This is a review I wrote for USALUG and submitted to DistroWatch, which was then syndicated to many other Linux news sites internationally. The original thread at USALUG has had over 28800 views since posted on April 17th 2005. Thought I would repost it here for security and posterity.
SuSE 9.3 Professional
By Ryan Trauntvein a.k.a. DeFi
HP Pavilion a450n
3.00Ghz Pentium 4 HT
512MB PC3200 DDR SDRAM
Maxtor 160 GB Hard Disk (130 GB NTFS Win XP Partition exists)
VisionTek Xtasy 9600XT 265MB DDR Graphics Card
Samsung SyncMaster 997DF 19′ Flat CRT Monitor
Onboard Sound / LAN
SuSE 9.1 Personal was the first Linux distribution that I ever installed on my (or any) computer. I immediately fell in love with the great hardware detection, and the ease of install with YaST2. I never really got too much of a chance to try out SuSE 9.2 when that was released. I replaced my computer’s stock Nvidia GeForce FX5200 with the Second Party ATI-Based card, and SuSE 9.2 wouldnt boot. Seeing as ATI has little or no support for Linux drivers, I expected there would be some problems.
Once obtaining the images I burned the five .iso’s to CD’s using K3B on Ubuntu Hoary, and Nero 6 on WinXP. I didn’t have really any reason for doing this, besides that I wanted to burn two CD’s at once to get it done quicker.
Now it was time to boot off of disk one and start my installation.
It started by presenting me with the EULA, which I took a quick through. It seemed to be quite reasonable, and didn’t cause any alarm. Good to know they wont be arresting me or burning my house down anytime soon.
It asked me to select my keyboard layout from a list of about 50 different languages, I chose English, which was the default.
Now it will do some Probing, which led to it detecting my existing Linux partition (Mandrake 10.0 Community). The dialog gives me five choices: New Installation (default), Update Existing Installation, Repair Installation, Boot Installation, or Abort. I chose New Installation, obviously.
YaST2 then takes me to the “Installation Settings” screen. Here I am able to set up my custom partitioning scheme. I choose Expert partitioning, but in my experience the auto partitioning works great too. I made a 12 GB ReiserFS partition and mounted it on / , a 768MB swap , and then a 6.4 GB ReiserFS partition mounted on /home. I also checked the “Encrypt Partition” box for this partition. It then asked me to enter a password for the encryption of the drive. I then entered a 43 character password. (Good luck cracking that!)
I was also able to choose which software packages were installed. It defaults to “Base System with KDE”, but since I prefer to use GNOME, I changed it to “Base System with GNOME”. It also allowed me to choose packages manually, and I added a few games.
Next, I changed the boot loader configuration to be the way I like it. The only user on this system that will be using Linux is myself, so I set the default to Windows XP.
At this point, I noticed that the Time Zone was wrong in the configuration, so I easily switched it to Pacific.
Now I clicked Accept, and another EULA popped up, this time for Flash-Player. Glad to see that its installed by default. It asks me to confirm that I want to install, and I of course click yes.
The actual install is pretty straight forward. Disk 1 installs, and then it tells you that it is going to reboot, and that you need to boot into the partition in which SuSE 9.3 is installed.
I was in the other room at this point, so I missed that message. When I returned, I was booted into Windows XP since it was my default. No problem, just a reboot and switch it to SuSE.
The familiar YaST2 installing screen comes back, and it asks for Disk 2, and 3, and so forth until all the packages are installed.
Now it prompts me to choose a password for the root user, it uses Blowfish encryption by default, so no worries about having to truncate your password.
YaST2 now moves into the Network Configuration setup. By default the Firewall was enabled, and the SSH server was disabled. It also configured my network card via DHCP with no problem.
Once clicking accept, it asks if I would like to test the settings. It will then attempt to download the current Relase notes, and any Updates available at the time. It successfully completed both of these things and then opened YOU (YaST online Update)
YOU let me choose between these mirrors:
Oregon State Univ.
Univ. Southern California
Univ. of Utah
Univ. of Chicago
Atlanta Linux Enthusiasts
I went with USC’s mirror since I am in California, but all the other mirrors look like they would be just as good.
Now it lets me choose which packages to update, and also shows me which additional packages are available to download. Notable ones are: Microsoft True Type Fonts, Four “Multimedia Packs” which have all kinds of tools and utilities for MP3′s, OGG’s, DVD’s, VDC’s, and just about every other format you can think of. There is also the Nvidia Graphics Driver for people with Nvidia cards.
Once clicking ok, you are access to accept some more EULA’s for some packages if you installed them, and it begins to download the files.
A warning popped up notifying me that the Multimedia Pack may create new dependencies which could be resolved with YaST2 module “Add / Remove Software”. No problems there.
YaST now writes the System Configuration, and asks you your preferred user authentication method. The choices offered are: Local, LDAP, NIS, and Samba. I chose Local since I do not use those other protocols.
Now it is time to add the a Local User, so I added myself. Very straight forward.
The installer now displays the release notes, some notable things were:
OpenOffice.org 2.0 Pre-release version
Beagle Desktop Search (not enabled by default, run “touch .runbeagle” in $HOME to start the daemon in GNOME).
The installer then displayed the Hardware Configuration screen, it all looked fine. I decided to check the printer settings, and try to print a test page…which never printed…
I just accepted the hardware Configuration, and was told that the installation was complete.
What I thought would happen happened:
Just as I had expected, I was greeted with a blinking “HZ?” symbol on my monitor. I switched to a root console, and ran the command “sax2 -l” which started the SaX2 X configuration utility win a low resolution mode. I had to manually enter some values for the screen refresh, and then tested it. It worked, but its not perfect and 3D acceleration does not work.
I then rebooted, and this time the SuSE 9.3 login screen appeared. Once I logged in, SuSE Plugger detected my Kensington USB mouse and set up the configuration automatically. The desktop looks nice, and fits well with everything else.
So far I have had no major issues with SuSE 9.3 Professional other than the initial problems with my video card, and the printer not printing. The printer is probably an easy fix, so I’m not too worried. All my webradio streams work flawlessly with Real Player 10, USALUG.org opened right up in FireFox, and the FAD Client installation was as easy as ever.
SuSE 9.3 Professional is a very solid distribution, definitely a step above 9.1 and 9.2. SuSE is getting close to being the premier Linux desktop, it just as a few things to work out. Most of the problems I encountered were not to be blamed on Novell and SuSE, but on the manufacturers of my hardware (GFX card & Printer). I plan to stick with SuSE 9.3 as my desktop OS at home for the time being. It is very similar to what I use at work (Novell Linux Desktop 9), which allows me to easily exchange .rpm’s and other files between work and home. Besides all of that, SuSE very stable, and a lot of fun to work with. Be sure to give SuSE 9.3 Professional a try when it is publicly available, you should enjoy it.
Written For http://www.USALUG.org