Novell OpenSUSE 10.3 Desktop Linux
- Tons of features and software, price
- OpenSUSE's hardware support is a little iffy, high learning curve
Free version of SUSE Linux packs in the features yet feels unfinished. Free for download software.opensuse.org/.
OpenSUSE 10.3 is the fourth stable release from the OpenSUSE project, the online community founded by Novell to further develop the SUSE Linux operating system. It ships stuffed to the gills with the usual assortment of open-source applications, including the OpenOffice.org office suite, the GIMP image-manipulation software, and many multimedia bells and whistles. In fact, OpenSUSE has more software and features crammed into it than you know what to do with, which proves a mixed blessing.
The OpenSUSE distribution DVD disc boots to the familiar SUSE Linux installer. A Live CD approach, like that found in Ubuntu 7.10, would have been more versatile; but even though OpenSUSE's method seems old-fashioned, it's at least effective. The SUSE installer is top-notch, and OpenSUSE 10.3 dresses it in attractive, professional-looking new graphics. It's not as effortless as it could be -- the installation process gives you enough options to get you into trouble -- but novices should have no problems if they play along with the default selections.
Desktop interface debate
OpenSUSE offers a choice between two different desktop environments, KDE or Gnome. Superficially, they both provide GUI features similar to Windows or Mac OS X, but they differ in the details -- enough so that desktop preference has become a hot debate within the desktop Linux community. Gnome arguably has become the favourite with recent SUSE releases, now that many of the prominent Gnome developers work full-time for Novell, but OpenSUSE's Gnome desktop differs from the stock version. The menu bar on the top of the screen has been removed, consolidated into a single taskbar along the bottom. The chief feature of the taskbar is a new menu, codenamed Slab, that gives one-stop access to the most important applications, control panels, and recently used documents. The overall effect is very Windows-like, but unfortunately it doesn't do much to improve productivity.
The action of reaching for the lower-left corner of the screen feels familiar, but finding applications among the Slab menus can be tedious. It's too sluggish, and the organisation of the menu icons does not seem particularly intuitive -- if you're looking for a spreadsheet, for example, you must first scroll through almost a full page of games.
The same must be said of YAST (Yet Another Setup Tool), SUSE's other major contribution to the Linux desktop interface. YAST tries to gather all of the important control panels and system-configuration tools into a single, combined application. It's a noble goal, but users have often complained of YAST's poor performance in the past, and OpenSUSE 10.3 doesn't seem to have made any significant improvement in this respect.
Hardware hassles, software softness
Compounding the problem, OpenSUSE's hardware support seems iffy, particularly on notebooks. It failed to set the correct resolution on an early-generation Centrino notebook's widescreen display, and nothing we tried could fix it. As we slogged our way through YAST's configuration screens, the unused portions of the screen slowly filled with strange colours. No other recent Linux distribution we've tried has exhibited this problem on the same hardware. Similarly, the installer detected the Wi-Fi chip set properly, but couldn't seem to connect to the wireless network to download the latest updates during the install process. OpenSUSE fared better on a desktop system, but its inconsistency made us leery.
In fact, inconsistency seems to be the watchword for this release. OpenSUSE 10.3 gets the job done, and clearly some thought has been put into its usability, but an overambitious software selection and haphazard execution undermine the distribution's better qualities. For example, one of the advertised new features of OpenSUSE 10.3 is Compiz Fusion, the graphics engine that enables flashy desktop effects competitive with those in Mac OS X or Windows Vista. While the Ubuntu team went to pains to integrate Compiz Fusion and enable it by default, however, on OpenSUSE it's merely an option, and then only if you know where to look for it. Similarly, a security-conscious user will be confronted by four separate icons on the Applications menu that look like keyrings, in addition to the 'Lockdown Manager'. You can guess that one of them manages your passwords, but which? OpenSUSE wins points for its high-quality documentation, but its initial learning curve is more difficult than it needs to be for neophytes.
Ultimately, OpenSUSE's bid to be all things to all users betrays its origins as the developmental branch of SUSE Linux, and as a result, this distribution will be most attractive to Linux hobbyists. It's free, so nothing is stopping you from giving it a whirl. But business power users will benefit more from a polished, commercial desktop Linux distribution such as Xandros, while new users will likely find Ubuntu's limited menu more palatable than OpenSUSE's buffet. Free for download here: software.opensuse.org/.
Join the newsletter!
Nespresso Creatista Coffee Machine
SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™
WD MY PASSPORT™ Gaming Storage
Panasonic OLED 4K Ultra HD TV - TH-55EZ950U
WD MY PASSPORT™ X Gaming Storage
Apple iPhone X
Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44
Dyson Supersonic™ Hair Dryer Fuchsia/Iron
Bang and Olufsen BeoVision 14
Panasonic OLED 4K Ultra HD TV - TH-77EZ1000U
Toys for Boys
Leica M10 Digital Rangefinder Camera
UBTech First Order Stormtrooper Robot
Bose SoundLink Micro
LaCie Rugged USB-C Portable Hard Drive
Ubiquiti Network’s Front Row Camera
Lego Mindstorms EV3
Onyx Smart Walkie Talkie
Google Daydream View VR Headset
Propel Star Wars T-65 X-Wing Drone
iRobot Roomba 980 Vaccum Cleaning Robot
Panasonic Hi-Fi - SC-UA7GS-K
Toffee Bags Commuter Satchel
Amazon Echo Bluetooth Speaker
Belkin Pocket Power 10,000mAh
WD MY CLOUD™ HOME Personal Cloud Storage
Xbox One X
Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K
Dearear Endear In-ear Wireless Earphones
PETKIG Go Smart Dog Leash
Nest Protect Smart Smoke Alarm
Lexon Flip Alarm Clock
Panasonic Portable Splashproof Fun - RF-D20U
Logitech Doodle Collection Wireless Mouse
Raspberry Pi Starter Kit
Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse
Kogan Bluetooth Soundbar
3SIXT 3-in-1 Smartphone Lens Kit
Urbanworx Full HD Action Camera
Ikea NORDMÄRKE Wireless Charging Pad
Fallout Geeki Tikis
Tile Pro Bluetooth Tracker
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Huawei Mate 10 Pro Review: A solid winter flagship that cribs from the best
- 2 Google Pixel 2 review: not quite 'pixel perfect' but damn close
- 3 Google Home Mini review: a welcome addition to the smart speaker family.
- 4 Huawei Nova 2i review: Flagship features get smuggled into the mid-tier
- 5 Moto X4 review: This is what a world without MotoMods looks like
Latest News Articles
- Officeworks hops on voice interface bandwagon with Google Assistant integration
- Amazon confirms early 2018 Australian launch for Alexa and Echo
- JBL join smart speaker arena with the portable, waterproof and (Google-powered) JBL Link range
- University of Sydney Signs World-First Agreement with Dropbox
- Microsoft delves deeper into AI with new kit bag of tools
PCW Evaluation Team
I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.
It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.
Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.
The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.
The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.
The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic
- LG V30+ review: The videographer's smartphone arrives
- Fitbit Ionic review: Impressive but not quite iconic
- Xbox One X review: Brave new world
- What's the difference between an Intel Core i3, i5 and i7?
- Laser vs. inkjet printers: which is better?
Product Launch Showcase
- TPSystems Engineer - Dell EMCWA
- FTFront End DeveloperOther
- CCDynamics 365 ? Solution ArchitectQLD
- FTSenior SAS DeveloperOther
- CCTechnical Field Engineer/SupportVIC
- FTTest ManagerACT
- FTProgram CoordinatorACT
- FTDevOps Engineer - Financial ServicesOther
- FTBlockchain DeveloperOther
- FTNetwork ArchitectVIC
- FTProgram CoordinatorACT
- FTData Analysts/ EngineersNSW
- TPProject CoordinatorNSW
- FTEngineer - Unix/LinuxOther
- FTICT Systems Support OfficerQLD
- FTFinancial AdministratorOther
- FTJava Software Engineers wanted (Melbourne CBD location)VIC
- CCGeospatial Project ManagerNSW
- FTTechnical Specialist - SCOMOther
- CCExstream DeveloperNSW
- FTNet Technical Lead - Funds Management Products -Leading FintechOther
- CCProject Manager - InfrastructureWA
- CCBusiness AnalystNSW
- FTBig Data ArchitectOther
- FTSenior BI ManagerNSW