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DistributionWatch Review: SuSE Linux 7.0 Personal/Professional
Geeko the Gecko? Urgh!
September 29, 2000
In the interests of full disclosure, I must reveal that I participated in the "Name-the-SuSE-lizard" contest last February at the Manhattan LinuxWorld. My entry of "Get the Hell Away From Me You Big Green Thing!" did not win, for some reason, and I freely admit I hold no bitterness towards SuSE for picking the name "Geeko" instead. Really.
As the Linux community holds its collective breath waiting for the 2.4 kernel, which is starting to get to be more anticipated than the Land of Milk and Honey was to that bunch of lost Hebrews a few thousand years ago, each new Linux distribution released these days gets scrutinized for features that might help ease the wait.
Red Hat 7.0's recent release was ransacked by the user community, looking for the next Big Thing. The response has been less than overwhelming thus far. But while all the hoopla about Red Hat was going on here in the States, the latest release from Deutschland has quietly been causing a stir of its own, first in its home country, and now here.
SuSE Linux 7.0, the latest offering from the Germany-based SuSE GmbH, comes in two distinct offerings--Personal and Professional--as well as an Upgrade version for current SuSE users. Superficially, there is little difference between the products, even in price. The SuSE Linux 7.0 Personal costs a mere $39.95, the Upgrade version $49.95, and the Professional version just $69.95, should you choose to pick them up off the shelf. Downloading is available, as with most Linux distributions, but in this instance, I strongly recommend plunking down the cash for this distro.
Tale of the Tape
The two versions I review here, Personal and Professional, both come with well-written documentation, including (in the Professional version) a very complete near-600-page Technical Handbook that answers a lot of questions for both new and mid-level Linux users. The Configuration manual that comes in both editions was also full of real-world examples to get you going including a detailed section on getting an IDE CD-RW drive working with SCSI emulation in Linux, something I personally have been wrestling with these past few weeks.
The documentation alone is worth the price, not to mention the ease of use you get having an enormous number of packages on hand to install instead of having to find them online and then download them through a small pipe, if you are so cursed.
How enormous? Well, the Personal edition, targeted at home or office users who have had little to no exposure to Linux, ships with a nice neat number of 700 apps, all on 3 CDs. The Professional edition shatters that number with a whopping 1987 applications available, if you want them. Shipping will all of those packages means a whopping 6 CDs come in the box, or, if you've can handle it, one DVD.
The Upgrade version, geared to pull current SuSE users up to 7.0, includes all of the packages shipping with the Professional version--a nice reward for current SuSE customers.
The installation support for both versions are pretty standard for the industry: 60 days for Personal and Upgrade and 90 days for the Professional edition. Other support includes a pretty large support database on the SuSE Web site that I found easy to use in terms of functionality and clarity. I ran searches for several terms and found on-target results for most everything, though I had to try one search for CD writer drives a couple of times to get it nailed down. Every article I found had an equivalent translation in at least two other languages (usually French and German), with Spanish and Czech translations appearing as well. Both versions promoted support that was available via WAP cell phones, but I was unable to test this feature.
The Professional version included an offer for a trial membership in the Oracle Technology Network, and free Oracle software to download and check out, which I also did not test.