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SUSE/openSUSE Linux has been my favourite OS since I first started using it several years ago, and compared to the many Ubuntu derivatives out there, it doesn’t really get the recognition it deserves as a professional and highly configurable operating system. Even if there’s been some doubt over the project’s future since Novell got acquired, it still has a strong developer community behind it.

I found myself making another clean installation of openSUSE this week after having problems with a laptop, and the latest version of openSUSE (11.4) was my first choice. It’s available as a full 4GB+ download, but I decided to install and build on the much smaller KDE Live release.

Installing From the Live CD
One thing I’ve found with openSUSE is the live OS can be very sluggish, while the installed OS will run perfectly even on older systems. Of course, this means the default installer can be prohibitively slow, with all the graphics demanding most the computing resources. A good solution for this is to launch yast2 from the command line, or go straight to the installer without launching the live OS.

Changes from the Previous Version
On the surface it appears little has changed since the last version I was using, except KDE now looks more like a mix between Windows 7 and the Mac OS interface. The layout of the task manager, the Plasma desktop and the default range of software are mostly uchanged, but the developers have managed to make things slightly more ‘user friendly’ without compromising on the advanced features. OpenOffice has been replaced with LibreOffice, which has cleaner and more stable code.

openSUSE 11.4 KDE

One disadvantage could be the number of packages available from the software manager’s default repositories is still noticeably more limited than with Ubuntu, but many other repositories could be added without too much difficulty.

Also included is better support for virtualisation, and the full version of openSUSE and its repositories include Xen, VirtualBox and the Kernel Virtual Machine, along with a manual for setting up KVM. I’ve also noticed the addition of various utilities for better resource sharing and interoperability between a group of networked SUSE Linux machines, including clustering and the ability to access particular applications, desktops and files from a remote system.

Get openSUSE Linux here…