Desktop Linux Trio Offers Look at Whats To Come - Page 2

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However, OpenSUSE and Fedora have both made strides toward bridging the free/non-free software divide. I was impressed that, upon attempting to play an unsupported video type under Fedora, the distributions new Codec Buddy tool pointed me toward a Web site from which I could purchase the required codecs legally.

I was pleased to see that the OpenSUSE project has reached out to vendors and projects to set up OpenSUSE software repositories for the particular components that these groups provide. For instance, the ATI driver I sought for OpenSUSE was hosted by ATI, and the MadWifi driver I sought for enabling the Atheros wireless network adapter in my test notebook was hosted by the MadWifi project.

A number of open-source project repositories for OpenSUSE—including sites for acquiring official and test, Mozilla, KDE and GNOME binaries—are hosted through OpenSUSEs Build Service. With this service, developers can take advantage of Novell-provided build resources to create packages tailored for OpenSUSE or other distributions.

Beyond the improvements that each distribution has made regarding improved access to software components that cannot ship on their install media, the latest versions of Ubuntu, OpenSUSE and Fedora each boasts advances in tools for adding, removing and updating software packages.


To read about why Linux is stuck playing catch-up with Windows 2000, click here.

OpenSUSE, which has undergone a major package management framework overhaul during its past few releases, appears to have settled down in Version 10.3. New in this version is a command-line package management tool called zypper that does the best job of any command-line software tool Ive used at presenting information in a concise and easy-to-read format.

Its fortunate that zypper works so well, because I found that its graphical cousin had the annoying habit, upon launch, of spawning a procession of pop-up status windows (one for each separate repository Id configured). I found that each of these windows stole the focus from whatever other application I was using at the time.

Also worthy of note for OpenSUSE 10.3 is the distributions support for delta RPMs—package updates that contain only the changed bits, saving bandwidth and time, particularly with large packages. Delta RPM support isnt new in 10.3, but its a feature that neither Fedora 8 nor Ubuntu 7.10 yet offers.

On Fedora 8, I noted that the systems graphical and text-based software management tools have grown faster since Fedora 7. Other than this speedup and the new Codec Buddy feature, I found little else to report on the Fedora package management front. The projects package management tool efforts appear to be stalled at the moment, perhaps in preparation for the new, cross-distribution PackageKit front end slated for inclusion in Fedora 9.

In previous Linux distribution reviews, Ive expressed my preference for Ubuntus software management tools over those of its rivals, and the release of Ubuntu 7.10 hasnt changed that preference.

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