly from Adobe.com. Once you open that package, it’s just a single file you should copy into
Further, as a fan of Opera’s browser suite, let me warn you the version you get from SUSE is broken, trying to add some sort of Qt4 support. Just install Qt3 and use the browser you get directly from Opera; they have one marked for openSUSE 11.2 64-bit. I admit the fonts are ugly on mine, but it’s functional. Flash didn’t work at first, lacking any sound. After poking around, I found the mixer by default had the PCM slider all the way down. After pushing it up to about 75% I got good sound from the Flashplayer. I note in passing the installer didn’t turn on the Pulse Audio, and I didn’t bother trying to change that.
So maybe — just maybe — we will have a SUSE release good enough to keep. It’s been awhile; the last one I kept as long as possible was 8.2.
Because this machine is so new, I realize it will take awhile for my favorite Linux distro to catch up (CentOS). So I use what does work, and it gives me a chance to review other stuff I might not normally touch.
I just finished a couple of weeks with Ubuntu 9.04. It works okay, and there are some nifty tricks, and all. It did install pretty nicely. Still, at times I would get an unexplained X-server lockup. I thought it was caused by Opera, but when I quit using Opera altogether, I still got the freeze. I’d be typing and suddenly the whole thing would freeze up totally — no keyboard, no mouse, nothing. I’d have to do a hard reboot because there was no other access to the system. I can’t have that sort of thing happen just because I’m typing. Since it didn’t happen under other distros, I concluded it’s something in the way Ubuntu implements the drivers and such.
So right now I’m testing openSUSE 11.2-RC1. It’s a good bit better than 11.1, but right now the repos are in flux, so updates and just finding extra packages is a pain. It’s tolerable, but things could be better. I’m waiting for stuff to finalize in two weeks, and I’ll probably keep it. So long as there aren’t any major show-stoppers like that X-server freeze business.
Frankly, I don’t like jumping around from distro to distro. I’m not a hobbyist. I just want to get my work done.