16 September 2012

openSUSE 12.2 Broken Edition


WARNING. I have written a retraction / clarification post. You may want to read it.

Yes I said it. Broken beyond repair! Oh great Cthulhu, why do you punish us so? What have we done to deserve this, how have we insulted thine spirit? Why is your wrath so unforgiving?

If we look at the 12.2 release of openSUSE as a whole as we should in order to make a fair and balanced assessment, we would come to the conclusion that it is a mixed bag. I have no comments about the OS being used as a server, except that it rulzez. If you are a criminal mastermind planing world domination and/or destruction then openSUSE is right for you. No matter if it is used as a propaganda web-server, evil-domain controller or unified nuclear launch computer, openSUSE has got you covered. Fast stable reliable and easy to configure. openSUSE's kinship with SLES and its lineage of one great release after another are clearly evident through it's kickassery!

The nouveau driver
But we are not going to make a fair and balanced assessment of openSUSE. We are going to look specifically at it as a desktop environment, in the new to Linux user context. And in that context it is also a mixed bag, but a bag mixed with dead rats and a pedophile. Although I haven't tried openSUSE with the LXDE or XFCE desktop environments, I imagine they are it's last chance to be usable. At work I use openSUSE 12.1 with Gnome Shell, and it is a masterpiece of usability. I have already become familiar with it and I can say that I am a gnome shell type of guy. And I wanted this greatness at home. But unfortunately the people making the distro have never been at the nouveau wiki website, where the nouveau developer team pretty much admit that their code is useless crap. So I would ask if there was anybody in the openSUSE team that ever tried Gnome with the nouveau driver?

This wouldn't be a big issues because I had the same problem on 12.1 , nouveau has always sucked so you just go and get the nvidia proprietary driver. I realize that there is a great hippie influence in the Linux ecosystem that precludes some distributions from having proprietary drivers built in. But freedom or not if the system isn't usable you are wasting your time. Here is a lesson that every distro can learn from Ubuntu, have driver support. Although I really love openSUSE, I still recommend Ubuntu for new to Linux users.

Once the artifact issues caused by the nouveau driver where resolved I was presented with this screen. "Oh no! Something has gone wrong." I'm going to punch the first gnome developer I find. What? What has gone wrong? I wasted 3 days of graphics driver and kernel settings experiments, my google bill for this month will bankrupt me. And all because of this useless screen. And if you google this everybody has the same stupid idea "Video issue". No, it was actually my wacom bamboo drawing pad. You heard me. A piece of hardware that had no issues whatsoever on Linux Mint 11 (very old at this point), precludes Gnome 3 from working at all.

An there isn't a real problem here, the drawing pad works perfectly and gnome also works but you can't use it since there is this useless message in front of your windows. I'm not sure who to blame for this. I think the wacom people should test their hardware on all supposedly supported systems. While I was fighting with this issues I had KDE installed as a backup, and there is nothing new in the KDE camp as far as I can see, but that doesn't mean that I'm not going to hate on them.

KDE, breaks my heart! By far the most beautiful desktop ever made, nothing surpasses it's visual appeal. KDE is my favorite desktop to look at, and if I had an extra machine that I didn't need it would only stay in the corner with the plasma desktop as a piece of art. But there is no force on earth that could make me use it. A day in it and I was foaming at the mouth. First, the desktop icons widget disappeared every time I rebooted the system. Second, there is no way to explain to the clock widget that the hardware clock isn't set to UTC so I was always 3 hours or so in the future. Third, there is always some process that is currently installing or uninstalling or doing something else that I didn't ask for and if I decide that I want to install something I am presented with the option to wait or to ask this mysterious process to quit and wait. Fourth, the fonts look beautifully but they are unreadable, so when I change them so that I can actually read something it just looks bad.

Another issue I want to cry about is software support. The reason for this is of course the fact that 12.2 is still very new. I can't have a computer around me that doesn't have VLC installed on it, and on the VLC website there are one click installs for a lot of openSUSE versions but not for 12.2 . You can get some things you need from the packman repo and for some you will wait if you cant compile from source.

If you are thinking "Who would use this, it sounds bad?"! I would! For a new user, a hypothetical every man that is on Linux because he doesn't know what a torrent is and doesn't want to pay for Windows I would point to Ubuntu. For me, a geek who likes tinkering and is capable of resolving most problems that could occur, openSUSE is a rare gift. It breaches the gap of homebrew FOSS and the best that Microsoft and Apple can produce in the realm of ready for market finished products. This ladies and gentleman is an operating system that can fit the bill for everything from home entertainment to a high grade service providing, made so that it is usable for development and production for work and play. After this rant I need to think of something positive to write about openSUSE that will balance it out. So I will live with the lizard for a month and then review it again.

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Keep it to the point and not too rude!!!