Open Suse vs. Ubuntu: Open Suse is from another planet
I was a long time Ubuntu user (for about 3 years). I started to use Ubuntu at version 7.04 (code name Feisty Fawn) and I stopped using it at version 10.04 (code name Lucid Lynx).
I have to mention that during all this time, I installed Ubuntu just once (some time during 2007) then I upgraded this system using Canonical's upgrade instructions up to version 10.04.
After I upgraded the system to version 10.04 it started to be clear that I needed a change. After the last upgrade I faced many issues:
- I spent half a day to bring the printer to life again;
- my DVD-WRITER was not working any more (I couldn't even read DVDs). At that point
I almost bought myself another DVD-WRITER because I could not imagine that a
simple OS upgrade could break my DVD-WRITER; In my book, this is a very basic need
and every Linux distribution should make sure that the "basics" are always working.
This time my luck came from ... Windows (bleah). I don't remember the reason but someday I booted in Windows XP and while I was there I had the curiosity to check my DVD-WRITER. To my surprise and fury, the DVD-WRITER was working perfectly in Windows XP - I was even able to write DVDs while in Ubuntu I couldn't even read a DVD any more.
- copy & paste would randomly stop working with very popular applications like Firefox, Thunderbird or Open Office;
- I could not use my 16GB memory stick any more; Ubuntu had big trouble accessing it (I do remember that in the end I managed to solve this issue by mounting the thing manually);
Every Ubuntu upgrade was painful and I needed almost 1 full day to make 90% of it functional. As history shows, I went through a lot of upgrades:7.04 => 7.10 => 8.04 LTS => 8.10 => 9.04 => 9.10 => 10.04 LTS
Like I said before, each upgrade had it's share of problems and this process never gave me the feeling of stability & predictability. Each time I managed to make the system functional with more or less effort but I was not eager to explain to a third party what needed to be done because on almost all upgrades significant time had to be invested in reading HOWTOs and forum posts.
Now let's talk about another Linux distro - a *Martian* distro, because quite frankly I have the feeling that this distribution is *not* from Earth. As you may have guessed, I am speaking about Open Suse.
I decided to try this distribution because Novell was the company behind it. When I was a student I had to face Windows instability in many occasions (just like everybody else). I am speaking about the years '95 - '96. Back then Linux was just beginning to make waves and the Novell Operating system (Novell Netware) was still used on some servers at the University.
What attracted my attention was the stability of these systems. Such a system would just work for years (without reboots) on some tired servers while being hit by tens or maybe hundred of students at a time. What I also liked were Novell's manuals for the OS - an art work of pure engineering.
That being said, I installed Open Suse 11.3 on my PC. From the first moments I fell in love with this distribution: everything "just worked" (quite frankly, I never had this with Ubuntu, at least not at this level). Since using it I never had copy & paste issues in any of the applications that I use. I also like their interface - I think that it is much better than what Ubuntu has to offer. The start menu from Open Suse is just more friendly and easier to use than Ubuntu's version.
What trigger me to write this article is the fact that *today* I updated my system from Open Suse 11.3 to Open Suse 11.4. Having Ubuntu's experience under my belt, I prepared myself (mentally) for a hard working day, but ... I was in for a surprise.
I followed the upgrade instructions from this page:http://en.opensuse.org/Upgrade
It took me a while to sort out all the repositories. To my luck, all the 11.3 repositories that I used had 11.4 variants.
At first I fully upgraded the system to the latest of Open Suse 11.3. Then I fixed the repositories and I started the upgrade command with a full download of all packages that had to be installed:
This would protect you in case there is a network failure. If the network would become unavailable during the upgrade while using the standard upgrade method (fetch then immediately install) the system could be left in an unstable state (it may even fail to boot).
The install took a while to complete (around 1.5 hours) and in the end I had a system fully upgraded to version 11.4 that required NO human intervention what so ever!!!
EVERYTHING JUST WORKED!
Even my Virtual Box install was seamlessly upgraded to a new version of Virtual Box without my intervention. I remember that with Ubuntu with each upgrade of the kernel I had to recompile some libraries used by Virtual Box. True, it was nothing fancy (just a simple command line instruction) but image how good it can be when ... you don't have to do any of these!
Bottom line: the attention to details that you get in Open Suse is most probably unmatched by the current competitors.
I recommend to all users that want to try Linux to start with Open Suse. Ubuntu has a more powerful marketing team and everybody is speaking about it but the real diamond in the Linux world is Open Suse and not Ubuntu.
PS: What I like most in Open Suse 11.4?
- speed: the system *is* significantly faster than Open Suse 11.3 (it looks like I can delay my CPU upgrade a bit more :D )
- Firefox 4: indeed, the browser supports hardware acceleration. On Open Suse 11.3 if I had two movies playing in 2 tabs, switching between tabs was slow (depending on the load, this simple switch could take seconds). In Firefox 4 I had yet to wait for such a tab switch.