Sunday, April 19, 2009

How Novell is Killing SuSE Linux

I just can't hold back anymore. I've been running Linux a long, long time, and in the past five years, I have been working more and more with SuSE Linux. About five years ago (roughly), Novell acquired the rights to SuSE Linux in the United States. They created a set of custom distributions (SuSE Linux Enterprise Desktop, SuSE Linux Enterprise Server), but there plans beyond that have always been questionable. Personally, I am not sure if Novell is even sure which direction they are heading.

One of the first things they did was replace the functioning OpenSuSE mirror system with something of their own design - something that will fail with any large update. Each mirror "hides" behind - so the end user has no control over which mirror they are using (all up to Novell). This would not be so bad, but with almost every large update, there is always some piece of software missing. Frequently, this breaks the entire system. You cannot simply choose another mirror - you're pretty much dead in the water until someone updates that mirror (which you can only find out by keep trying the update again and again until it works).

Beyond their issues trying to keep their mirrors together, they seemed to forget the purpose of an operating system with the release of OpenSuSE 11.1. Now, most of the time with software, a "dot" release is an update, not a complete rework. Not so for Novell and SuSE! OpenSuSE 11.1 breaks more things than it fixes. In 11.0 sound worked, you had a configurable (and more secure) login manager, just to name my two biggest annoyances. My SuSE 11.0 played sound beautifully, PulseAudio worked well, and I had made this system a central part of my music system. That was over as soon as I upgraded to 11.1, where it seems like they pretty much threw sound out the window.

And then there's Novell's commercial offering. SLES and SLED 10 have held on to Java 1.4 well beyond it's end-of-life, and now SLES and SLED 11 are skipping right to Java 6. So, for all those apps certified for Java 5 (like, well, all of them), obviously SLES and SLED are not for you! Or, be prepared to maintain your own custom install of Java, separate from the system (and why are we paying for support?). Worse, their "support" forums actually suggest users mix their distributions - just combine OpenSuSE repositories with the SLED/SLES repositories in your list of update sites. Following this piece of advice will guarantee you break your system beyond repair!

Novell has made SuSE into a useless nightmare. All the predictions were true.

Go Ubuntu!!!


KenP said...

I run openSUSE on a daily basis on my work laptop. I haven't had any issues whatsoever.

Agreed that one has to fumigate mono out of openSUSE upon installation but then I do that with every distribution!

If you just want to switch to Ubuntu or want to propagate this blog as an advert ;-), you, of course, have that right.

Eerde said...

I have the same issues with openSuSE 11.1 its seems to get worse . I have been using SuSE since 2001 , so I know my way around. These days I update only when there is some very good reason. Individual programs, yes, no problem. The worst that can happen is that that program won't work.
Kernel updates ? No Thanks !
System wide updates ? No way !

Apart from these annoyances openSuSE is perfect for me and I have it installed as dual boot next to XP on my sons and my Acer One's. Install, get wifi and sound and flash etc working....... and don't touch it after that. ;)

KenP said...

@Eerde: Every few days I run "sudo zypper up" on my openSUSE for a system-wide upgrade.

So far, I haven't had any trouble or non-bootable system.

What kind of issues have you really faced with upgrades on openSUSE?

Eerde said...


Many !
It all depends on your systems hardware as well and previous config.

Mainly that the xserver will not start, "no screen found" or "screens found, but no usable resolution/config", or that the MBR is corrupted, the menu.lst changed, that sort of thing that comes with the breaking of kernel modules.
Or programs that will not start (Bluetooth) without error display. (I need to find the right logfile.

Linux has one, just one ! thing that it can take from windows: restore point.

The Acers have had problems with, sound and wifi, but as I said I know my way around after 8 years so I am fine.
What I resent is that new GNU/Linux users are 'put off' by these kind of problems, specially sound/flash integration, the most used features.

Please don't think that I am negative about GNU/Linux or openSuSE, just recently I have allowed windows products back into the house, for over 5 years I had a very strict policy: No windows allowed !

There are many, many advantages and openSuSE is my poison of choice.
I lave the 'repositories', stability, far better security (AppArmor & SELinux) the Unix like structure etc. etc.

I love the configurability of my openSuSE 11.1 - KDE 4.2.2 system, Ubuntu cannot beat that.