OpenSUSE 11.1 Takes On Ubuntu, Fedora

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OpenSUSE 11.1 Takes On Ubuntu, Fedora

by Jason Brooks

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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.

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Docking Applet

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Missing Driver

Apparently, the driver library for my printer was missing.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Control Center

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

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YAST Control Center

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

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Display Settings

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

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Package Wizard

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

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More Wizardry

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

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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.

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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.

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Build Scheduled

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