Saturday, April 29, 2006

More Suse 10.1 RC-3 observations

A few more observations as I work longer with Suse 10.1.
  • Since Beta 9 the gcc version has been 4.1. I bootstrapped 4.1 on Suse 10.0 and used it to build everything on that platform.
  • The latest kernel version is 2.6.16.11. This is the same as is currently available (at this point in time) on kernel.org. This is the first time I've seen a distribution track this closely to a kernel release. It was 2.6.16 that provided the necessary drivers for the Gateway's SATA drive.
  • glibc 2.4 is the latest and greatest release on ftp.gnu.org. It was release March 6th. I've been building glibc lately for some embedded work, and I was using version 2.3.6, the last release in the 2.3 series. The 2.3 series is still being maintained. The 2.4 series is for kernels in the 2.6 series and later, specifically greater than 2.6.16, the version shipping with Suse 10.1. Additionally glibc 2.4 now only supports NPTL pthreads.
  • Gnome on 10.1 is still at 2.12 (2.12.2). Gnome 2.14 was released March 15th, which put it back in the beta release cycle. Considering that Suse will standardize on Gnome, I find it surprising that two recent releases, Fedora Core 5 and Ubuntu Dapper Drake, are both using Gnome 2.14.
  • KDE on 10.1 is at 3.5.2. Released March 28th (nearly two weeks after Gnome 2.14, see above), it's been a part of 10.1 since at least Beta 9.
  • Firefox 1.5.0.3 is in RC-3. This is the quick bug fix that was just reported this week (Friday the 28th as a matter of fact).
Just about everywhere I've looked Suse 10.1 seems to be using fully up-to-date applications, libraries, and tools. The Suse developers seem determined to have the most current packages at the time of formal distribution release. This is a quite welcome change from the past, where many packages, such as gcc, were one, two, or more releases back when a new distribution was released. Even the Addons have the up-to-date releases of many commercial applications, such as Java 1.5_06.

The distribution does not suffer from keeping up with current releases. Far from it. The overall polish and performance of Suse 10.1 RC-3. Yes, I have problems with wireless (which I fixed) and sound (which is still broken). And there are some minor quirks that bother me. But overall this is a rock-solid distribution that supported all my core subsystems such as the nVidia Go7900, SATA drive, wired networking and all USB peripherals out-of-the-box. I didn't have to download any additional drivers or perform special configuration file tweaks for the core subsystems just listed to get Suse 10.1 installed and productive.

I believe the reason Suse 10.1 is this close to the edge is that it will be the foundation for Suse 10 Professional. I'm sure that even more hardening will take place before Professional's release, and the wireless issue of having it work right at installation will be corrected. But I don't think it will update any of the packages unless it's for security reasons. I'm well aware that this is the early, Open version, and all that it implies. Suse 10.1 is on track to become the brightest star in the Linux desktop distribution universe. I like it a lot.

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