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KEY FEATURES The openSUSE project is a worldwide community program sponsored by Novell with the goal to serve the most usable Linux system. It is famous for its great configuration tools like YAST a complete control center for system administration. openSUSE is said to be one of the simplest distros to install and configure.
Supported architectures i586, x86_64, ppc
Minimal hardware requirements For text mode: 200 MHz Pentium-class, 64MB RAM, 620MB HDD. For graphical mode: 400 MHz Pentium-class, 192MB RAM, 620MB HDD
Installer - overall (9) YaST, the openSUSE installer is one of the best on the market. It is suitable for both novice and expert users allowing to install the system painlessly but also configure it in depth during the installation time.
Package selection (9) Present, it's one of the installation options.
Predefined package groups (8) Package groups contain: a minimum system, a minimum graphical system without GNOME and KDE, a standard system with Gnome, and a standard system with KDE. No "install everything" option.
Expert mode install (8) Expert mode available on most installation screens, very handy and useful.
Graphical installer (9) Fully graphical, intuitive installation using the YaST tool.
Installer speed (6) Quite reasonable installation speed. It takes 15 to 25 minutes when the default options are left. Although the installation can take much longer if you choose to have more software installed or you lack a decent internet connection (internet connection not required)
Graphical system management (8) YaST - a very well-designed and full-featured system configuration tool. Most of the typical system configuration can be performed here (including file sharing, users administration, firewall configuration and a lot more). The only issue can be random stability problems (similar to the Mandriva's drakconf).
Console-based system management (8) YaST is also available also in console mode.
Number of packages (7) SUSE has its own package repository which YaST uses for updates and new software installation. Still, Mandriva or Debian beats SUSE in package number, especially when unofficial packages are also counted. Overall, software certified by Suse works usually flawlessly. These packages that are not supported cannot be very reliable usually.
Package management, automatic dependency resolving (6) YaST resolves all dependencies automatically. Unfortunately it does not apply to non-supported packages. In this case, the frustrated user may have to deal with the famous "dependency hell" and a lot of manual program compilations.
Graphical package management tools (8) YaST - the graphical system configuration tool - is irreplaceable with supported software installation.
System boot-up speed (6) While not the fastest bootup, 10.3 has a much faster bootup time than 10.2, and beats some distributions. On my machine, it took Ubuntu longer to boot up than OpenSuSe 10.3, and that's just the tip of the iceberg.
System responsiveness (5) Acceptable speed and responsiveness, but no special optimizations for desktop speed.
Popularity (7) Very popular in German-speaking countries. After Novell acquisition, it becomes more and more popular all over the world as well (currently the popularity is close to Mandriva's).
Security focus (7) Since SUSE acquisition by Novell, the security is becoming even more important than before integration of AppArmor - a security pack focusing on "mandatory access control for programs, protecting against the exploitation of software flaws and compromised systems" - in the default installation of openSUSE is one of the effects of this.
Stability and maturity (6) Very mature project, closed source for a long period of time, but currently became more open following Novell overall strategy. Good support in case of any problems make it even more reliable. The openSUSE project is however more like a testing ground for the commercial SUSE products and thus, it is by design a little less reliable than the commercial brothers, SLED and SLES.
Does the installer support multiple languages? (7) openSUSE is a fully international product now. It has not always been like that with SUSE (i.e. before 9.2 version, some languages, like most of the Eastern European languages have not been supported).
Is the system localized after installation? (5) Similarly to the installer, after the SUSE 9.2 version release, the system is well-localized just after the installation for most of the common languages.
Is manual system localization easy? (6) Also manual localization has been simplified (thanks to YaST) starting from the SUSE 9.2 version.
Support for restricted formats (5) The openSUSE OSS version doesn't include any restricted formats support. They are however easily obtainable from the repos. The article Hacking openSUSE 10.3 from TheJemReport website describes the installation of non-OSS software in a very clear way. See also Restricted Formats/10.3 document.
Sagem DSL modem support (4) No eagle-usb packages. Kernel source and manual module compilation is necessary.
Alcatel DSL modem support (4) Like in Sagem, installation process is totally manual. A speedtouch.conf script (tested with Suse 9.1 and 9.2) can be also downloaded from to make the process automatic.
ISDN support (3) Tools and firmware in Hardware|ISDN group.
Wireless support (8) Very good support for wireless connections. Most of the cards are configured automatically during the installation.

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