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LinuxDig.Com : Linux News : Novell Suse 9.2 Brief Review
Author: HumanX | Tuesday October 26, 2004

The newest version of Novell Suse Linux is now available for download from Suse. Version 9.2 brings basic improvements to the distribution which add up to a much needed upgrade.


Wireless
Linux wireless networking; that often out of reach necessity for Linux installations, Suse 9.2 makes this a great deal easier in this release with an update to YAST's Network Card configuration.

Though YAST only supports a few wireless network cards Natively, this can also be reinforced with the use of ndiswrappers which gives the user the capability to take advantage of Microsoft Windows drivers. Because of this, most Windows 32bit Windows Wireless drivers will work in Linux.




The next big update to YAST is the built in support for WPA-PSK authentication. In the past, this was largely a manual process which required the user needing this type of authentication to make manual changes to the wireless startup scripts. Now, YAST has made this part of the wireless configuration. Thank You Novell.

KDE 3.3
For those of you who have not had the opportunity to try KDE 3.3 let me tell you it is a big improvement and worth the upgrade. The speed and reliability of this release brings KDE that much closer to a solid desktop alternative to OS/X or Microsoft Windows.

Note: KDE has released KDE 3.3.1after Suse 9.2 and I would expect that Suse will offer this as an update option via download. 3.3.1 addresses some minor issues with KDE 3.3 and should be installed.

Other Updates
Other updates include the latest version of Open Office 1.1.3 and X.org. These two enhancements offers new flexibility and speed to a Suse GUI installation.

MONO, not Mono the virus! Now this is very exciting. Mono is a cross-platform development environment which is similar to Microsoft's .Net and Novell has supplied over 60 developers to this open source system. Best of all, Suse 9.2 adds Mono as a package install, not so in 9.1. Also Mono was a hard install in 9.1 if you could even achieve it.

* Mono brings an Mono IDE, Compiler and optimizer for Linux. Everything you need to develop .Net applications for Linux and Windows is here. That is big news!

Where to get it
I downloaded the Novell Suse Linux 9.2 Live CD from Suses ftp site at Suse. As of the of this writing it could only be found via download from the ftp site and not available from the actual web site.

* Update: The 9.2 Live CD is available from Suse's web site at http://www.suse.com
Also, only the Live CD was available and not the entire installation directory or personal edition.

Problems
I think this release is as solid as 9.1 but offers the speed and updates that come with KDE 3.3.

* In version 9.1 I did have installation problems due to the fact that Suse did not install certain programs by default which would give the user the impression that 9.1 was buggy. I do not know if they have resolved that with 9.2 as I do not have the installable version handy for this writing.

The mouse on my Compaq Presario R3000 laptop is a little buggy as well. Sometimes the "Double Tap" of the mouse pad works and sometimes it does not. I should also add, the driver for my mouse pad is available from the manufacturer so instead of pointing at Suse, the finger should be at the installer! :)

Finally I had to configure the monitor settings to achieve 1280x800 for my 15.4" flat screen. I thought Novell would have addressed this issue in this release, a little disappointing. But needless to say, this could be achieved within SAX and I did not have to drop to the command line to accomplish this feat.

Closing
If you are in need wireless or in need of a Linux distribution then I would recommend Suse 9.2, if wireless is not needed then consider staying with 9.1 and running the updates which download KDE 3.3.1 which are available from Suse's web site. (If you need Mono, install Suse 9.2)

9.2 is a nice release but does not warrant the potential damage of a 9.1 installation at this point. Why? Because if you have upgraded your 9.2 installation with most of the available updates like KDE 3.3, then why risk possibly damaging a good install. The biggest reason to switch to Suse 9.2 now is for mono and wireless updates, and if that is not part of your ritual then I think 9.2 is not either. Just an opinion.

There are a great deal of exciting improvements coming to Linux over the next 4 months with KDE moving Konqueror to Gecko, KDE reworking the GUI system, Release of Mono 1.0 (and 1.2 with windows system.forms coming), Suse making inroads on Wireless and X.org's hard work on the X system itself. Suse has demonstrated its committment by producing this excellent distribution and with the backing of Novell; I believe Suse is one of the best distributions today.

And remember, by using the Live CD you can try Linux without making any changes to your current systems configuration or operating system. It is a great way to give Suse 9.2 a try.

Other Reading
Installing a Bug Free Suse 9.1
KDE 3.3.1
Is Mono Bad for Linux


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