After the surprising installation failure with Linux Mint 12, I moved on to OpenSUSE 12.1, 64-bit. It turned out to be a straight-forward installation, reminiscent of all the other OpenSUSE installations I've conducted in the past. Whereas Linux Mint (and Ubuntu) now hew to a very simplistic installation experience, OpenSUSE stays with their unique highly detailed and highly refined installation system. Normally I try to stay away from bunches of intermediate screen shots, but I've included these few for those who might be interested.
OpenSUSE has always been professionally oriented, going back to when it was just plain old SuSE. To the novice it may appear to contain a lot of overwhelming information, but it's the kind of information you actually need, and quite frankly should read at least once.
I chose KDE because of it's continuing evolution and because OpenSUSE is primarily a KDE distribution, in spite of Novell's attempts when it first purchased SuSE to convert it to a Gnome-based distribution.
The automatic installation step actually came after I was able to tune the installation parameters, especially what was installed. When I install a distribution I make sure to not install games, LibreOffice/OpenOffice and the distribution's version of Java. Everything else is basically standard.
This is the graphical boot screen after installing the distribution. I found it interesting that the VMware Player nag banner at the bottom disappeared after boot. I'm assuming that this version of OpenSUSE comes stock with the necessary VMware bits, just like it appeared to for VirtualBox.
I left the wallpaper and theme as stock, and will probably not change anything. While I'm not particularly partial to the overall effect, it's not so bad that I feel driven to make immediate changes like I felt after installing Ubuntu. The "My Computer" information give a pretty good idea of the resources provisioned for the virtual machine. You can even see that the binary ISO file is still mounted.
I'm a shell kind of guy. If I can't easily find a shell ("terminal") to work in then I consider that a pretty big mark against the distribution. For whatever reason Gnome has been making the shell harder and harder to get to. For a long time you could right-click on the Gnome desktop and get a menu that included the shell, but that entry eventually disappeared. It would up buried in the accessories part of the main menu. KDE 4 has kept it on the main menu tab for as far back as I can remember. And for that I'm appreciative.
Another minor but important feature to me is that the KDE terminal remembers its window size and position when it exits. I've often wished the Gnome terminal could do this, but it can't. The best I can do is define the geometry command-line variable in the launcher, and then move the terminal when it comes up.
I like the shading and shadow effects of this version of KDE. The KDE 4 desktop environment has now reached a level of polish and capability where any desires of going back to the KDE 3 desktop environment have been pretty much dispelled.
My only problem is with the Firefox browser. It can't reach the outside world because it can't reach the proxy server. Maybe I'm having a senior moment, but I configured Firefox just like I've done so many times before, and every other proxy configuration works. Maybe tomorrow I'll look at it again. Maybe I did misspell the proxy. Right now I'm not too concerned.
Personally speaking I miss not running OpenSUSE, and this version makes me wish I had it on my other notebook instead of Fedora 14 (Fedora 14, to be fair, has done nearly flawless yeoman duty over the past year). It's corporate policy that mandates Fedora. It's just my personal preference and past history that makes me long a bit for OpenSUSE.
OpenSUSE has evolved into a highly polished and well balanced distribution that bridges both the past and the future. It has come a long, long way since 2007 when I felt many of the major distributions had hit a low point quality wise. It is now one of the three I turn to when I need a Linux distribution at home or at work, the other two being Red Hat (RHEL/Fedora) and Ubuntu. It's high quality gives lie to the many Linux detractors and critics who spend their spare cycles critiquing rather than enjoying life.
Update 7 December
Bad case of the stupids. I forgot to define the default gateway (or if I did I forgot to save it). Once defined the network works fine, and I have full connectivity.