SuSe 6.4 review

This edition includes a new and improved graphical installation tool, YaST2 (Yet another Setup Tool), which closely resembles that of Caldera's OpenLinux. The automatic hardware detection works well, as does the Network configuration which has full DHCP support. Choice of automatic or manual partitioning is available, with the option to use existing partitions if performing an upgrade.

Software selection comes with four options: 1. the Minimal option will give you only a text-based environment; 2. Default will result in the basic software being installed on your computer, including a graphical interface; 3. Almost Everything will install more than 6GB of software to your hard disk; and 4. the Detailed Selection will allow you to choose the packages to install.

The installer configures the Linux loader, allowing SuSE 6.4 to easily co-exist with Windows.

The major drawback with YaST2 is that it requires at least 64MB of RAM to run. Below that and you're stuck with YaST1, which is more cumbersome and less clear.

The six CDs that make up the CD Edition (the release is also available on DVD) contain the operating system as well as over 1500 programs. Some of the more popular applications included in the distribution are: VMware (30 day trial version), WordPerfect 8 (download edition), StarOffice 5.1a and Netscape. Other newly included applications are Broadcast 2000 - a video editing system, and Moonlight 3D - a 3D drawing program. SuSE Linux has been rpm compliant since release 5.0, so working with rpm files is not a problem.

The default window manager for the release is KDE, which has been redesigned by SuSE for the 6.4 version. This KDE environment is very user friendly and has easy window management. Drag-and-drop is also supported.

For more advanced users, the extended 2.2.14 kernel provides sup-port for up to 3.5GB of RAM. The ReiserFS journaling file system adds redundancy, for powerful and stable file serving. This is done by storing transaction logs of all disk writes and dynamically organising the file system, making it more efficient than existing Linux options. Improved firewall scripts provide increased security, as does a new kernel module, secumod.

The new X windows server XFree86 4.0 is also included, but since it has not yet been sufficiently tested, it is not being installed as default. There is better support for graphics cards and USB devices in this release.

Included with the release is a new, quick-install manual for beginners. It has step-by-step instructions, supported by screen shots, to guide new users through the YaST2 installation process.

The SuSE Linux handbook is included and has new chapters on notebook computing, desktop configuration and masquerading (a popular means of allowing several networked computers to access the Internet through a single machine).

Ensuring that customers are not left in the cold, the package comes with 60-day installation support by telephone, fax and e-mail. This is another great and promising release from Europe's largest Linux distributor. For more information visit, www.suse.de/en/

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Rodney Gedda

PC World
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