Saturday, 27 April, 2002
SuSE Linux 8.0
I've been tinkering a bit with Linux at home, although I haven't mentioned it here in quite some time. Today I bought SuSE Linux 8.0 at the local Fry's, along with a DVD-ROM drive to replace the CD-ROM that died last year. I installed the new drive, popped the SuSE install DVD in it (SuSE 8.0 comes in a package with 7 CDs and one DVD), and rebooted. First problem. My 6-year-old Dell Dimension didn't know how to boot from the DVD. The Web is a wonderful thing, though. A quick trip to Dell's support site, and I had a new flash BIOS upgrade on diskette. I then was able to boot the DVD, and I selected the "New Installation" option from the first install screen.
The folks at SuSE have been listening to people like me rant about the difficulty of installing Linux. Their installation process is very much improved over the 7.0 version that I worked with about 18 months ago (seeDecember 17, 2000). The new installation program did an excellent job of detecting my hardware, and leading me through the install process. I set the options and went to take a nap while the install proceeded to copy files from the DVD onto my computer. When I came back, I verified a few options (screen resolutions, sound card settings, and network configuration), and rebooted. With very little effort, certainly no more than was required to install Windows ME, I now have a fully-functioning Linux system running KDE 3.0 and StarOffice. I haven't tried StarOffice yet other than to start it up, but I'm going to give it a whirl. Since my new writing project is Linux-centric, perhaps I'll do the writing on the Linux box. The only drawback is that the computer is relatively slow: a 200 MHz Pentium with only 64 MB of RAM.
The KDE folks have been busy, too. At first glance, I find KDE 3.0 to be a reasonably good GUI. I'll have to work with it for a while before I give it any stronger endorsement, but it's a huge improvement over the KDE 1.2 that I've been running for two years.
I still have reservations about Linux as a general-purpose desktop operating system, but I'm going to give it another try. The progress that SuSE and the KDE team have made in the last two years is astounding. If other Linux software has evolved similarly, then perhaps my next computer upgrade will find the Linux box as my primary machine. Wouldn't that be something?