While openSUSE is my preferred distribution for server installations, my desktop use of it has been somewhat more sporadic. However, while reformatting my laptop from Mint to a Windows 7-Linux dual boot, I decided to give 11.3 a try. Here is a short post about my experience and impressions:
I have tried this in the past and have generally gotten poor results. However, I really like the concept of network installations, so I thought I would see if any improvements were made with 11.3. Alas, my experience was similar to how it was with previous releases. The first attempt failed entirely, so I tried it again. The second network installation finished, but I could only boot in failsafe mode after it was done. It seems that some packages get corrupted or don’t install at all. With this kind of success rate, it still just isn’t robust enough for real world use. Onto a different installation method…
Long story short, this was a fantastic experience. I downloaded the LiveCD image, installed the imagewriter utility, and it all worked as advertised. I was really impressed with how simple of a process this actually turned out to be. As an added bonus, the installation went about 1 1/2 times faster than it would have with a LiveCD.
While I am personally more of a Gnome user, I am really starting to enjoy what the latest in KDE has to offer. In addition, the openSUSE developers have done a great job of polishing the distribution’s presentation. The GRUB menu, splash screen, login window, and desktop look unified and generally very good. I made a couple of desktop tweaks to fit my preferences, and the customizing experience was much better than with previous KDE versions. The only problem is that the power manager does not recognize changes in my AC adapter status. This is a known and filed bug, so I hope this gets fixed sometime in the near future.
Even in the short couple of years that I have been using openSUSE, I have seen it come a long way. Network installation still has issues, it took a little while to find information on installing the Broadcom wireless driver, and the power manager could use a little work. Other than those details, I would have to say that this release is really solid and provides a really clean user interface. Keep up the good work, openSUSE!