It's Distro Time

June 22, 2008

OpenSUSE 11 Installing

The time has come around again for me to do some switching around with regards to the Operating System I use on my main computer, my Dell XPS M1330 laptop.

Up until yesterday I had been using a dual boot system consisting of Ubuntu 8.10 Hardy Heron which I have been using on and off since the alpha stage of it’s release.  Along with Ubuntu the other OS was Vista Home Premium.

So why did I feel the need to change this set up?

To be honest I have been more than happy with Ubuntu for a long time but I wanted to switch from the dual boot system with WIndows eating up half of my 250gig hard drive, to a streamlined linux only option.  I don’t use Vista often enough to justify it being installed here.  I do, however, have Vista Ultimate on our desktop should I need it for whatever reason.

After deciding to get rid of Vista I could simply have deleted the partition, formatted it to ext3 and added it to the Ubuntu partition and edited the grub bootloader.  But I decided to take this opportunity to try out a few new major Linux distribution releases and then stay with one based on whichever I prefer.

First off was Fedora 9 which although very smart looking failed me due to issues with the way the display is managed.  The fact that there are problems getting the proprietary Nvidia drivers working for my mobile laptop graphics card is something I can’t live with.  Stuck without this working properly the system runs hot and the display simply isn’t up to scratch.  Maybe Fedora will be worth another look when this issue is resolved properly through the repos provided.

Next up was Linux Mint, which is a perfectly fine distro.  It is basically a modified Ubuntu Heron which includes the restricted extras like codecs.  The front end is very smart indeed but I found that it was basically a pretty Ubuntu and the extras are things I already had working in Hardy Heron.

I am currently writing this on the Gnome version of openSUSE 11.  This is definitely a promising distro and one which I have not used for any length of time before.  That is about to change however as it installed like a charm detecting all the relevant hardware, including the wireless, out of the box.  I need to keep an eye on the battery life as that is one thing I have discovered with different Linus Distributions on laptops.  They all seem to use up battery power at different rates by default, with Ubuntu being the easiest on power consumption as far as I can tell.

Next on my hit list is Debian, which I have used before and I know will take a bit more setting up on this laptop.

At the moment though, as I said, it’s time to give openSUSE a fair run out.  I’ll post my thoughts on it later.