Back to article
Distribution Watch Review: SuSE Linux 7.1 Personal/Professional
Pack It Up and Go Home: SuSE's Created a Windows-Killer
March 1, 2001
Okay, that's it, we can all go home now.
SuSE Linux 7.1, which was released a bit late in the United States, has finally hit the shelves and if there was ever a distribution Linux users could point to and say "this is the one that can replace Windows," then this is the one.
Bold words? Hardly. I mean, let's face it, any Linux user has always known that the penguin can run rings around most anything that comes out of Redmond. But getting this across to the hypnotized Window users of the world has been difficult, to say the least. SuSE's latest offering is a platform you could install out of the box, plunk a Windows user in front of it, and they could work with it. Not tweak it, not play with it, work with it. This is the distribution Corel Linux wanted to be: easy to use for newbies, with all of the power of Linux.
Opening the Box
The interesting thing here that there has not been a huge dramatic change since the SuSE's 7.0 release. You won't be looking at this and wondering why SuSE changed everything, because in truth, they hardly changed anything.
Oh sure, all of the packages have been updated to their latest versions, and by now SUSE's up to KDE 2.0.1, KDevelop 1.3, and kernel 2.4 out of the box. But here and there, little updates have been made that really tightened up this distribution.
The version I tested for this review was the Professional version, which still has a whopping 7 CDs or a DVD as the installation medium. The price is the same as Professional 7.0, too: $69.95. That gets you over 2000 apps and several pretty complete documents, including a 615-page handbook.
The Personal edition comes with about half the applications on just 3 CDs, but much of the same documentation is included. Price-watchers should take note: the Personal edition has been tagged at $29.95--$10 lower than Personal 7.0.
The installation support for both versions much the same from 7.0: 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 and decent online help documents.
For this review, I performed two installations: upgrading my current SuSE 7.0 partition to 7.1, and then doing a clean install. The test machine was an AMD K6 300 MHz Linux box, with a previously ext2-partitioned section of the primary IDE drive.
Getting a Running Start
If you like to skip to the end of stories, then I'll just tell you now that the upgrade installation completed its task and leave it at that.
For those of you who like the meat of the story, let me give you a piece of advice: copy your data somewhere else and do a clean install. This is about the only part of using SuSE 7.1 that I really think needs the most work. The upgrade installation took forever. I am not kidding here. Now, admittedly a lot of this was my fault. I chose the option to update everything I had, and I had forgotten that my previous installation was the "everything but the kitchen sink" option. So, I made SuSE install over some 1100-plus packages.
But even with the sheer numbers, upgrading a package seems to be a much slower practice than just installing them straight. Which was why it took 10 hours to perform the upgrade. Keep in mind that if you need to upgrade a smaller amount of packages, then the upgrade procedure might not be so bad. Still, bring a book.
It was during the upgrade that I did run into a real problem. YaST2 seemed to get confused about which screen to go to during the manual selection of packages phase. I ended up running through this action twice and I am still not sure why.
Once it was finally finished, I was left with a near duplicate of my old setup, only with a few more toys to play with.
The clean installation went a lot faster, package for package. I chose the Default with Office package group, with the 2.4 kernel and a ReiserFS root partition. Everything went flawlessly, with network and graphics cards detected perfectly. I had a little hiccup with my monitor, but its the same hiccup I always have, so I don't think it's a SuSE issue.