Wednesday, January 21, 2009

SuSE 11.1 - too little, too soon

I'm an engineer, so I like to read the instructions and do my homework before I come to a conclusion. So I have given SuSE 11.1 due diligence. I have spent at least a day with each of the problem areas, some with success, others without. As a result I have come to the following conclusion:
  • SuSE 11.1 is very pretty. The Plasma desktop is beautiful.
  • SuSE 11.1 is a very pretty bimbo. There are a lot of things that just don't work.
As my father said to my sister, "pretty is as pretty does." The SuSE people have obviously spent a lot of time on facepaint, but under that pretty face is a very disfunctional brain. Let me count the ways:
  • Bluetooth does not work on KDE. http://en.opensuse.org/Bluetooth gives the summary. http://forums.opensuse.org/hardware/402244-bluetooth-solution-opensuse-11-1-a.html gives the workaround as installing the gnome bluetooth package, but it only works if you have Gnome as the desktop. On KDE bluetooth does not even appear in YaST, although hcitool does show it exists and it can find remote and local devices. You just cannot assign a password to the local device, so you cannot connect. As a result there is a host of other things that do not work, including:
    • obexfs
    • syncml
    • Bluetooth modem
  • GIMP 2.6.2 scanner support does not work. xscanimage cannot find the scanner even though skanlite and scanimage find the device. We can live with this since skanlite can save a scan to a file that we can then open in GIMP.
  • Audio does not work. We spent hours farkling this.There is a troubleshooting guide for SuSE 11.1 system at http://en.opensuse.org/SDB:Intel-HDA_sound_problems but I have been through this in detail without success.
  • File previews in konqueror do not work. The new Plasma interface lets you select or deselect a file by clicking on the icon, but despite settings in Personal Settings you do not get the popup preview with size, date, ownership data.
  • The system will not shut down except by brute force power-off. See http://forum.soft32.com/linux/SuSE-11-Novell-bring-windows-98-code-Linux-ftopict474479.html
  • khotkeys does not work. As a result I have lost all my quick inputs of the complex passwords we have to use.
  • Beagle is a dog. Duhhh. But it really is. It spends hours thrashing about, but when you ask it something it plays dumb. So why am I wasting all that disk space? So I nuked it.
  • The SuSE firewall is a dog. No visible means of configuration unless you have memorized iptables. Thanks be to God for guarddog:
  • http://www.simonzone.com/software/guarddog/
  • There is no support for mplayer, even though this is the dominant open source media player. I had to revert to learning svn (a step beyond CVS and full of flamers) to get it to work, and the kplayer GUI still doesn't work.
  • The default SeaMonkey email system is definitely a work in progress. I went with it for a week and then trashed it to return to Thunderbird.
SO: pretty well disappointed.
  • Note that:
    • These conclusions are deliberate. I spent easily a full eight hour day on each of these problems
    • I am a real SuSE fan. I prefer the KDE interface as being bright and cheerful and crisp. Everyone else wants fat dull Gnome. I hate it.
    • I'm a certified engineer and geek, so quite adept, and moreso than most, at farkling these problems.
    • And, most importantly, all these things worked just fine on SuSE 10.2. So the operative phrase is: If it ain't broke don't fix it!! Good grief...
My opinion is that the community at large, and Novell/OpenSuSE in particular, would be better off adhering less rigidly to a six-month release cycle and more rigidly to making sure that very much everything works before making a release. Normal people do not reformat their disks and install a new operating system every six months. 'Way too much work. This evolution has easily cost me two months, which thankfully I had available. I'm not going to do that every six months. And releasing buggy software just gives the community a bad name. So take at least a little more time and ensure that it WORKS before releasing it. Especially do not release stuff that the community has already identified as being dysfunctional, like bluetooth on KDE4.

So, despite being a SuSE fan from 10.2 onward, I shall catch my breath, and then try to figure out how to get Fedora or something else to give me KDE. And then, maybe, very maybe, come back to try SuSE 11.2 or 11.3 or ... But again, shall do due diligence first.

4 comments:

jalmillategui said...

Hi, About your sound issue, try installing the Alsa-driver-kmp and Alsa-driver-unstable-kmp from the OBS repo (http://download.opensuse.org/repositories/multimedia:/audio:/KMP/openSUSE_11.1/) to see if it fixes it.

best,

Javier

Lake-end said...

Firewall is configured from Yast-Security->Firewall. Shouldn´t be that hard to figure out. Also for the record, I´ve had no problems with my os11.1 install.

eric5881 said...

When 11.1 was first released, there was a rush of positive reviews in the first day. I appreciate your review from a more thorough point of view. I've used Suse since 2004. I installed 11.1 and had a number of problems:
- the package manager froze on me
- various others, but in the end the one that took me over the edge was when I could not get it to download my pictures because it would not lock the file or some error message like that.
I took it off my desktop system and went to Debian Lenny. My experience has been that some people have success with a distro that doesn't work as well with my applications or hardware, and it won't work for me. On my old compaq laptop, I tried to install Suse 11.1, but it just froze in the middle of the process. Wolvix and Vector never installed due to a kernel panic. Debian installed like a charm.

Dark_Cynic said...

hey, i xperienced the same problem
i luv KDE an suse' interface
i mm suse loyalist since 10.3
i was 2 lazy 2 upgrade
to 11.1
the part manager is a pain which wasnt so in 10.3 and 11.0
also the prop ati drivers dont work
it crashes out