SuSe 7.0 Professional

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Reviewer:  Chris

If you want to get almost everything you could need in one place, than this is the distribution for you. SuSe 7.0 Professional comes with over 1500 applications. A wide variety of commercial software including Database software, Office products, Emulators, Games, Web Authoring software, and much more. It also includes just about every major Window Manger, for the X Windows environment, including KDE & KDE 2 (beta), Gnome, Windowmaker, IceWM, BlackBox, and others. You will also get both XF86Free 3.x and 4.01 for you X windows enviroment. The trade off for all of this software is that it takes a lot more disk space to install SuSe 7.0 Professional than it does to install other distributions like RedHat or Edesktop. The benefit is that you don't have to spend much time downloading packages to install to get your system running the way you want it to.

Now, moving on to the actual operating system itself. The GUI based installation is fairly simple, with very little for the user to mess up. The partitioning of the hard drive, a major turn off for newbie's, is handled in a slick interface that allows the novice user to get the hard drive prepared with almost no hassles. While the advanced option will allow the experienced user customize the partitions however they want to. The enormous number of built in applications lets you install almost anything want during the initial installation, saving you the time of having to install them later. While the minimal installation only uses around 600 MB of drive space, the average install I did took between 2.5 GB to 4 GB of drive space. I installed the default plus office and then I selected all of KDE, KDE 2, and Gnome. I also installed the multimedia packages, Network / Server packages, and bunch of commercial applications. Like MySql server Abadas D Database, Star Office 5.2, and couple other applications.

After the installations is completed (it takes about 2 hours to install). You will start off with the KDM login manager, the default desktop is KDE, but you can change it to any other window manager that you installed. The KDE interface is pretty standard the only exceptions are the SuSe menu and the Configuration modules. All of the SuSe add-ons to KDE have the SuSe lizard on them or say SuSe. One major drawback of using SuSe 7.0 is that most configuration changes are made in the YaST and YaST2 modules. While some people love the interface that they provide, I've always found them a little clunky to work with. Another problem that I found is that the packages don't that you installed won't start unless you go into the YaST module, and change the configuration files to start the applications on startup. While its a minor inconvenience I've found it to be annoying. Other than those minor foibles the distribution is as solid as any other on the market today, and includes a great deal more than most distributions.

In my opinion the best thing about SuSe 7.0 Professional is the added video support. Finally I've found a distribution that I can use with Xwindows on my laptop. For the masses of people out there who purchased a Compaq presario laptop think that just because the Trident adapter was on the supported video card list they could use Xwindows, only to find out that yes with a little work you can get a Xwindow session, but the picture sucks, at last there is hope. Using SuSe 7.0 I can finally get a 800 x 600 screen with decent color to work on my presario 1200 laptop. Before I had to download XF86Free 4.0 and install it separately to get a picture with decent color. However when I did that a bunch of my other applications used the previous version of XF86Free's library and they would stop working (bummer). With 7.0 everything is built in so there wasn't any problems.

So if you want a distribution that has everything in spot, or your video and audio performance was poor on other distributions, this may the best distribution for you. If you are used to configuring your services on other distributions, I'd be a little wary of switching to SuSe. YaST is little different and takes a while to get used to.