October 09, 2007

openSUSE 10.3 metareview

So a few days now since openSUSE 10.3 release. I reviewed the reviews of 10.3 that my RSS feed agregator has accumulated in the last 5 days. The results somewhat surprised me as I thought we had addressed the most common complaints with 10.2 and previous versions of openSUSE. Also reviews of the pre-releases had seemed very positive. The reviews were divided as follows:

Bad: 11
Neutral: 2
Good: 2
Invalid*: 4

  • Simply re-pastes or rehashes of Novell/openSUSE press release.

Not including reviews published by openSUSE community members.

The good news is that it seems we are competing on technical merit again, The MS-Novell FUD has mostly been dropped.

Comments on news sites, IRC, and mailing lists seem considerably more favourable but are a more biased source.

Anyhow it seems we have an entirely new set of most frequent complaints for 10.3…

Most annoying issues [ Going by reviews ]

1: Installation issues caused by mirror infrastructure problems.

Hopefully will somewhat resolve itself as demand decreases, but clearly a problem that needs to be addressed.

2: Codec installation still too difficult.

I am at this point unsure how this can be improved:
MP3 support installed is by default with dvd / cd + internet.
– Attempting to play codecs which arn’t available leads to page with instructions involving just a click to install. Perhaps need to monitor some users to see where this process is failing.

3: Enabling compiz too difficult.

It seems everyone expects compiz to be enabled by default nowadays, probably thanks to ubuntu enabling it by default in gutsy. In my opinion it is still not appropriate to enable by default as I’ve not seen any hardware on which it doesn’t cause instability with long periods of running (nvidia or ati). However, it seems most users don’t like having to find a checkbox to turn it on, and or experiment with whether AIGLX or XGL works best with their hardware.

4: Java crashes with gnome.

A conflict between gnome’s crash handler and java’s seems to be causing java applications to crash for gnome users. Fortunately this is not affecting KDE users.

5: No live-cd

This is a misconception – livecd with live-installer will be available in a few days once some critical bugs have been fixed. Although the traditional installer will still be more functional & more reliable.

6: Online repositories included by default during installation.

This was in response to user demand for easier network installs, and 1 cd install media while still having all the software they were used to installed by default. To not utilise the online repositories One simply has to uncheck a box. Not having it selected by default would break “click next” network installs, and mean that users of the 1cd install media would not have any of the features that many users want such as codecs, flash etc.

7: Unspecific performance complaints

Rarely substantiated with benchmarks or analysis it’s difficult to comment on this one. It is clear that in the average case 10.3 both boots faster and package management operates significantly faster. Perhaps people are comparing performance with beagle in suse to without beagle in another distribution, etc.

8: Too complex installer

Somewhat puzzling as the “click next” approach should work completely, now that we have separate KDE & GNOME media. Sure removing functionality from the installer is possible, but would break use cases. Some things can be made friendlier, but as long as you can click next repeatedly you should at least get a working system, and if you need to customise the install you have full control over the procedure.

What can we do about these?

(1) Will improve as the mirror infrastructure load decreases, and as improvements are made to the redirector, It’s a shame it has given some people a bad impression at release, hopefully it will mature quickly.
(2) Could be improved for 10.3 if the problem is with http://software.opensuse.org/codecs design, or the YMP composition etc.
(3) Could perhaps be improved for 10.3 by additional packages which can be easily installed, but we obviously can’t go back and enable it by default.
(4) Should be fixed by an online update first.
(5) Should be partly fixed when the livecd is released, although I’m skeptical about the maturity of the livecd installer, it might cause more problems.
(6) I think this is just a case of “you can’t please everyone” and we did pick the right default for 10.3. Users do want most of the software that is installed, people still complain that the entire double-dvd worth of software is not included on the 1cd. Also network install difficulty was a big complaint in the past, which is now a non-issue. Hopefully this will be complained about less when (1) is improved.
(7) Not really anything that can be done about this one except optimisations where specific problems are obvious or reported.
(8) Not something that can be fixed for 10.3

Anyway, try it out for yourself and let us know what can be improved on the mailing lists ( http://lists.opensuse.org ) and on bugzilla ( http://bugzilla.novell.com ).

- 9 comments by 1 or more people Not publicly viewable

[Skip to the latest comment]
  1. Frank D.

    For #8, how about providing an install dashboard that looks something like the current www.opensuse.org startpage, or some creative/elegant yet simple variation… with choices such as
    A- build me a workstation
    B- build me a server
    C- let me take control

    where for “A” and “B”, the bare minimum questions are prompted to the user during wizard and acted upon resulting in a working workstation or server at end of install, and “C” would provide the existing complete controll of the installation process.

    Also, following the current opensuse startpage theme, for “A” provide a drop down for Gnome or KDE as desktop similar to the language choice for “Discover it” on the website.


    09 Oct 2007, 04:14

  2. Oleg

    I think overall a lot of people that I talked to are very positive about openSUSE 10.3 I think what we are missing is Graphical Documentation (GD). What I mean by that is openSUSE wiki is getting better and better, but most people are puzzled by some of the instructions and language.


    “OpenSuse official how to page on Compiz/Fusion is NOT well written and is confusing(imagine that this is your 1st expirience with linux??) and does not reflect the true situation with Compiz/Fusion on Suse 10.3 KDE which is that it is VERY tricky to make it work like it should…

    If I come up with the solution, I’ll make sure to write it so that it leads to real solution and can be used if you are NOT a linux pro…”
    (this is from here: http://www.suseforums.net/index.php?showtopic=39829 )

    I think it would be a good idea for most hot topics create “official” Graphical on-line documentation were you can see step by step, picture by picture instructions how to accomplish certain task. ( Compiz (for GNOME and KDE), Codec Installation …...

    Just a thought…

    09 Oct 2007, 07:00

  3. Darkelve

    I think one of the main problems is, everyone has his pet feature; and also, expectations about ease-of-use are changing, becoming more demanding… meaning people do not expect a link to a web page with instructions, but instead a link/button they can click which immediately gets them what they are looking for.

    Multimedia and 3D desktop effects are ‘hot’ right now and it seems that not everyone got a good experience with those (myself I had some problems enabling nvidia 3D support in sax; and the Black Screen of Death with Compiz Fusion after a KDE reboot).

    Users (ugly word really, ‘users’...) do not want to jump through hoops but still sometimes they have to, and this creates negative feelings towards the distro they are using.

    Personally I think this is a superb release, but I was also hoping that Compiz Fusion would be better supported and tested.

    Also, an aside remark: a function to delete Beagle’s history is missing in the GUI… for example I do not want it to index my web pages, but it does by default. Once I notice this, there is no straightforward way to delete the index or parts of the index.

    09 Oct 2007, 10:34

  4. augustmiles

    Well, I started with suse 7.3, and for me it is back up to neutral- after very negative 10.[12] experiences.
    Things on updating several 64 bit machines-

    Do I really need to be prompted for all the kernel modules during install- like reiserfs needed to mount my root partition.
    Yast should know how to do this

    Many conflicts if you have installed from packman or elsewhere- needs many rounds of clicking/checking
    to resolve, at least 10 minutes. Many trivial-
    —change vendor? -> yes tens of times over several rounds.

    I like the Big DVD edition- I use lots of scientific software, plotting etc. Thats why I take such a full distribution.

    My Imapd was erased

    pango-32bit is corrupt on the 64bit dvd and hangs the install

    gnome-settings-daemon is linked against the wrong libraries and does not start- requires extra hand installation with rpm

    gnome-main-menu crashes and removes itself (so far on 3 machines). Gnome then left in almost useless state

    beagle hammers the system as soon as you finish installation- when you are trying to do useful things like install the correct
    rpm for the settings-daemon.

    Yast still steals focus, many-many times when installing/updating.

    When you have 6 repositories the search feature in software-install hangs- you can’t always search for rpm’s.
    Needs an xkill.

    09 Oct 2007, 17:19

  5. FunkyM

    For me this is one of the best releases since a long time. Did a straight upgrade without issues from 10.2. Desktop & System feels faster, has the latest software, package management stack finally does work efficiently, compiz-fusion installed from online OSS repository worked flawless replacing my old one, Yast-GTK is very cool to make the whole system feel more consistent …

    Only minor issues with the Yast-GTK installer being a bit too simple and perhaps improvements on existing functionality but from the overall judgement, I really wonder how those bad reviews come up.

    09 Oct 2007, 20:07

  6. Darkelve

    Also when using Yast in KDE, I would prefer the Crystal style icons!

    10 Oct 2007, 06:51

  7. @Darkelve just install yast2-theme-openSUSE-crystal

    10 Oct 2007, 08:06

  8. ra100

    to Darkelve: http://www.kdedevelopers.org/node/3017

    18 Oct 2007, 20:06

  9. g.leej:neighborlee

    hi there,
    I agree that compiz is just NOT stable..that is my ubuntu experience; not that that says anything on its own but who knows..I will try it in opensuse10.3 once its installed..honeslty I ‘hate’ this whole restricted garbage and I HOPE suse has not taken to it . I like nvidia..I NEED their drivers,,I dont NEED tosee ‘oh it restricted so we can’t guarantee the safety yadda yadda’..its all complete FUD to get nvidia to drop to their knees and open the source. non oss FUD’ers go away we like nvidia just fine; if they open it all up someday FINE more power to them but at least they have given us linux uses something to hold onto and use ;)

    Thank you nvidia please ignore the whinners.


    30 Oct 2007, 18:25

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