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A reader recently asked me whether I prefer SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop, or openSUSE?
The problem with the question is that it requires so much explaining. At the moment, I prefer SLED10.
- SLED is currently the latest, greatest desktop distribution from Novell.
- SLED is a rock-solid release. I have found that its reliability is matched by the refinement and polish of the interface. It’s fantastic.
- SLED has the Enterprise driver download process, which provides me new revisions of Nvidia and ATI drivers whenever Novell posts new kernel versions. (Sorry, but I hate doing builds.)
But my current preference is not my general preference. You see, in a few short weeks, I will switch to openSUSE, just as beta 1 comes due.
- I am not an enterprise user. As an an end-user, I am generally ahead of the helpdesk. Also, being a techie who works amidst scores of people who are very Linux-savvy, I can easily get peer support, as well as community support very easily.
- openSUSE keeps me closer to technology’s leading edge. As we get further from SLE10’s release date, it will become clear why SLED10 is an enterprise version: it’s designed and managed by Novell to be dependable. Consequently, it will not to stay on top of the rapid changes being developed in open source, which causes some churn for the user. But as SLED’s impressive debut fades into its intended purpose, let’s remember that enthusiasts generally agreed that SLED10 was a breakthrough release for Linux dirstributions, and will be remembered as such. So, openSUSE will continue to lead with new features and innovations, and the gap between SLED10 and openSUSE, as well as a variety of other community distributions, will increase.
- With openSUSE in beta 1 comes feature freeze, which means that the pre-beta mayhem goes away, allowing me to settle into the calm turmoil of beta cycles. I joke, but it means that updates will be easier and less likely to add or remove features.
- openSUSE 10.2 will debut some cool new KDE features. I have been using GNOME almost exclusively through the whole beta cycle of SLED10. That’s mostly because SLED10 was bringing so much new stuff in GNOME. As 10.2 draws nigh, KDE will get its chance to strut its stuff a bit, and I want to be in the know.
Does that mean that I will I stick with openSUSE from then on? No. In about a year, I’ll start to track SLED11–probably when it reaches its first beta. I suspect it will attempt to outdo its predecessor almost the way SLED10 made the once well-revered NLD9 look like a child’s plaything. I hope to do the same thing I did through the SLED10 beta-to-release timeframe: track the tech and share with people what’s happening with it.