Linux, Open Source & Ubuntu: OpenSUSE 11.1 Takes On Ubuntu, Fedora

 
 
By Jason Brooks  |  Posted 2009-02-12
 
 
 

OpenSUSE 11.1 Takes On Ubuntu, Fedora

by Jason Brooks

OpenSUSE 11.1 Takes On Ubuntu, Fedora

ThinkPad Tab

I was impressed by the "ThinkPad" tab in the system's task manager application because I haven't seen such a tab in the other distributions that also ship with this application. However, the tab was wrong about my system being undocked.

ThinkPad Tab

Docking Applet

On the other hand, OpenSUSE's taskbar-based dock/undock applet did correctly sense my ThinkPad's docking station status.

Docking Applet

Runaway Notifications

I appreciated the option of setting my OpenSUSE installation to fetch and apply updates automatically, but I was occasionally met by runaway system notifications that refused to obey my "Do not show this again" button presses.

Runaway Notifications

Print Error

While I wasn't pleased to see an error when I sought to print a document, I was intrigued by the "Diagnose" button on the error dialog.

Print Error

Printer Debugging

The printer diagnosis applet offered up a status message that wasn't particularly helpful (nothing like "out of paper"), but the tool offered to dig further into the issue.

Printer Debugging

Missing Driver

Apparently, the driver library for my printer was missing.

Missing Driver

HP Driver Pack

I headed over to OpenSUSE's Software Manager application to search out more Hewlett-Packard printer drivers to install. The system's graphical software tool is a bit more complicated than those for Ubuntu and Fedora, but the tool served my needs well.

HP Driver Pack

Zypper

For a simpler installation interface, I turned to OpenSUSE's command-line software install tool, Zypper, to fetch and install the image editing application that I use for screenshot editing.

Zypper

Moonlight

I was able to check out the Silverlight-based content on one of Microsoft's product launch pages through Moonlight, a Linux-friendly version of the Silverlight plug-in based on Mono.

Moonlight

Control Center

For my system administration needs, I could turn to OpenSUSE's Control Center.

Control Center

YAST Control Center

Somewhat confusingly, I could satisfy an overlapping set of system administration needs from OpenSUSE's YAST Control Center.

YAST Control Center

Display Settings

Also confusing were the overlapping tools for configuring my display, mouse and keyboard settings.

Display Settings

Start Menu

The OpenSUSE equivalent of Windows' Start Menu is attractive-looking, but in practice it tends to add more clicks to your application-seeking operations. I'd prefer the search box to update as I typed.

Start Menu

OpenOffice.org 3

OpenSUSE ships with Novell's version of OpenOffice.org 3.0, which rendered Office 2007 files well for me.

OpenOffice.org 3

Build Service Search

OpenSUSE's Firefox installation comes conveniently preconfigured with a search provider for a vital back-end component of the project: the Build Service, with which users may build and host packages for OpenSUSE and other distributions.

Build Service Search

No Prism Here

The package I sought, one for Mozilla's Prism site-specific Web browser, wasn't available in the Build Service, so I set out to build one.

No Prism Here

Naming Issues

The project name I selected was invalid. The Web app offered no guidance on its desired syntax, but, as I would soon learn, I was in the wrong place, anyhow.

Naming Issues

No My Projects for You

I next clicked on the My Projects link in the left-hand navigation bar but was met with another error. Apparently, the Build Service interface is built with Ruby.

No My Projects for You

Home at Last

I next tried clicking on Home Project in the navigation menu, and I appeared to be on the right track at last.

Home at Last

Package Wizard

I crossed my fingers and started out with the Build Service's experimental package wizard.

Package Wizard

More Wizardry

I filled out a short form detailing my maiden packaging effort.

More Wizardry

Another Error

A subsequent page told me that my build status was unavailable. Clicking "trigger rebuild" turned up this error, suggesting that my project required more configuring.

Another Error

Add Repository

Before I could build my package, I had to configure a repository to hold it, which involved specifying which platforms to target. The service's breadth of target platforms is rather impressive.

Add Repository

Build Scheduled

With my repository for OpenSUSE 11.1 configured, my Prism builds were duly scheduled.

Build Scheduled

I Surrender

After a few hours of Prism packaging trial and error (the complexity of the Mozilla build system is a topic for another day) I surrendered, although not without an appreciation for Build Service niceties such as this dynamic build log.

I Surrender

Rocket Fuel