My Impressions of SLED (SuSE Linux Enterprise Desktop) 10

By | 2006/10/31

This last weekend put me on a distro rampage, the kind that we’ve all gone through at some time. I think it was brought on by the holiday of releases last week. Fedora Core 6, Firefox 2, Ubuntu 6.10.. a guy gets curious to see what is going on outside of his normal comfort-distro. Well, I triple booted Fedora Core 6, Ubuntu 6.10 & tried, yet again, openSuSE 10.1. I enjoy Fedora so far, and of course I’m a big fan of Ubuntu still (all of my machines, minus my server) is upgraded to 6.10. I was yet again let down by openSuSE 10.1. I did get the idea to try SLED 10 though, and this is my review. This post is written while using SLED 10.

1. The installation seemed long, reminding me of the old days of installing Windows. I suppose I’m used to a single-CD installation of Ubuntu so something that took an hour or more seemed long. I suppose installing from a DVD has more information, but the final installed footprint is just about the same so… it didn’t copy more data, just took longer.

2. I don’t like the idea of a 60 day trial & $50 for yearly updates and support. Seems like the old software licensing I’ve been trying to hard to get away from. I am using the trial with an “activation key” with no plans on paying to extend that.

3. I REALLY like the new navigation setup they have in SLED. One of my big complaints with openSuSE was the menu layout. It seemed like they tried to organize it to the point that it complicated things. This is a nice improvement in SLED 10.

4. My commonly used apps are all outdated from what I’m used to. The three apps I’m in regularly are Firefox, Evolution & gaim.

5. Firefox is still back at (I understand it hasn’t been a week since release.. I’m being patient with this one).

6. Evolution is at 2.6 from what I can tell. I’ve been using 2.8.1 in Ubuntu for at least two months. I would think, considering Novell is the developer for Evolution, that they’d have the latest versions available.

7. Gaim is also back at 1.5, which is technically the latest stable, but Ubuntu & Fedora are using 2.0beta. This isn’t a big issue, just a step back from what I’m used to.

8. XGL setup was a breeeeze. I have an nVidia card, which was detected fine. SLED did tell me that my card was not supported for XGL, but considering I had set it up manually in the past I knew it would work. After clicking “activate” it logged me back into gnome & XGL was working. This is a nice feature for those that want it.

9. The default theme is very smooth. I think it looks very nice–better than the Fedora theme that’s still going on. (Thanks Gabe for the tip on Tango).

10. Manage Software surprised me by having all of the apps that I generally have to add second-hand. Gaim extras (otr, encryption), gstreamer packages, media players, etc. Everything I looked for appeared to already be installed, which was nice.

I’d love to hear some other reviews on SLED. I think with SLED Novell is doing a good job to push Linux on the corporate desktop. I think, with the $50 charge, it wont take off on the home desktop though. Its too bad, I’m fairly impressed so far and I MUCH prefer this over openSuSE. Upon first impression I would suggest SLED for a corporate setting. SLED has greatly upgraded my view on SuSE.. too bad openSuSE can’t do the same.