Saturday, May 13, 2006

OpenSuse 10.1 Final installed

I upgraded my notebook to OpenSuse 10.1 Final this weekend. Once again, upgrade is a misnomer, as I actually performed a re-format of the root and a new installation. I used Suse 10.1 RC3 as my 'launching pad'. Here's what I did to prepare for the installation.
  1. I downloaded the ISO diffs that allowed me to upgrade from the RC-1 ISO images to the final release images using applydeltaiso. I ignored the MD5 sum that applydeltaiso produces. I created CD ISOs 1 through 5 as well as the add-ons ISO.
  2. I burned all six ISOs to CDROM using K3b. K3b works fine as long as it's allowed to burn the ISOs undisturbed. I thought I'd be cute and do other work on my notebook while K3b was burning. Turned out that of the six CDROMs I created, three of them failed their checksum tests under initial self-test. I had to boot back up under RC-3 and reburn the failing CDROMs. On the next self-test attempt they all passed.
Once all the CDROMs were burned and they all passed the initial self-check, I went on ahead and installed final over RC-3. The only change I made from earlier installations was to register the add-ons CD during the setup process so that I could choose packages from it and have them installed during the Grand Installation. I also made sure that the notebook was plugged into a network so that the installation update procedure would succeed. Wireless does not work during the final installation stages.

After shuffling all six CDs into the machine and installing all my choices the system came up and I was logged into my account. I have /home on a different partition such that when I have to install a new distribution (or a new version of a distribution) my environment stays intact. It's worked for quite some time now and keeps me from wasting time re-configuring my working environment.

As usual, the only way to get wireless to work was to install the Intel drivers by hand from the add-ons CD. Registering the add-ons CD where the drivers are located during the initial installation did not help. It did, however, help with the firmware installation. I don't know why it helped with the firmware but not the kernel driver. Once the driver was installed Network Manager found the wireless connection and started to manage it.

Although it was provided on earlier release, this is the first time I've had Java 1.5.0_06 integrated into my installation. Older versions of Suse, or other distributions, used older versions of Java (or worse, the Gnu version of Java). It's good to have a contemporary version of Java integrated into a contemporary Linux distributions. Suse 10.1 also has the latest version of Mono (C#) integrated, and I installed the full packages in order to try it out under Linux.

Nearly everything works. Functionality that was partially broken, such as automounting of CDROMs, thumb drives, and my WD 80Gb Passport, now work. Plugging them in causes an icon to appear on the desktop and Nautilus to be launched. The only feature that is still broken is audio. I have no sound, and I don't know why. This is no show-stopper, but I'd like to know why audio is broken.

There were no Nvidia RPM packaged drivers available, so I installed the driver via the package provided on the Nvidia site (currently 87.56). Do not use the instructions for installing the driver under 10.1 beta. Sax2 hangs if you try. Just install the driver and then execute nvidia-xconfig. Reboot the system and it will use the Nvidia driver.

I'm going to continue to use OpenSuse until the commercial boxed version is shipped, then re-install one more time. There'll be more commercial tools and drivers in the boxed version, and it may well be that audio is finally fixed. I've noted in the past that the commercial versions of Suse are always highly polished, especially when support of contemporary hardware is needed.

With the exception of audio, OpenSuse 10.1 is a good, solid performer for me. 10.1 represents further refinement and evolution, with the pace picking up from the time before Novell purchased it. Novell's purchase of Suse has helped Suse tremendously. I just hope that Novell succeeds as a Linux business. I like Novell, their products, and their customer service. That's why I want to purchase my boxed set. I'm sold on Novell and see no reason at this time to consider any other Linux distribution on the x86 platform.

Note: Here's a good link to Linux in general, with a lot of reviews and talk about Suse 10.1.

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