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May 17, 2006

SUSE Linux 10.1… explained?

by @ 6:40 am. Filed under General SUSE, My Opinion

Tristan, Gabriel,

Tell ya’ what, I can certainly appreciate a difference in taste (despite my partiality to appearing one-sided… I only do that for personal amusement), that’s for sure. I’ve heard from several others who hail from other distros that the single point of utter disdain for SUSE is YAST. Joke’s on me, I guess. I actually find it fairly easy to run as compared to the package management systems I’ve used on other distros. Perhaps that’s because it’s been so long. Maybe they weren’t quite as matured as they are, now. Maybe I’m just so used to knowing where to look for which options.

One thing I can say is that as you say, the preferences are quite spread out. My kneejerk reaction is to say that SYSTEM configuration options would be centralized mostly in YAST, whereas DESKTOP configuration options (display, fonts, window behavior, etc.) appear mostly in the control center of your desktop environment. Also, more of the user-centric options are in the given desktop’s control center where you don’t need a password to change them. They only affect the account under which they are changed. If you are looking for firewall configuration, runlevel settings, or software installation, those things affect the entire system, and are therefore located in YAST.

I guess it would be kind of difficult to integrate the different groups of settings. One group belongs to the desktop environment. The other to the system.

However, it might be interesting to note that the YAST modules are all accessible from the KDE Control Center. Thus, in theory, you do have all of the settings in one place. The more difficult part, as you mentioned is sorting through everything. I, myself, don’t remember ever being completely ecstatic with how things have been organized in menus and such. Seems like they could always do with a little extra pruning or consolidation.

Personally, it feels like SUSE is actually evolving quite heavily. Even in minor version upgrades, there are some pretty significant changes. It seems to me that the reason that many things are found in multiple places is because they don’t want to make waves. Huh? Well, I’ll use Novell Linux Desktop, for a classic example. On NLD, many people are used to using Red Carpet in Gnome (the default desktop). However, the SUSE users are more used to YAST. Therefore, almost all of the package installation/update functionality is found in both places. Initially, I thought about how much of a waste of time that was to be maintaining the two different systems. However, I had it explained to me that they do it that way to keep everyone happy until they consolidate it into one system.

They’re working to make things easier, and to make them make better sense. Having seen the differences between SUSE 9.1, 9.2, 9.3, 10.0, and 10.1, I can, with confidence, say that each successive release gets easier to use, and makes a little more sense than before. I cannot deny that it has a fair amount of room for improvement. Because of that, and with things like Xgl coming down the pipe, I have good reasons to look forward to each release! 🙂

As for the auto-updates, you can configure this during the installation of SUSE. There is a step, about 3/4 of the way through the installation process. First, you test your Internet connection. Then, you are taken to a step called ONLINE UPDATE where you can select “Configure Later” or “Configure Now (Recommended)” as radio buttons. The default is to configure now. While that particular option doesn’t appear to be fully-functional right now, I’m sure that update servers will be available very soon, which will enable that option to work. It’s usually after a full release that stuff like that is addressed. I would be very surprised if that wasn’t available within 2 weeks. It very likely will be available much sooner than that, even. Anyway, that’s my bet as to why your updates are not working. There is no server available for updates yet, because there are no updates yet, because the OS was just barely released.

In short, I don’t know why they did it like they did. Maybe I’ll hop on the horn with Andreas Jaeger (we had lunch once, myself and he and his wife. They are pretty cool people. 🙂 ) one of these days and ask him if they have any intention of doing things a little more simply. I think that, if they could do a two-level system like the one you describe in Ubuntu, they’d be in really nice shape. I don’t see that happening for a while, though. Although SUSE is one of the Enterprise-level commercial platforms, there are obviously some improvements that could and will be made, I’m sure.


I hope that was what you were asking. If not, ask again, and use smaller words. 🙂

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