In the end, I just couldn't resist OpenSuse 12.3 because it is so freaking beautiful. I just love the wallpaper. That's my rationale for overwriting Linux Mint 14 with OpenSuse 12.3. End of story.
Easy Download & Install
Here's what I liked about OpenSuse 12.3--I downloaded it via torrent. That's nice, because it meant that my copy was downloaded verified and without errors, and I didn't have to do an MD5 checksum on a downloaded .ISO. I also like the idea of helping out by uploading some data to others. The torrent for OpenSuse is well-seeded, by the way.
I also like that OpenSuse released a new version ahead of the *buntu family of distros, because that meant I could sample the new KDE and the new kernel without much effort.
OpenSuse did not install the first time I tried it. There was an error, but the medium I used was cheap Rosewill garbage. Rosewill is not known for quality when it comes to DVDs and CDs, so I was not willing to blame OpenSuse for the error. Instead, I clicked on the OpenSuse option to verify the disk, and thirty minutes later OpenSuse determined that the medium was indeed bad. I burned another disk, this time a Verbatim dvd, and my install proceeded without a hitch. The Rosewill dvd now rests at the bottom of my garbage can. I haven't had any Verbatim dvds turn up bad.
There were a couple of issues with OpenSuse 12.3. In the first place, my wired network was not detected even after reboot. Linux Mint detected it at once, but OpenSuse did not. I had to go into the network configuration and manually set the network to DHCP + zeroconf. DHCP alone would not work. That is a surprising bug for a modern Linux distro, because all the other distros I've tried have detected my network immediately. I don't have anything complicated over here, just plain old wired ethernet leading to a humdrum run-of-the-mill router.
I noticed Amarok was listed twice under the multimedia category in the Applications menu. I know now that one entry occupies a designated slot for "Recording" and one entry occupies a designated slot for "Audio Player," but still, that seemed buggy. I was able to delete the entry for "Recording" to eliminate the apparent duplicate.
I found that I could not uninstall Amarok by right-clicking on it in the Application menu--received an error for my trouble. Instead, I had to go into YAST to uninstall it. Not a big deal, but I don't think the right-click should offer to uninstall, if uninstall won't work.
VLC was not offered on OpenSuse's repositories, but I found VLC on the web and setting up another repository for VLC was fairly painless, after an initial trial-and-error. The instructions for adding a repository are not exactly clear, which led to the failure of my first attempt. Installing VLC took about twenty minutes in all due to the many downloads needed. I should mention that in Linux Mint, VLC is installed from the get-go, saving the end user time. I do not think there is any video player in the Linux world that handles all video and audio formats as well as VLC at this time.
Another issue in OpenSuse 12.3 is that the OS does not remove the install DVD from the repository list by default. That means the user will get an error anytime he opens up the software updater, unless the DVD is still in the drive. I had to go in to the repository editor and delete the dvd from the list of repositories. I suppose that this is by design, to save bandwidth on downloading things that happen to already exist on the dvd. However, the dvd does not get updated and will not have the latest versions, so I wonder how useful it really is to keep the dvd as a repository. In my opinion, the dvd should be removed from the repository list at the end of the installation process.
Another thing I've noticed just typing this blog post in is that a line disappeared on its own from my screen. I have no idea why. A line in the above paragraph simply became invisible until I highlighted it with my mouse, and then it reappeared. That was strange, but it could be a Firefox problem or any number of other things. This problem has continued throughout my post, with lines disappearing seemingly at random. The space occupied by the lines is still there, and the text in the lines is not erased, and I can make the text reappear by highlighting it with my mouse, but it is strange to see them blink in and out like that.
I intend to continue using OpenSuse 12.3 at least for a while to get a good feel for it and see whether I like it better than Linux Mint after all. So far, I don't feel that OpenSuse has saved me time or effort in comparison to Linux Mint, but I do like the wallpaper much better and certainly an updated version of KDE is nothing to sneeze at. I am interested in the one-click install capability, which OpenSuse has but Linux Mint does not.
Tips & Tricks to Using OpenSuse 12.3
I've decided to use this post as a catch-all journal for my ongoing observations about OpenSuse 12.3. There are many of what I regard as peculiarities, eccentricities, yet it is also true that what is an eccentricity to one fellow will be a reasoned design decision to another. It is also true that every Ubuntu distro in existence has left me cold, and I found numerous eccentricities in them as well. So far, my favorite distro of all remains Linux Mint, and of the various desktop flavors, Linux Mint KDE may be the best--but it does not have the best wallpaper. OpenSuse 12.3 has the best wallpaper. I think that somebody who really understood design worked on that wallpaper.
Military Time, Please
Oddly, OpenSuse places a maze before the user when it comes to changing the format of the time at the lower right of the desktop. There are many dead-ends in this maze, but only one valid GUI path to changing from the AM / PM relic to military, twenty-four time--the time format that computer programmers and scientists use to get work done. After quite a bit of poking around, I found the trick. Right-click on the time, choose "Digital Clock Settings," select Appearance, and then click on the wrench icon, followed by the Date & Time tab. Then you can change the time format to HH:MM:SS. I have had to do this on every Linux distro I've ever installed. I also like for the day of the week, followed by the alphabetic month, one- or two- digit day, and four-digit year to reside below the HH:MM, but this was much easier to accomplish and does not bear explaining.
A New Kernel for OpenSuse 12.3?
One of the first things I did after installing OpenSuse 12.3 was to upgrade the kernel to 3.8.3. Upgrading the kernel is much easier in OpenSuse 12.3 than in a Ubuntu or Linux Mint distro. One simply goes to http://software.opensuse.org/123/en, types in kernel, and then a page with various kernel flavors opens. The number of choices seems bewildering, but I chose kernel-desktop for my desktop, which seemed logical enough. The default version is 3.7.10, but one can click on "Show Other Versions," followed by "Show Unstable Packages," which will pop-up a warning message. Continue, and there are several kernel versions available for one-click installation.
In following through this procedure once again, I did not see kernel 3.8.2 available for OpenSuse 12.3, let alone 3.8.3, which is what I have installed right now. I do not know the explanation for that. Perhaps problems were detected in these kernels, and they were taken down overnight by the admins. Another possibility is that I may have chosen a different branch of the kernel packages. I don't remember. At any rate this information may be helpful to those OpenSuse users that want to try out the latest and greatest Linux kernel.
I sold something on Ebay today, and had to print out postage. OpenSuse wanted to print to a file, which might be useful if the post office accepted postage via email, but alas, the post office is an old-fashioned outfit.
At first, I tried something called Print Management and was presented with what looked like a web page for CUPS. The "Add Printer" option triggered a pop-up asking for my username and password. When I entered these, they were rejected, and all future attempts to add a printer were rejected as well. I don't know why, as I had entered the correct admin name and password for my system. By searching online, I discovered that YAST was required to set up a printer.
I tried the YAST printer utility, but encountered greater complexity than I thought possible for a printer. There were options that I had never heard of with jargon bandied about. The menus seemed complex, and I was not sure which option to choose. I tried to setup a network printer, but OpenSuse could not find my printer on the network, even though Linux Mint and Windows had no difficulty in doing so. Experimenting was punished by lengthy, unexplained delays, sometimes of several minutes, and canceling an ill-chosen option was not always possible, so that more and more time was lost. Eventually I set up my OKI printer only to discover, alas, that it was set up not on the network where it resides but on my parallel port, which is not in use and never will be in use. I did not see any option for removing the non-existent printer, either; it remained there, defiant, ready to accept test pages. Little or no explanation was available for any of the menu options; the set-up "Wizard" must be a fellow of few words. Apparently, I am supposed to already know such terms as "IPP." I spent an hour trying to get OpenSuse to find my network printer, to no avail. The documentation on opensuse.org did not work, and the various dialogs for print management and the lengthy unexplained delays associated with them did not inspire confidence.
Of note, I still have lines of text blinking in and out on my screen as I type this blog post. Lines disappear, only to reappear at random.
Also interesting is that earlier today, I attempted to copy files from a Windows drive to the OpenSuse drive, and after half an hour the GUI was still churning its wheels, with 0 bytes copied. I am not sure what it was doing, and possibly it was not sure either.
I decided this afternoon that I am going to reinstall Linux Mint KDE, because the printing problem in OpenSuse caused dismay. I don't want to have to take a crash course in CUPS or learn a lot of jargon in order to print. Disappearing text was also a concern--I don't want to have lines of text play leprechaun tricks on me. I think I have a greater appreciation now for what Ubuntu brings to the table. It far less likely I will leave the Ubuntu family of distros anytime in the foreseeable future.