Excellent Management The application library complexity from which Windows suffers, commonly known as "DLL hell," can afflict Linux systems as well, but whereas Windows attempts to conceal this complexity from userswith varying degrees of successLinux systems provide users with tools to work through these issues. As a result, software installation and maintenance for Linux can be daunting, and the tools associated with these tasks must assume a heavier load than those for Windows.With the graphical software package configuration tool that ships with Red Hat 8.0, your options are basicgood for installing software from your Red Hat disks but not for much else. Alternatively, theres RPM (RedHat Package Manager) a command-line package management tool with which you can do pretty much anything, once youve mastered it. However, few have the time to master it, which is why a GUI tool is important. RPM is also part of SuSE Linux, but SuSEs graphical front end to it, while more challenging than that in Red Hat, is the more effective tool. With it, we were able to search for packages, sort through software dependencies, and make installation and update decisions based on the information we found. We also liked SuSEs facility for conducting online updateswith one major exception. The trouble was that wed often have to wait a long time for the updater to initialize, possibly because of busy servers, and there was no way to stop this waitingno cancel button that would allow us to stop, for example, and select another, potentially less busy update site. On our last test of the updater, as "one moment" stretched to 30 minutes, we were tempted to take the perhaps inelegant step of killing the update process, which wouldve meant becoming superuser through the command linesomething a mainstream desktop user would not be comfortable doing. As we all came to learn with Windows 9x, killing runaway programs is part of computing, and this is another task wed like to see made easier in SuSE. Senior Analyst Jason Brooks can be reached at email@example.com.
SuSEs software installation and management tools are one of the brightest spots in its Linux offering, occupying a middle ground between simplicity/feebleness and obscurity/power thats left bare in Red Hat 8.0.