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News and Editorials

A Quick Look at SUSE Linux 10.0

October 19, 2005

This article was contributed by Ladislav Bodnar

I have to admit that I have never been a big fan of SUSE Linux. With the boxed sets not available in my part of the world, coupled with prohibitive international shipping costs in online stores, the only option for obtaining SUSE Linux, until recently, was to wait patiently for the distribution's RPM package tree to appear on its servers and perform a remote FTP install. This usually happened 2 - 3 months after the official product release, by which time other distributions might have released newer versions with more up-to-date packages and perhaps more exciting features.

After SUSE was acquired by Novell, things began to change. Version 9.1 was the first SUSE Linux release that was made available in the form of a downloadable single-CD ISO image - an equivalent of SUSE's "Personal" edition. Novell became even more generous with the next two releases as both versions 9.2 and 9.3 appeared on its servers as five CD images and one DVD image, which effectively represented SUSE's Professional edition without the commercial applications and support. Finally, in August 2005, Novell opened SUSE Linux to public participation in its beta testing program and the ISO images of SUSE Linux 10.0 were released for free download as soon as the boxed products were ready to ship.

For many Linux hobbyists and enthusiasts, participating in a distribution's beta program, reporting bugs, and exchanging information with the developers on a mailing list is one of the key reasons for choosing a distribution. Excited by the prospect of joining the testing process, I rushed to download the first beta of SUSE 10.0 as soon as it was announced, updating it after each new beta and release candidate. The newly created openSUSE mailing lists quickly gained a large number of subscribers as other SUSE enthusiasts discovered the joy of helping a project to fix the bugs and produce the best possible release. Overnight, SUSE Linux became an open project where the developers and testers were having "a lot of fun" building a great distribution.

Finally, the long awaited October 6th arrived and SUSE Linux 10.0 final was released to public mirrors. The resulting rush utterly surprised the SUSE release team which, until then, had little experience with making large files available for public download. The main SUSE server, which also hosted BitTorrent files, was virtually inaccessible for several days, preventing legitimate mirrors from synchronizing with the main server in order to take some of the load away.

There was also some confusion over all the different editions of SUSE Linux 10.0. Although both the "OSS" and "GM" (GoldMaster) editions are free to download, the "OSS" edition contains Free Software only, while the "GM" edition includes some freely distributable but proprietary applications, such as Acrobat Reader or RealPlayer. Furthermore, the retail edition ships with additional commercial applications, as well as a printed manual and installation support. A 1 GB "LiveDVD" edition, also available for free download, is meant for those who wish to evaluate the product or test hardware compatibility. The "OSS" edition (distributed as five CD images) supports x86, x86_64 and PowerPC architectures, while the "GM" edition (distributed as five CD images or one DVD image) only supports the x86 and x86_64 processors.

SUSE Linux 10.0 is not a revolutionary release. Instead, it seems like a transitional product from a closed-door SUSE to an open project similar to Fedora Core. As such, the initial release was probably a testing ground for all the new bug reporting and information exchange infrastructure. That said, SUSE 10.0 does ship the latest versions of most applications; in fact, the GNOME 2.12 packages were included in SUSE just one day before the final release candidate went public - this might give us an indication of how cutting edge SUSE 10.0 really is. Several new applications, such as the amaroK media player, Krita vector drawing program, Mozilla Sunbird calendar application, and Novell iFolder file synchronization tool were also added. The new SUSE now ships with AppArmor Lite (included as a YaST module) - an answer to Red Hat's SELinux functionality and a piece of technology Novell acquired earlier this year from Immunix.

Early reviews of SUSE 10.0 indicate general satisfaction with the product. The installer is slightly simplified to hide some of the "expert" options while the latest version of the KDE desktop looks better than ever. Some issues remain, however. Multimedia playback of many popular audio and video formats is not included, so further downloads and tweaking are required to set these up. Some users have also complained about the lack of integration of PDF and other plugins into Firefox. The distribution also contains newer versions of the Beagle desktop search engine and Xen virtualization technology, but because they are not considered mature enough, they are not part of the default install. Wireless networking also remains a problem area for many users. And the ever-present complaint about the sluggishness of YaST is still valid - although well-designed and very useful, especially for Linux newcomers, the time it takes to complete certain tasks can test your patience, even on a reasonably powerful computer.

With SUSE 10.0 behind us, openSUSE's true direction should manifest itself more clearly in the next release - version 10.1, scheduled for early March 2006. It will go through the full cycle of four alpha (the second of which is expected this week, complete with the latest beta of KDE 3.5) and four beta releases, before one last release candidate. This is where the openSUSE project is likely to start fulfilling its promise to build a product that can be deployed and enjoyed by any computer user, not just the venerable "Linux enthusiast". From this perspective, SUSE 10.0 represents little more than an open continuum of SUSE's 9.x releases. The upcoming SUSE 10.1, however, might be an altogether different product.

Comments (2 posted)

New Releases

Mandriva Linux 2006 released

Mandriva has announced the release of Mandriva Linux 2006. "Mandriva 2006 is the only Linux distribution to provide the official support for Intel Centrino mobile technology and to offer a complete integration of Skype, the popular free voice calling over Internet software. Other key features include desktop search, interactive firewall and auto-install server functionality."

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Ubuntu 5.10 released

The Ubuntu 5.10 "Breezy Badger" release is out. The announcement has download information and a list of new features; these include a thin client mode, integration with, and all the latest new software. Kubuntu 5.10, the KDE-based version of the distribution, is also available as is the classroom version, Edubuntu 5.10.

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Ubuntu 5.10 Server released

Yet another variant of Ubuntu 5.10 has been released. The new server edition features a different kernel, a different package mix, no desktop environment, and "safe and text-oriented boot mode for better clarity and infinite justice on boot." Click below for the full announcement.

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Announcing The Ubuntu Ports Archive

The Ubuntu Porting Team has announced the release of Breezy Badger for three new architectures, IA64, HPPA (1.1 and later) and SPARC (UltraSPARC only). "The Porting Team was born about a year ago, and it's made up only by volunteers, motivated by love for Ubuntu and uncommon hardware. Hence the criteria for ports architectures is more about what those individuals decide than any rational decision making process. None of these new architectures are officially supported by the Ubuntu team. If we can get a large enough user base, we may be able to change that."

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New Source Mage Stable ISO is official!

Source Mage has announced the release of the 0.9.5 stable ISO image.
There's not much to say that hasn't already been said. I've personally
installed 3 or 4 systems that are getting good use on this ISO. But if
you've missed out on the other emails, 0.9.5 features:
* A new completely revamped installer
* significatnly newer versions of spells
* Was generated using a repeatable system (this is a big feat)
* Is extremely cool!

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OpenPKG 2.5 released

OpenPKG 2.5 is out; the biggest change this time around appears to be the transition to gcc 4.0. Click below for the full release announcement.

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Distribution News

Version tracking in the Debian BTS

If you are closing bugs in the Debian BTS, there are three simple rules that you can follow to make sure that the BTS always has correct information about what version of your package fixes a bug (especially a security hole). Click below for details.

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Distribution Newsletters

Debian Weekly News

The Debian Weekly News for October 18, 2005 is out. In this edition, a review of Elive 0.3, the m68k port and etch, Debian installer beta preparation, the GNOME 1 transition, installing Debian Sarge, list message ID lookup, Debian OpenSolaris, and more.

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Fedora Weekly News Issue 18

The Fedora Weekly News has articles on FUDCon3 Presentations, How to check Hotmail with KMail, How to setup disk software mirroring, Linux (Fedora) stars in MS movie?, Fedora CD Labels, How much space?, and other topics.

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Gentoo Weekly Newsletter

The Gentoo Weekly Newsletter for the week of October 17, 2005 covers the release of a new USE flag editor, the introduction of subforums, and several other topics.

Comments (none posted)

DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 122

DistroWatch Weekly for October 17, 2005 is out. "The timely release of Ubuntu Linux 5.10 and its sister distributions last Thursday was the event of the week - this issue naturally starts with a closer look at "Breezy Badger". We'll also investigate wireless network configuration on SUSE Linux 10.0, feature the unusual, Slackware-inspired Kate OS distribution, and ask why the otherwise Linux-friendly Google has expended so little effort to make Google Earth available on our preferred operating system."

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Package updates

Fedora updates

Fedora Core 4 updates: lftp (upgrade to upstream version 3.2.1), wget (update to 1.10.2), selinux-policy-targeted (fixes for bluetooth and hal), selinux-policy-strict (fixes for bluetooth and hal), dhcp (bug fixes).

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Mandriva MDKA-2005:043

Mandriva has updated shorewall packages for Multi Network Firewall 2.0.

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Newsletters and articles of interest

Linspire Pitches to Vertical Education Market (eWeek)

eWeek looks into Linspire's licensing program for schools. ""We put our students in a room with Linspire, just to see how they would adapt after using Microsoft Windows," said Scott Back, Technology Coordinator for Shelby Eastern Schools, outside Indianapolis, Ind. "Guess what? They figured it out right away without any training or special help.""

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Ubuntu Linux Arrives (Red Herring)

Red Herring covers the release of Ubuntu's Breezy Badger. "The new release, Ubuntu 5.10, also features Edubuntu, a specialized version of Ubuntu developed for and in collaboration with educators. Edubuntu is designed for deployment in classrooms. Edubuntu is currently being used at Yorktown High School in Arlington, Virginia, where it has been championed by Jeff Elkner, a computer science teacher at the school. Mr. Elkner is one of the developers of Edubuntu."

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Distribution reviews

The Ubuntu Juggernaut: Resistence Is Futile.... (DistroWatch)

Robert Storey has written a review of Ubuntu, on DistroWatch. "I must confess that I was caught off guard by the overnight success of Ubuntu, and thus neglected to review it (or even download it) when it first arrived on the servers. However, it's just as well that I didn't bother, because for the past year, not a week has gone by without somebody writing an Ubuntu review and posting it to one (or all) of the popular geek web sites. Indeed, it's become something of a joke that the only things you can't avoid in life are death, taxes and Ubuntu reviews."

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Mandriva 2006 Final Look (TuxMachines) reviews Mandriva Linux 2006. "All in all, as I've followed the development of Mandriva 2006, one thing has become clear. Mandriva is ever improving and it is reflected in this new more polished stable operating system. Featured here is only a taste. Throughout the entire development cycle I experienced very few applications crashes and never a major X server crash or system lock up. The compromises between bleeding-edge and stable applications has paid off tremendously for Mandriva."

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