openSUSE 12.1 - two months later


Updated: January 25, 2012

As you know, for me, openSUSE 12.1 was a flop. I was so looking forward to the distro, and then it disappointed me, on two separate occasions. On my high-end machine, the repositories were all broken, so I could not have Nvidia drivers, as Gods of the Internet intended, plus the media playback was flaky. On the low-end machine, BTRFS setup was buggy and the performance sucked. I vowed to delete the openSUSE 12.1 installation from my multi-boot setup and revert to the previous version. But then I didn't.

I decided to wait a little and see how things worked out. I knew that the repository issue was just the matter of time, which however does not diminish the significance of the earlier findings in my reviews. Approx. two months after the distribution was officially released, I connected the external disk to my laptop and fired it up. First, I enabled the Nvidia community repository, and this time it worked fine. Then, I ran zypper and let it grab everything.

Any change?

Yes, things have changed. After installing the Nvidia drivers, the desktop is behaving markedly better. The fans are spinning less, the system is more responsive, the boot is a little faster, there's no dimming of the splash screen, and the delay between the desktop environment coming up and being usable is markedly shortened. I really don't like Nouveau drivers. Kudos for the community effort, but it's misplaced.

Moreover, some 250MB worth of updates seem to have brought in a handful of fresh changes and fixes, including multimedia playback, which now works well. Since I've subscribed to several community repositories, including Mozilla, LibreOffice and Virtualization, I also enjoy the latest releases of their software.

Combined with the FormaN windows decorations (thanks Ocky), openSUSE 12.1 starts to behave and resemble a system that it should have been two months back. System usage is at around 700MB, comparable to most KDE implementations on top of this machine. Suspend & resume work just fine. The rest of the stuff is ok, too.

Desktop, 1

Desktop, 2

Decorations, 1

Decorations, 2

Conclusion

openSUSE 12.1 was released too early. Period. Had the developers waited another 5-6 weeks, they would have produced a stable, robust and useful distribution that could have easily competed with the top of the line offerings on the Linux market. Alas, peer pressure and whatnot led to an underwhelming autumn debut. In fact, so bad that I completely skipped openSUSE from the best distro competition.

Even now, the bad taste of betrayal remains. But openSUSE 12.1 has become a usable system. I am most pleased by the responsiveness of the user interface and the perfect integration of the graphics driver. The rest of the stuff adds to the feel, including little things like the VLC holidays perks, the lovely theme and a range of latest versions of popular programs. Speaking of system packages and updates, zypper is that much zyppier than before, it seems. Could be my impression or just bias after trialling the less successful first release with Nouveau crippling the desktop.

Today, openSUSE 12.1 would deserve 9/10, but it cannot be. As such, it's a good distribution, if you are willing to forgive the botched work shortly after the release. I guess I will not be deleting 12.1 from my disk, but my innocence has been lost forever. Shed a tear for me now, save it for the morning after. Duran Duran, I think? There you go.

Cheers.

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