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December 11, 2006

DVDs, MP3s, and everything else on openSUSE 10.2

by @ 8:32 am. Filed under General SUSE, review, SUSE releases

After receiving the news of the final release of openSUSE 10.2, it seemed a good idea to take a look at it on my laptop. Additionally, it seemed a good idea to give Andreas Jaeger (Nice guy, by the way. We had lunch at Ruby Tuesday once.), Michael Loeffler, and all the great SUSE people the benefit of the doubt. With 10.1 there were major issues with the package manager. It was reasonable to believe that they’d be on high alert to keep any such problems from happening with 10.2. Thus, it was downloaded, put on the nearest blank DVD, and promptly installed onto my laptop, the specs of which are as follows:

Yes, a beast unparalleled in power and speed, I know.

For some reason unknown to all of humanity, when reviewing a given distribution (or version thereof), you have to include at least something about the installation. This next bit will satisfy such requirements.

The installation process of openSUSE is as foolproof and easy as it can possibly be. It felt quite familiar with one sincerely major improvement.

First, let me preface this by explaining that waiting for things gives me cancer. I would rather embed railroad spikes into my face than wait for stuff. This is further aggravated when there is no kind of feedback that something is ocurring that will eventually lead to accomplishment of the desired goal.

As a total random and hypothetical example: Let’s say that during the installation of your favorite Linux distribution, it checks for an Internet connection. As part of this test, it will install an update source for you so that you can get security patches and such updates. Let’s say that this process takes no less than 15 minutes (yes it does, I timed it). And provides no feedback that it is working properly and has not hung.

This pretty much equals me in a straight jacket in a padded room and no sharp objects within 12 miles of said room.

Well, that’s what would happen during the installation of SUSE 10.1. I would have to grab my favorite Lycia/Enya/Lewellyn CD, go out onto my living room couch, and get my therapist on the phone while coping with the trauma of waiting for this to finish. Once I tried waiting through this step just sitting in front of the computer. I woke up the next day with thirteen stitches in my face and my cat had mysteriously disappeared.

Much to my delight, in openSUSE 10.2, throughout the steps of detecting the Internet connection and setting up installation sources and update sources, I counted about 65 feedback dialogs with slick little progress bars and even textual descriptions of what was happening. Boy, late at night with a little caffeine, ADD can make this part actually quite mesmerizing. All the progress bars, dialog boxes, and everything are actually quite interesting to watch. It is also very helpful to know that one is waiting for something that is actually making progress.

Did I mention that I liked the progress bars while waiting for stuff? That is one very nice thing for users to have: feedback when something is happening, so that we know why we’re waiting for things.

Oh, it also took only about 60 seconds to set up the update source as opposed to around 15 minutes in 10.1. The openSUSE folks sure made some progress with the experience design, if nothing else.

One thing that received nothing from me but a 30-second blank stare was this bizarre menu that appeared when I clicked on the K Menu (KDE all the way, baby):



Come again? What the heck is that? Before getting too excited, I tried out the right-click function on that menu. There was an option that said, “Switch to KDE Menu Style,” which I attacked unflinchingly. To my delight, the familiar K Menu gear icon appeared. Clicking it yielded the menu I had come to know and love.

I’m not sure what was happening there with that other menu, but I personally don’t like it a bit. Anyone who knows, please help me understand that one.

As a bit of obsessive compulsion, I have this small guide that I’ve written for myself that allows me to customize KDE to work EXACTLY how I want it to. That’s nice, because when I expect something to work a certain way, and it doesn’t, it usually ends up broken, melted, or launched off the nearest overpass. To avoid such incidents with KDE, my handy little setup guide comes in quite…. well…. handy.

After getting that all squared away, I headed into Firefox. openSUSE 10.2 comes with Firefox 2, which is quite slick, I must say. It’s very nice to use. Especially with my favorite plugins: Adblock Plus, Fasterfox, and Bookmark Sync and Sort. If you have any that you recommend, please let me know so I can enjoy them, too.

Next, you’d think that I would install all my software. Well, before you can do that, it’s a good idea to set up your installation sources, so that you can get all the latest software the first time you install it. Otherwise, you install the software, put in your install sources, and then update the software. As this implies waiting, and because of my aversion to cancer, I don’t do it that way.

The installation sources I used for openSUSE 10.2 (32-Bit) are as follows:

Note the nVidia install source. If you are using ATI, I recommend instead of the nVidia one.

If you are unfamiliar with how to set up installation sources, see the “Installation Sources” section of my guide for doing this on SUSE 10.0.

After I set all these babies up, I clicked FINISH, and a dialog box came up that said, “Synchronizing with ZENworks.” Unfortunately, this box was up for like three minutes with no feedback. Just as I was deciding whether to reach for the Xanax or a claw hammer, the box disappeared, and the Installation Sources window closed with it.

So far, we are in great shape.

I then headed into YAST and updated packages to any newer versions that may exist. If you are not familiar with how to do this, please see the “Global Package Version Update” section of my guide for doing this on SUSE 10.0.


Realistically, I must throw this in: I don’t recommend performing a system-wide unconditional update on all packages for a production machine. ESPECIALLY if that machine is a server. ESPECIALLY if that machine is a server you are running at work.


So, I just went head and did an unconditional system-wide package update, because having bleeding edge packages makes you a l33t h4X0R.

Next up: Making the thing play DVDs.

Really, it’s about this easy:

Uninstall whatever version of xine that you have installed.

Add Packman as an installation source.

Install the xine package from Packman (you may want to disable all other install sources, just to make sure it comes from Packman for sure).

Install the libdvdcss package, also.

Sleepy Hollow actually plays quite decently on that laptop.

Next, go into YAST and install Amarok, Helix, Mplayer, w32codec-all, and all packages related to xine. That will get you playing MP3s and the various video files you’ll find around on the Internet.

Multimedia-enabled, I went ahead and installed my other programs like gaim, thunderbird, xchat, and a subversion client.

My first impressions? I like the improvements. It is the first one that feels like something my mom could use, and something my dad could likely install. Gone are the days of Linux being for tech geeks only. If you have been thinking about trying out Linux, now is a great time to install openSUSE 10.2. I think you’ll be glad that you did.

Here are some other reviews, etc., about openSUSE 10.2:

OpenSUSE Linux Rants
Official OpenSUSE Linux Site

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