- Gateway M680 with 2.13 GHz Pentium M, 1GB memory, ATI Mobility X700
- Gateway M685 with 2 GHz Core Duo, 2GB memory, nVidia Go 7800
- DIY with 2GHz Athlon XP 3200+, 1GB memory, ATI 9700 Pro
All Live CDs booted successfully on all three platforms. Every major subsystem worked including video, audio, hard drives, CD/DVD drives, networking (note exceptions below), and USB devices. The graphic rendering on the notebooks in was particularly crisp, especially with regards to text. It should be noted however that the use of DejaVu Condensed is the preferred font for both Sans and Sans Serif for just about any rendering, especially on the Firefox browser. DejaVu gives the best user experience when rendering complex text or web pages, matching what can be found on Windows and Mac OS X.
- The Live CDs could not enable wireless networking on the Gateway M685. The M685 is equipped with an Intel Pro/Wireless 3945 ABG chip set. I have not had problems with this chip set for some time, with either older versions of openSuse or other live CDs such as Ubuntu 7.04/7.10 and Fedora 8. The older M680 notebook's wireless chipset worked flawlessly.
- The 'Install Software' icon on the KDE desktop does not work. It fails with an 'SU failure' message.
- Attempts to enable hardware acceleration or to enable desktop effects failed across all three machines. For the Gateway and the DIY platforms Desktop Effects Settings reported that my graphic card was not in the Xgl database. Sorry, folks, but after all this time I would expect the ancient 9700 Pro (Radeon R300) to be there, and since the nVidia is in a notebook that is nearly two years old, I would expect the GeForce Go 7800 to be in there as well.
Overall the Live CDs were solid performers when all subsystems worked, and regardless of problems they were fast and stable. When the Gateway M685 was plugged into a wired network connector I was able to reach the network. While the eye candy parts failed, the 2D rendering was as expected. Every machine's display was working at it's default maximum, which on the notebooks was 1680 x 1050, something I found impressive. I have not booted any distribution's Live CD to date that would boot both notebook's screens into 1680 x 1050; it was either one or the other, but never both. Whatever is in running underneath Xorg (RandR 1.2?), it's impressive and bodes very well for a much more robust display subsystem in upcoming distributions, not just openSUSE.
I found the Gnome Live CD desktop to be the most pleasant to work with, which was quite surprising to a KDE user such as myself. Of the three openSUSE 10.2 desktops I use, two of them are KDE. The third is Gnome, and only because of Java. The KDE desktops I have are highly configured; for example I use the Polyester theme, which is very much like the Gnome Clearlooks/Nodoka themes I currently use and have seen. If I upgrade to 10.3, I may very well switch to Gnome overall and pick up the KDE applications I use, particularly Konqueror and K3b. I'm no longer interested in trying to figure out how to make the latest KDE look like Gnome.
I had high hopes that I would migrate the DIY platform, europa, to 10.3 RC1, but I will hold back to RC2 or final. I've spent too much time setting things up, and I have neither time nor desire spending more time upgrading and then tweaking again.