SuSE Linux

So, goodbye RedHat, hello SuSE. Specifically, SuSE Linux Enterprise Server 8.0, SLES for short. (Are people who run it SLESbians?) First impressions:

The installer is horrible. RedHat managed to detect the right graphics drivers for the (5 years old) S3 hardware, why couldn’t SuSE? Why does the help tell me to use + and – to select and deselect things, when they don’t actually work on any of the stuff it‘helpfully’ auto-selected for me? (I eventually worked out that you had to push F3 for that.)

Insert CD #1. Insert the other CD #1. (Yes, there are two disc #1s. Stupid.) Insert CD #2. Insert CD #3. Insert CD #1 again. Insert the other CD #1 again. Insert CD #2 again… are we going through the whole sequence again? Nope, insert the first CD #1 one last time then reboot. Umm, couldn’t they have spent a little time optimizing the number of disc swaps here?

Ignore the boot message which tells you to go back to your X environment to continue installation, because (a) I didn’t install X and (b) it’s lying anyway, it’ll continue the install regardless. Well, at least it managed to count the number of processors correctly, unlike RedHat. Created the accounts, seemed to work.

Logged in to a look around. Noted that the default set of‘helpful’ tcsh configuration files helpfully break rsync and any other software expecting to be able to ssh without getting a load of crap added to the data stream during login.

The default set of “minimal” packages for a server was pretty darn eccentric in my opinion, maybe it makes more sense if you’re German. Perhaps German corporations have a vital need for CD ripping software (cdparanoia) on their servers? I’d have been happier if they’d made sudo part of the normal install rather than an optional extra, myself.

Anyway, I turned off as much as I could during the install, so my first action on logging in was to go see what it had turned back on.

OK, why the hell do I have freetype, a package of PNG icons and a set of Tk interfaces to Python, even though I have no X whatseover? Is there some kind of ASCII-art output option for freetype and Tk now?

I also asked it not to bother with ACLs and the corresponding utilities, but apparently they’re compulsory; I guess I’ll allow that for an enterprise server distribution.

I’d have been happier if it had defaulted to installing only one of LILO or GRUB. Ideally whichever one it was planning on using, since I’m being picky. As it was, it defaulted to installing both, and when I tried to remove either one, gave me a warning dialog saying I might make my system unbootable. I guess I’ll go see what it’s using… It’s using GRUB. Well, I guess I can rpm -e lilo…

I dunno, so far I’m not favorably impressed. Decidedly… blah. Not sucky, but hardly the slickness and attention to detail I’d been led to expect.

It also detected the RAID array and installed the necessary packages, but didn’t offer to configure it. RedHat scores again.