OpenSuse 10.3 Is A Dissapointment
I spend several hours setting up OpenSuse 10.3 RC1, because of the many new features advertised by their screenshot showcase. However I had many problems with it, most of which overshadowed the advantages I would be gaining. I would not say that the problems where because of the “testing” status of the version, because I run into them when I tried to install OpenSuse 10.2 earlier in the semester. In the end I did manage to solve all of them, but it took some time because of poor documentation and a lack of tools. This can turn off many new users, even the more advanced ones who want to try out new cool toys (like me) that OpenSuse 10.3 comes with. That is why I decided to write this review, to show the problems I ran into, and how I managed to solve them so others won’t have to go through the same frustrating process as I had to.. I will be writing a more detailed documentation of them later on, so if you need more information then subscribe to my RSS feed. Finally just to get one thing straight, I am not complaining about the OpenSuse development, the problems I’m experiencing could be because I might have an unusual setup. I think that overall they have done many things rights, and after everything has settled I’m starting to really enjoy my experience.
The installation medium I used was the KDE CD and the Non-OSS CD that I downloaded from their website. The page was very informative, and it explained what each CD did. The installation wizard was quite simple, and I managed to setup all I needed. However my wireless internet connection did not work in it (more on this later). The wizard even asked me to insert any extra CD’s that I downloaded, so I put in the Non-OSS CD. This automatically decided to install features like the flash player. This is very convenient for those that do not mind a bit of closed source software on their computers. What was disappointing though is that the binary nvidia drivers that provide full 3D support were not on that CD. It might be a good idea to include them for the users that want some Compiz goodness on their desktop. However there was one big problem during the installation that prevented me from installing the Non-OSS software, but this seems like one of the “beta” bugs and should be fixed by the final release. When all the packages were being installed, at one point the wizard asked me to swap the CD’s so it could copy the Non-OSS RPM’s. I pressed the eject button, thinking that it will pop open my CD tray, but instead it gave me an error that the package was not found and the installation will be aborted. So I just ignored the Non-OSS CD until I had a running system.
I use the Belkin F5D7050 Wireless USB Stick that has open source drivers available from the rt2×00 project. OpenSuse 10.3 comes with the driver loaded by default, but not fully functioning. Every time I tried to start the interface by doing “ifconfig wlan0 up”, I got the following error:
SIOCSIFFLAGS: No buffer space available.
It turns out that I needed to manually install the rt73.bin firmware into the /lib/firmware directory. You can download it from the RaLink website. The package you need is available through their Linux support page, and is called Firmware RT2501USB(RT2571W/RT2671).
This was the most annoying problem of them all that I also experienced with OpenSuse 10.2. I chose a generic LCD that supported 1680×1050 as my resolution, because I could not find the LG Flatron L226WT on the list. The result was a desktop too large for my screen. By this I mean that I could see the middle of the kicker panel and a bit of the desktop. Everything else was outside of the screen, and I couldn’t even scroll to it. I solved it by installing the binary nvidia drivers (I have the EVGA E-GEFORCE 8600GTS) by follwing the Hard Way of the Official OpenSuse Nvidia Guide.
But that is not the end of my problems. Now that I have the binary drivers, I still do not have 3D acceleration, at least according to SaX2. I keep getting the following error message:
SaX2 cannot offer activation of the 3D subsystem because your graphics card/driver doesn’t support 3D.
This is not correct because I can run glxgears without any problems. I’m still searching for a solution, because I would like to try out Compiz and other composition effects.
This is the most annoying thing that I found so far. The CD did not come with certain basic tools that I needed to get certain modules running (ei: nvidia, CVS of rt73). I had to go into YaST -> Software -> Community Repositories and enable certain repos. You can see from the screenshot below which ones I enabled, but the most important is the OSS repo.
Then after about a half an hour of downloading package definition, gcc and make (along with many other missing tools) were available from the YaST software management menu.
There are certain other problems in OpenSuse 10.3 RC1, but those are minor bugs charasteristics of any release candidate. For example, Firefox freezes every time I try to highlight a link. I will be testing this version for one more week, and depending on my experience I will stick to it, or switch back to Gentoo. Right now after I have ironed out all the big show-stopper problems, I’m really enjoying OpenSuse 10.3! I will be blogging about my full experience in the future.