True to schedule, OpenSUSE 11.4 has been released on March 10. It is a GNU / Linux distribution characterized by its ease of use thanks to the administration tool Yast (Yet another Setup Tool), excellent hardware support, one of the best integrating KDE and also for its long installation.
Since the RC1 appeared in February, I have been testing this new version which has surprised me by its great stability despite being release candidate. Also the speed and cleanliness with which it handles Plasma Workspaces from KDE 4. With the final product, we are going to review the news that it brings because they are interesting.
LINUX and GNU: LINUX: WHAT IT IS and HOW IT WORKS
The kernel (2.6.37) includes a modification, Kernel activity patch, which significantly increases the speed of the desktop. Hardware support has been improved with the inclusion of many new drivers. 2D and 3D acceleration is enhanced with inclusion of the latest Xorg and Mesa graphics drivers.
Remarkable the support for multithreading in Ext4 file system, used by default in the distribution and which processors with two or more cores will take advantage of, with a significant increase in performance in disk access operations.
KDE (4.6) is the environment favorite of OpenSuSE, they have been choosing it for years and it works perfectly. Of the distributions I have installed, by far the fastest handling KDE.
GNOME (2.32) with the possibility of testing version 3 Beta. You have a Genbeta test of Gnome Shell with OpenSUSE 11.4 RC1. Now, it just goes better although it is not recommended other than to browse. If you want to work with Gnome on OpenSUSE, use the stable version.
XFCE (4.8), it is a lightweight desktop environment, very attractive, perfectly integrated in this version, which adapts like a glove to machines with low memory RAM.
The distribution has more environments, such as LXDE and lightweight window managers, such as Icewm, Openbox or fvwm2. The list is more complete and from Yast you can investigate all those that the distribution contemplates even if they do not come within the DVD.
OpenSUSE 11.4 is the first of the “major distributions” in the final version that includes the LibreOffice office suite. (3.3.1), created by The Document Foundation. It is a fork of OpenOffice, which is being abandoned in other distributions as well.
Regarding LibreOffice, when checking its good performance in the tests carried out on the RC1, I decided to install it on Windows 7, obtaining the same level of satisfaction. It works really well on both platforms.
As the paradigm becomes popular Cloud Computing, the importance of the browser is greater. We are using more and more tools and services in the cloud. The choice of OpenSUSE has been the default inclusion of Firefox 4 (beta-12).
Chromium 11, included in the distribution but not installed by default and Konqueror, the browser KDE now fully utilizing the capabilities of WebKit, round out the selection of Web browsers.
Any of the three selected provides the benefits expected of them. The choice of the browser is a personal matter. Opera users can install version 11 from the manufacturer’s official website.
OpenSUSE has incorporated the boot loader GRUB (GRand Unified Bootloader) for years now continues to be maintained for compatibility as a charger default, although in RC1 you already had the GRUB2 option. The differences between one version of this package and another are important:
- With GRUB2 you can boot images directly from the hard disk ISO by Live CD.
- It has better graphical support for the boot menu.
- You can configure themes.
- Rescue mode.
- Improved speed and reliability.
- Automatic detection of other operating systems.
Also changes the way of configuring the package, quite different from its predecessor. Choosing one or the other is in your hand, for compatibility and stability GRUBIn a clean installation, GRUB2 can be considered even if it is experimental.
Scribus is an application DTP (Desktop Publishing) cross-platform (Linux /UNIX, Mac OS X, OS / 2 Warp 4 / eComStation and Windows) that debuts on OpenSUSE with this version. With Scribus you can undertake professional desktop publishing work by having color separation, four-color (CMYK), Spot Color support, manage color profiles ICC and creation of PDF. It is a simple-looking yet very powerful tool.
Banshee (1.9.3) manager and media player developed with Mono and GTK #, available for various platforms (GNU / Linux, Mac OS X and Windows), capable of managing audio, video, podcast and audiobooks.
Amarok (2.4.0), the reference audio player in KDE, also multiplatform (*BSD, GNU / Linux, Mac OS X and Windows), which incorporates as a novelty the possibility of encoding files from the package itself.
Rhythmbox (0.13), another Gnome own audio player inspired by Apple’s iTunes, with the ability to import audio from CDs and burn CD audio. From the version you can assume that it is in an early phase of the project. It has experimental support for iPod.
In the video playback section it has Totem (2.32.0), which uses Gstreamer. If you install the Xfce desktop environment, you also have Parole (0.2.0.2), another video player that works equally on Gnome and KDE.
Virtualization is another aspect that extraordinary care has been taken with the inclusion of the latest packages, Xen (4.0.2), VirtualBox (4.0.4) with support for VMDK Y VHD, player and driver for VMware Workstation and KVM (Kernel-based Virtual Machine).
The list in this section is huge, programming languages, compilers, development tools and almost any other that you think of, are at your fingertips with Yast. In the chapter Web servers you have the everlasting Apache (2.2.17), lighttpd (1.4.26) and ngninx (0.8.54), the lightweight cross-platform proxy / web server.
Regarding database servers, it incorporates PostgreSQL (9.0.3), MySQL (5.1.53) community edition and its fork MariaDB (5.1), which is open source and a good alternative to MySQL, since it incorporates other storage engines and optimizations on the server.
I admit that I am not impartial about OpenSUSE, it is my favorite distribution. I have bought it four times from SuSE 5.5 to SuSE 9.0, (previously it was a proprietary product), due to its complete documentation printed.
This product has a good balance between distribution for domestic use, which works on virtually any machine, and server in medium-type networks, being ideal for an SME.
The test has been carried out in virtual machine with excellent performance, I have not noticed big differences with any other distribution installed in a real way. I was struck by the good integration, even visually, between the three desktop environments, since once chosen KDE By default, before installing I selected the others.
In the image gallery you can see various moments of the installation, both the fundamental steps and the software that loads by default.
If you decide to try OpenSUSE 11.4 and it convinces you, keep in mind that the packages contained in the DVD are the ones that provide greater stabilityFrom the repositories you can install any application that is of interest to you through Yast.
It is an option to keep in mind if you like KDE, although it is not the ideal distribution to start in GNU / Linux. In any case, the good thing about this operating system is the variety, use the distribution that best suits you with your preferred desktop.
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