The Lizard King

SUSE Linux 10.0 is the latest edition of a venerable Linux distribution that Novell took under its wing nearly two years ago. SUSE has always been known for including everything but the kitchen sink - like previous versions, SUSE 10.0 comes on five CDs, compared to Ubuntu Linux's one - and for its extremely comprehensive YAST setup and configuration tool set. (YAST stands for "Yet Another Setup Tool," because geeks just can't get enough silly acronyms.) In SUSE 10.0, not only has Novell included all the latest free software goodies, but it's changed its release strategy: SUSE Installation CDs are available as a free download for the first time. The news is good all around.

I've been playing around with the boxed edition of SUSE Linux 10.0, but Novell representatives assure me that the evaluation edition available for download through www.opensuse.org is the same product, complete with pro­prietary extensions (such as Java, Flash, and RealPlayer) that other distributions tend to leave off their freely downloadable editions.

Despite its name, the Evaluation edition is unrestricted - it won't time out on you or anything like that. Here's what you don't get if you decide not to shell out $US60 for the boxed set: a 275-page startup guide that's very nicely done; five CDs and one DVD emblazoned with the SUSE mascot, a lizard named Geeko; a beautiful green cardboard box, also sporting the image of Geeko; and installation support via e-mail, Web, or telephone. These bells and whistles are probably most useful to Linux newcomers, while the gearheads that SUSE seems to be targeting can most likely do without them.

The YAST-driven installation process is a natural evolution of previous SUSE installers - still detailed and rather geared toward folks who know a thing or two about their hardware. If you're going to leave Windows on your drive and set up a dual-booting system, you probably also need to know a thing or two about partitioning. Although online help is available at every stage during the installation, it's relatively technical stuff. Newbies are unlikely to feel comfortable.

Choose a desktop

Early in the installation, you'll be asked to choose between the Gnome and KDE desktop environments (see Figure 1 and Figure 2). At this point in the process, there's no option to select both; but at a later stage, you can let the installer know if you want both desktops installed. In my testing, pursuing that route met with very mixed results: there was a significant amount of bleed-through from one desktop to another. The most annoying example was that when I logged into KDE, non-functional, Gnome-specific icons appeared on the desktop, and similar KDE-centric icons were missing.

In fact, even if you only install the Gnome desktop, you still end up with a bit of a desktop melange: a few KDE apps are scattered throughout the Applications menu; and where Gnome users expect to see a Help entry in the Desktop menu, there's a "SUSE Help Center" command that calls up the KDE Help Centre, which has been stocked with both Gnome and KDE documentation. This is a little bizarre, and it suggests to me that the distribution remains pretty KDE-centric, despite parent company Novell's emphasis on the Gnome desktop.

The installation process might astonish you when it completes without a single reboot. (Why can't Microsoft learn that trick?) After you log into the desktop environment of your choice, you'll find a clean interface containing just a few icons - none of them for ads or special offers - and, of course, desktop wallpaper depicting Geeko. If you don't want to stare at the Lizard King all day (apologies to Jim Morrison fans), you'll be happy to find a set of beautiful nature photographs built-in as wallpaper alternatives. That's not exactly a crucial feature, but a very nice touch.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Matthew Newton

PC World
Show Comments

Essentials

Mobile

Exec

Budget

TerraCycle Zero Waste Box Pens and Markers Small

Learn more >

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?