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openSUSE 11.2-- Incremental Updates, Plenty of Polish - page 2

New and Improved

  • November 20, 2009
  • By Paul Ferrill

The openSUSE download page provides a super clean way to pick your distribution and download it efficiently. Direct downloads over HTTP are support, but you can also choose to use a Bittorrent client should you choose. Both 32- and 64-bit offerings support the latest and greatest hardware along with the majority of legacy machines. Chances are you can pick the 64-bit option if you have an Intel or AMD based computer built within the last year or so.

figure 2
figure 2

Downloading the full distribution will queue up a 4.7 GB transfer, so be sure you have enough free space on your hard drive. There are also two versions of openSUSE 11.2 available as a "Live-CD" so you can try it out before actually installing it to a hard drive. One version will present you with a GNOME desktop environment while the other uses KDE. Don't expect too much in the way of performance as you'll see a definite lag each time you start up a new application while it loads from the CD.

This release supports Hybrid ISOs allowing you to boot from a USB key to test drive or install the OS. This makes installation on a Netbook or small form factor laptop without a CD-ROM drive much easier. Applications load much quicker from a USB disk so it gives you a much better feel for how the OS will really work. You will have to enter a single command line instruction to create the USB key from an ISO file, but it shouldn't be a problem even for novice users. The command line is:

sudo dd if= of= bs=4M

The only trick here is determining the device name of your USB key. We tested this out on a Dell XPS 1330 laptop by booting from the GNOME Live CD and then creating a bootable USB. On a side note, openSUSE 11.2 recognized the built-in Sprint Wifi card on this Dell laptop and connected the first time over EVDO. To find out the physical device name of the USB disk you can use the fdisk command as shown in Figure 3. In our case this turned out to be /dev/sdb.

figure 3
figure 3

Next, you must provide the path to the ISO file. For us this file was on a Windows NTFS partition (/dev/sda3). openSUSE 11.2 had no problems accessing this partition and allowing us to create the bootable USB disk from a root prompt with this command:

# dd if=/media/OS/Users/Paul/Downloads/openSUSE-11.2-GNOME-LiveCD-i686.iso of=/dev/sdb bs=4M

Bottom Line

openSUSE 11.2 is a solid incremental update to a popular distribution. It has enough new and improved stuff in it to make it a definite upgrade for current users. For the curious it's definitely worth a hard look. On the flip, side this version is not without warts. Issues like proprietary wireless drivers (Broadcom) and some annoyances with Intel 845 graphics will cause newbies to cringe. If you cruise the openSUSE forums, you'll find workarounds for the most common issues. So go ahead and give it a spin. It might be just what you're looking for.


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