I have to admit, over the years I haven't given openSUSE enough love or credit for being the outstanding Linux distribution is it. With that said, I wanted to give some attention to the latest release coming out of the openSUSE project. And, since the default desktop for openSUSE 11.4 is KDE, I will be giving a little extra attention to the KDE desktop. Since both might well gain some serious ground, when Ubuntu 11.04 is released, it will be nice for users to not only know of its existence, but to also know that openSUSE 11.4 is, in fact, a solid distribution worth giving a look.
There is a lot to be said in this category. The openSUSE 11.4 release offers the following updates:
KDE Plasma Desktop 4.6: openSUSE might well be the first distribution packaging the most recent KDE desktop by default. Although KDE 4.5 probably brought to the users the single most amount of bug fixes ever, 4.6 does a great job of upping the performance ante once again. KDE 4.6 is an incredibly solid desktop that any user would be happy to have as their default.
You will also find better KDE to Firefox integration in the 4.6 release. As well KPackageKit has become the default update applet.
Web browsers: Speaking of Firefox, openSUSE 11.4 ships with Firefox 4.0 and the latest release of Konqueror (The version of Konqueror installed is the Webkit version.) But don't think you are limited to those two browsers. You can now easily add Chromium to your desktop through the Add/Remove Software tool! Before you try to add Chromium, you will have to enable to community repos by following these steps:
Now you can search for Chromium and install it.
Office tools: I was pleasantly ssurprised to find LibreOffice pre-installed on openSUSE 11.4. I believe openSUSE might be the first of the distributions to ship with LibreOffice as the default office suite! You will also find the standard KDE office tools along side LibreOffice.
Multi-media: Banshee 2.0 has been added and is used as the default media player in openSUSE. In order to have this on your desktop by default, you will need to download the full DVD install and not the Live CD. If you do install from the Live CD you will be able to install Banshee from YaST2 by simply searching for "banshee" (no quotes) and installing. I would, however, suggest installing from the full DVD, in order to get the complete openSUSE experience.
Over all take
I have to say I was quite pleased with how well openSUSE runs. Not only is it quite stable, it's also lightning fast. The only problem I came across was with the effects engine. The machine I tested on is able to use all visual effects in both Ubuntu and Elive, but openSUSE seemed to not be able to run KDE with visual effects running. So effects had to be turned off. Outside of that small issue, the experience with openSUSE 11.4 has been quite good.
Who's it for?
Would I recommend openSUSE for a new Linux user? No. But if you are comfortable in the Linux environment, openSUSE and KDE 4.6 will be a welcome change. If, however, you are a new user who really wants to cut their teeth on something with a bit more power than Ubuntu, openSUSE might be just the distro you are looking for.
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.