Review: openSUSE 10.2 Earns A Seat At The Head Of The Table - InformationWeek
05:53 PM

Review: openSUSE 10.2 Earns A Seat At The Head Of The Table

Columnist Eric A. Hall was looking for a Linux distro that combines stability with the capabilities needed to test bleeding-edge technology. After a long search, he found that openSUSE 10.2 was up to the job.

Outside the set-up process, however, the hardware system seems to work pretty well, with just a few annoyances, and there are many improvements as well. For example, the Intel Ethernet drivers in SUSE 10.1 had a nasty habit of leaving the hardware in an error state during shutdown, which in turn prevented the system from being managed with IPMI over the network, but I've had no such problems with the drivers in the 10.2 release. On the other hand, the IPMI support in 10.2 is a little weak in general--the power-down function is mapped to the user power control, so a remote power off signal will cause a logout dialog box to appear instead of putting the system into shutdown mode. Meanwhile, the IPMI plug-in for lm_sensors requires kernel features to be enabled which are not present in 10.2, so I have to use incomplete legacy sensor interfaces to monitor system health.

There are some other hardware improvements that are worth noting. For example, openSUSE 10.2 includes version 5.37 of the smartmontools package, which supports monitoring SATA hard drives directly. openSUSE 10.2 also includes version 2.04 of the nut UPS toolkit, which includes support for the Tripp-Lite SMART2200RMXL2U in my rack, which is good because Tripp-Lite's own software doesn't seem to work with this setup. Overall, hardware support is all-around better, and the few things that don't work are not show-stoppers.

Applications And System Services

On the software side, the most visible difference between openSUSE 10.2 and prior releases is the inclusion of a new menu system in KDE and Gnome. The KDE menu has received a fair amount of praise, but I run Gnome on the servers that have a GUI (fewer features translates to fewer potential problems), and I found the new Gnome menu to be rather unhelpful. The new menu uses a drop-down box to choose between "favorite applications" and "recent applications," with everything else behind a "more applications" button. I found that I was hitting the "more" button more often than not, which was taking longer than just traversing the legacy hierarchical menu, so I went back to the classic menu instead.

While I'm on the subject of the GUI, I should mention that openSUSE 10.2 ships with release candidate 2 of version 7.2.0 of the X.Org X Window System. While this isn't much of a problem for server systems that don't need fancy graphics, it has proven problematic for my desktop systems, given that there aren't many proven third-party drivers available for it yet. I have already had problems with OpenGL on my ATI graphics cards, for example, which came as a bit of a surprise since these systems worked well enough on prior releases of the SUSE 10.x line.

4 of 6
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Oldest First  |  Newest First  |  Threaded View
How Enterprises Are Attacking the IT Security Enterprise
How Enterprises Are Attacking the IT Security Enterprise
To learn more about what organizations are doing to tackle attacks and threats we surveyed a group of 300 IT and infosec professionals to find out what their biggest IT security challenges are and what they're doing to defend against today's threats. Download the report to see what they're saying.
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
White Papers
Current Issue
Top IT Trends to Watch in Financial Services
IT pros at banks, investment houses, insurance companies, and other financial services organizations are focused on a range of issues, from peer-to-peer lending to cybersecurity to performance, agility, and compliance. It all matters.
Twitter Feed
InformationWeek Radio
Archived InformationWeek Radio
Join us for a roundup of the top stories on for the week of November 6, 2016. We'll be talking with the editors and correspondents who brought you the top stories of the week to get the "story behind the story."
Sponsored Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.
Flash Poll