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SUSE 9.3: More, Better, Faster, Now! - page 3

Cutting Edge and Oh, So Stable

  • May 16, 2005
  • By Bill von Hagen

Figure 4 shows the default SUSE KDE desktop with a Konsole and their pre-release of Open Office 2.0 displayed (showing the part of their installation slide show that discusses Open office). As always, SUSE provides a nice theme and background with easily interpreted and attractive icons. Like any other KDE instance, you can, of course, trick out to your heart's content, but the defaults are quite usable if you like SUSE's mascot.

The following table shows the versions of some of the most popular GNU/Linux software packages found in SUSE 9.3. For those who might be new to Linux, this table lists the base versions of the Evolution mail client, the binutils, GCC, GDB, and Glibc packages for compilation and debugging, the GNOME and KDE desktop systems and their graphical underpinnings in the X Window System, the Perl and Python scripting languages, the Open Office desktop productivity software package, the Linux kernel itself, and the RPM package management system.

PackageVersion
binutils2.15.94
Evolution2.2.1-7
Firefox1.0.3-1
GCC3.3.5-5
GDB6.3-14
GIMP2.2.4-3
Glibc2.3.4-23
GNOME2.10.0-4
KDE3.4.0-28
Kernel2.6.11.4-20a
OpenOffice.org1.9.79-9
Perl5.8.6-5
Python2.4-14
RPM4.1.1-208
Samba3.0.13-1
X Window System6.8.2-20 (x.org)

As you can see from this list, almost all of these applications are pretty close to the latest and greatest unless one wanted to suck code from the keyboard buffers of various Open Source developers around the world. I was somewhat surprised that no pre- or official release of GCC 4.0 seemed to be included, but I suppose that it's not too much to ask for me to build something--everything else I am traditionally interested on was installed by my JIC approach.

One especially interesting package included with SUSE 9.3 is the Xen virtualization monitor and platform. Xen provides a simple, low-level operating system that enables multiple instances of other operating systems to run "on top of it," synchronizing and scheduling device access and other system resources across those virtual systems. When running multiple Linux systems using Xen, the systems that run on top of the Xen machine monitor shouldn't require any kernel tweaks, but just in case SUSE 9.3 includes a pre-configured Xen-aware kernel to simplify the experimentation and exploration process.

Xen is a GPL'd Open Source project, originally developed at the University of Cambridge in the UK. I've mentioned VMware elsewhere in this review, which provides similar functionality in a commercial product, but Xen is extremely promising and exciting as an open source alternative with potential preformance improvements due to the fact that Xen's virtual machines can easily use hardware, such as separate disk partitions, directly. As far as I know, though the Fedora project includes Xen and Red Hat has talked about it, SUSE is the first commercial Linux vendor to actually ship a distribution that includes Xen.

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