Saturday, November 29, 2008

Fedora, OpenSuse, FreeBSD, OpenSolaris

I've been running Fedora for some time at home and on several work computers--most recently the latest Fedora 10 development branches. I ventured out to try OpenSuse, and brought in Beta 5. I must admit, I was blown away. I had last run OpenSuse a year or so ago, and was not as impressed as I was with Ubuntu at the time. In case you're wondering my preferred Linux distro goes something like this ( this goes back a ways )


Even given all the hype around the recent Fedora 10 release, I am still much more impressed with OpenSuse. I prefer zypper more than yum, and YaST2 either in console mode or graphics mode is much nicer than anything I've seen in Fedora or any other distro I've tried.

Earlier I posted about Fedora directory server and openldap. Well, I'm running OpenLDAP now and very happy with it. Fedora still has the nice gui admin tool. I stumbled on OpenSuse's User and Group Management tool which fully and graphically supports a back-end ldap configuration. So, it's easy to manage your ldap users with OpenSuse!

OpenSuse is well polished, looks great, easy to install ( again the best installer I've used ), the DVD even has graphical tools that analyze and help you fix a broken system.

Bottom line, if you haven't tried OpenSuse, I'd recommend trying release 11.1.

In my spare time the last few days, I also tried out FreeBSD. I ran it on my laptop for a few days and was impressed--getting to know the system and how it worked in comparison to Linux. I often try testing things out first in a virtual machine, but I don't think you really know an OS until you run it on bare hardware--especially with things like 3D acceleration support and hardware support.

I eventually decided I would really test it out, and cleared of my home server/workstation--could FreeBSD support everything I needed??? The first road block I hit was no NVidia 3d support on the AMD64 bit platform. Even though I checked NVidia's site, I somehow missed the i386 on the driver listed. Ok, I'll through on the i386 FreeBSD version. Well, this time I realized that virtualization products ( like VirtualBox I use ) have not been ported to any BSD. I do like running VirtualBox on my Linux system. We'll, as much as I wanted to really dig deep and run FreeBSD, I decided against it--I could have lived without VirtualBox, but knowing I had full 64 bit 3D support on Linux and VirtualBox, I decided Linux suited my needs better.

Next stop...OpenSolaris 2008.11. I'd run 2008.05, but had to ask myself what it really gave me over Linux outside of ZFS and DTrace which I can personally live without. I installed 2008.11 on my workstation. OpenSolaris has a great installer--very simple. Booting up caused me a little pain, because the installer did not overwrite my previous OpenSuse boot loader. I had to wipe out the MBR, reinstall, then it was fine.

OpenSolaris 2008.11 booted up into Gnome and it looks great. It immediately identified my printers ( both HPs ), but I had no full sound card support. I ran it for a bit, but was again asking myself, "do you really want to go through the trouble. Re-compiling from scratch all the packages you just get with a standard Linux distro. Installing add-on packages just to get features you get out of the box with Linux like firewalls, traffic shaping, network virtualization??" Not that those couldn't be done with OpenSolaris, but again I asked myself "why go through the pain?" when Linux already does it and does it very well. The answer was "no", and I am back with OpenSuse.

OpenSolaris and FreeBSD are great operating systems, however, Linux has come a long way and has so much to offer me today.


ngrover said...

Nice summary. I've been loving Ubuntu for a couple years now but the itch for Fedora has set in (I at least have to sample what else is out there from time to time). My delema as far as Fedora vs OpenSuse goes is that I really like Gnome over KDE (I'm not wanting to start that debate) and This is where I see OpenSuse and Fedora differing. Perhaps I'll try both but I think Fedora may be more worthy of my experimentation time given the Gnome factor...

Michael Martin said...


OpenSuse allows you to download either the GNOME or KDE livecd to play with and then install from. The DVD installer boots into GNOME for the install, however, during the DVD install, you can choose if you want GNOME or KDE to be the initial desktop. I've been running GNOME from both the x86 livecd install and the amd64 dvd install. Either distribution allows one to switch after install, or install both desktops. Since you like GNOME, I'd suggest grabbing the OpenSuse GNOME livecd install. Play with the livecd for a bit, and then install if you like it. This link here shows some screenshots from the 11.0 GNOME livecd install. From a quick glance at the site, it looks like things haven't changed much in the OpenSuse 11.1 Beta install.

Nikesh Jauhari said...


I tried almost all distro ...

Redhat, Debian, Fedora, Ubuntu, etc .. and finally stick to OpenSuSe.

I started with OpenSuse 9.1 and currently running 11.0 and waiting for 11.1