2012-09-12

Review: openSUSE 12.2 KDE

It has been over 10 months since I reviewed openSUSE 12.1. Since then, version 12.2 has been released, so I am reviewing it now.

Main Screen + openSUSE Welcome Screen
In my review of openSUSE 12.1, I was unhappy with the fact that Skype and Google Talk would not work, especially given that they both worked in openSUSE 11.4. I want to see if those and other regressions have been fixed with version 12.2. Also, I see that the GNOME developers want to make their desktop regress further, so with few exceptions (like Pinguy OS), I will stay away from GNOME 3/Shell as much as possible; that is why I am only reviewing the KDE edition of openSUSE 12.2 today.

I did this review using a live USB system made with MultiSystem. I did not test the installation. Follow the jump to see what it's like.

After the boot menu came...a boot splash! Finally, openSUSE includes a real boot splash rather than just scrolling text; it had a really cool animation of fuzzy dots flying around the openSUSE logo. That quickly gave way to the KDE splash screen (which is the default except for the matching background), which gave way to the desktop. The desktop is almost identical to what has been present in previous versions, so I won't dwell on that too much. I will say that the Kickoff menu is now better and worse than before, in that although applications like GwenView that previously had generic menu entry icons now have their own proper icons, many applications have been nested into subcategories that exist essentially only for those applications, and this makes the menu way too cluttered and confusing. In addition, this appears to form the core structure of application menus in KDE in openSUSE, because switching to the KDE Lancelot menu didn't help. Also, I found fonts in titlebars to be as bad as before, and some fonts inside applications were worse than before, though they were generally still fairly readable. Overall, though, the desktop still works just fine.

Mozilla Firefox + LibreOffice Writer
Mozilla Firefox is the default browser, though Konqueror is still present for whatever reason. I had to use the YaST2 Package Manager to get Adobe Flash, because trying to use the tool to install plugins from within Mozilla Firefox did not work this time. After that, though, I was able to watch YouTube and Hulu fine; my laptop's volume keyboard shortcuts worked well too.

LibreOffice is included as the default productivity suite and has a customized splash screen of its own as well. Unfortunately each component of LibreOffice is hidden in a separate subcategory in the Kickoff menu for no good reason. Other installed applications include other KDE utilities and games.

The YaST2 Package Manager hasn't changed much from last time, though now its various components are buried deep in different subcategories in the Kickoff menu, which makes it more annoying just to access. It still requires the user to manually and individually deselect each package automatically selected for installation. That said, it is nice in that it prevents the deselection of packages that are dependencies of other packages that the user has specifically selected for installation; I guess you win some and lose some. I was able to use it to install Redshift and the dependencies of Mupen64Plus, after which I was able to install the binary file for Mupen64Plus 1.5. Redshift worked fine, though GTK-Redshift complained about the lack of a "pygtk" package; I think this is an issue with openSUSE package naming. Mupen64Plus and its GUI worked fine, though I wasn't ever able to find it in the Kickoff menu for some reason.

I downloaded the RPM files for Skype and Google Talk from their respective websites. Both of the files when launched with the Apper package installer selected all the other automatically-selected files for installation with no way to deselect those; the only way I could prevent those from being installed was by canceling the installation, and in both cases I was able to do so because Apper got tripped up by the license agreements for both programs.
I then issued the command "sudo zypper in [PACKAGENAME].rpm" in the appropriate directory to install each of the two packages through the CLI, and this thankfully didn't install all those other useless packages. Both worked fine, and this time the mic worked properly, which is great.

YaST2 + Desktop Cube
openSUSE used about 1 GB of RAM at idle, which sounds huge at first; however, there appears to be some process called "clicfs" which is tied to the live CD environment that uses a lot of RAM, so subtracting that yielded about 350 MB of RAM usage at idle. That is quite good for KDE and really for any DE these days. In addition, openSUSE was stable the whole time.

That is where my time with openSUSE 12.2 ended. Given that everything that I usually use worked here and nothing failed in particular, I could see myself installing and using this. That is about the highest recommendation that I can give; plus, I think it is great for newbies in its large selection of software combined with its professional approach to the desktop. In addition, I think this may be the subject of my next long-term review (which will span an equivalent number of UROP hours, but because the semester has started and I am no longer doing my UROP full-time, there will be more days logged in the review).
You can get it here.

16 comments:

  1. Absolutely agree that the menu in OpenSuSE KDE version is too cluttered. This is valid for each KDE-based version of this OS, unfortunately.

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  2. This is really a review of the live CD rather than the distro as such because the live cd is not identical to the full install. If you didn't have the opportunity to actually install the distro, you could have at least installed it into Virtualbox to get a better idea of the final product. Even then, the installer on the live CD isn't as full featured as the DVD (doesn't allow choosing which packages to install) and about 75% of OpenSUSE users install from the DVD rather than the CD according to the last time statistics were published on this.

    Regarding KDE submenus - this is an artifact of the live CD, because what you described is not present in a VirtualBox install. If you right-click over the KDE launcher and select "Application Launcher Settings", you can click on "Reduce Menu Depth" to prevent items being placed into submenus with only one entry. This is the default on install from the DVD; it must have been disabled on the live CD for some reason (bug?).

    Mr. Darkduck is another individual who doesn't review actual installs of the OS, although his comment that this is a problem for each version of OpenSUSE shows he doesn't know what he's talking about and why his OpenSUSE reviews are ridiculed when he spams the OpenSUSE forums with them. He's also claimed that Windows' installer allows for more customizability than Linux installers, for instance, and then not changed his article when many examples were provided him of flexible linux installers. He also spams every Linux blog in existence with a link to his own blog. :-(

    Other than that, a great overview of OpenSUSE 12.2. So far it seems a lot more stable than 12.1 (which I don't believe should have even been released when it was) and it also offers a lot of improvements users can see and appreciate, unlike the last release.

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  3. @DarkDuck: I'm not sure what you mean by "each KDE-based version", but I agree with the sentiment.

    @alcalde: As far as reviewing the live medium goes, I don't dispute that this is in fact what I do. I haven't been doing VirtualBox installations because I've found that aside from giving an overview of the installation program, they give much less information about an actual installation experience than even a live medium review without an installation due to the various quirks of VirtualBox. Furthermore, MultiSystem, which is the program that I use for many of these live USB system reviews (including this one), has an odd conflict with VirtualBox, so that's kind of out of the question anyway. Regarding the KDE menu issue, I agree that the presence of this in the live session is a bug, and I don't see any good reason why it should remain there. Regarding the commenter above, I agree there are occasional slip-ups in those reviews, but beyond that I don't know if it's fair to dispute the existence of someone's experience with a distribution. And I don't particularly begrudge the "spamming" as long as it isn't overdone or done in a rude/impolite manner. Finally, I appreciate the support and agree with you about version 12.1.

    Thanks for the comments!

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    1. I do not understand your complaint about not being able to use Virtualbox.

      You must be downloading the iso image for the Multisystem to put on a pendrive. Virtualbox can boot off the same iso image. The demanding tone of your review mandates your readers to demand the same in practice.

      I have used skype on Opensuse 12.1 for at least six months without complaint.There is an opensuse package of latest skype which works flawlessly.

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    2. PV, "each KDE version" means other remixes of OpenSuSE, like Li-f-e, for example.


      And here is my review of OpenSuSE 12.2 GNOME, if you're interested.

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    3. @DarkDuck: Thanks for the clarification!

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    4. @DarkDuck: It's interesting that we seem to come to opposite conclusions about many distributions. Thanks for the tip!

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  4. You seem to review with a sense of entitlement. No os is perfect right after install. This is a live cd so it's not meant for long term use. Maybe you could come across less harsh and demanding, and more thankful.

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  5. @Anonymous [I assume you're the same commmenter in both cases because of the style/tone]: I apologize that I wasn't clear about MultiSystem. For some reason, installing MultiSystem and VirtualBox causes VirtualBox to become unable to run any VM at all. It's great that Skype has worked well for you, but it might be in your better interest to provide possible solutions for why it didn't work for me in openSUSE 12.1 rather than judge from an armchair; furthermore that isn't even an issue now because if you actually read my post, you would see that it works in version 12.2 anyway. Finally, I don't deny feeling a bit of entitlement when doing these reviews, but that is because I don't feel bound to any particular distribution. If a distribution like Ubuntu, Linux Mint, or Fedora can reproduce the experience of installing and customizing programs in the live session as well as in an installed session, I have no reason not to expect something similar from a distribution like openSUSE. If that fails, I'll write about it and move on. And while I am always thankful that these developers produce these distributions, if at the end of the day I can't use the distribution in the way I want, it isn't a distribution I would use or recommend.

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  6. OpenSuse website tells us to download the 4.7GB, if we want all the stuff they have on the repos for a "normal user", or if we want we could download 20Gb of everything and have our own repo at home. What it says is that you just can't upgrade until the next release. Period!

    it is just fixed from the day it was released. Otherwise, you could download an older version of enterprise iso for free, but with an activation code, and have a chance to upgrade for 60 days, and after that pay up. OpenSuse 12.2 is fixed until the next release, be it 12.3 or 13.

    What the use of such a distro? It is simply dead until the next time the developers think of giving the users another release/version or not give anything at all.

    One could keep on updating and upgrading Ubuntu and most of the Ubuntu derivatives, if the developer of the derivative had not unwittingly blocked that process--mostly because of lack of knowledge. Arch and Gentoo users can kill their distro at anytime by updating/upgrading.

    Just check the Suse website to see the difference. users of the Suse Studio can make anything they want, but within the apps allowed to be used, meaning "until the next release."

    It is much better using one's time "playing the remastering" of your own custom distro with Debian and Ubuntu and their derivatives, than trying to make your own distro with Suse Studio, as you'd never learn anything there, except click, un-click boxes.

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    1. @Ch: To be honest, I'm not sure what you are trying to get at. Are you complaining that openSUSE is a fixed-release distribution and not a rolling-release distribution? That's true of Ubuntu and Debian Stable as well. Are you saying that SUSE Studio doesn't really teach users how to properly remaster a distribution? I haven't tried it myself, but it looks to be way easier and more consistent than other distribution remastering tools I have seen, and at the same time, I am sure that there are other more advanced remastering tools available for openSUSE.

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    2. For some time now openSUSE has had Tumbleweed Rolling Release Update Option available - for those who want it ;)

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  7. @Ch- What do you mean by "can't upgrade"? If I need something, I can install. If I need a newer version of an application, I remove it and install the newer version.

    I thought the beauty of this OS was that every time you shut down your system does not tell you "do not power off your computer, we have new updates"... well you get the idea.

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    1. openSUSE TumbleWeed ... I think maybe that's what you want?

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  8. @Anonymous 1, 3: I appreciate the clarification.

    @Anonymous 2: Yeah, I wasn't sure about that either.

    Thanks for the comments!

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