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Reader Question: SLED or openSUSE?

[DistroWatch Readers: Welcome! Thanks for checking out this post. Please also check out the podcast that I host, Novell Open Audio.]

opensuse_logo_white.gifA 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.


15 Responses

  1. Opensuse 10.2 should (at least visually) resemble SLED 10, AFAICR.

  2. Roy (1):    Right you are!  –T

  3. I still need to try Sled! I am going to try one soon!

  4. i like ubundu, and i have suse 🙂

  5. While i like suse/novell, i consider there sles,sled products pretty much the same.

    It depends if management of management wants to know the question ‘can i speak to somebody else about this’.

    I too have yet to move an 9.x infrastructure to a 10.x system my gut feeling is opensuse.

  6. I liked SLED 10 alot, but I wasn’t about to pay for it when the subscription trial ran out. I went back to OpenSuse. Plus I like having the coolest new things, even if it is less stable.

  7. I really like openSuse, I have used Suse since 9.1 and it just has a clean polished feel to it. I will wait till Open Suse 10.2 has finished it’s beta cycles though because I have one decent computer and it is my primary OS. I am sure it will be just as stable (probably more so with ext3) as 10.1 is for me right now.

  8. I use OpenSuSE 10.1 on my desktop and SLED 10 on my laptop. Since my laptop has the files I always need, I enjoy the stability.

  9. I have tried many distributions but reverted back to openSUSE 10. I tried both 10.2 and SLED numerous times and neither was able to configure key pieces of hardware on my work desktop and laptop (Intel soundcard and USB Wireless NIC respectively). In addition the updates to 10.1 didn’t work correctly and I found the SLED desktop, while pretty, to be excrutiating. Maybe it was too dumbed down for XP refugees, I don’t know.

    I will, no doubt try 10.2 when it comes out and hope the hardware and update issues have been resolved. I started with SUSE 8.1 and will likely continue as it represents a cohesive and mature distribution.

  10. openSUSE 10 does work very well.

  11. I started with Redhat 5.2, and since the move to Fedora, I left Redhat for SuSE. I couldn’t be happier.

    Currently I’m running OpenSuSE 10.1. I tried SLED 10 and thought it was perfect, but I too prefer a slightly more cutting edge distro.

  12. I love all things SUSE. I like the OpenSuSE 10.1 because there seems to be more being done in terms of developement on the net. I have run Slackware, Red Hat, Debian, Gentoo, Fedora and in my opinion Suse outruns them in terms of being user-friendly and support in the community.

  13. I love SLED, I’ve been counting down the days until it expires but I saddly wont be buying a copy – mainly for the reasons mentioned above :).

    I do of course like to be on the cutting edge and openSUSE is in my expirience a wonderful distro, especially since it became less KDE-centric :D. I hope they can continue this trend.


  14. For the record – I would now never recommend Novell’a Linux (any variety) since there tie up with Microsoft

    Fedora is now our distro of choice.

    I don’t pay the microsoft tax, nor should you.

  15. The “microsoft tax” as you state is not even there. It is essentially a sale from Novell to Microsoft in the ability to resell Suse for any customer of Microsoft that demands to use linux/open source.

    Novell has brought linux a long ways and will continue to do so. The subscription fee that you are paying for with SLED is the ability to maintain any and all updates to the packages included at an enterprise level, plus the ability to have top tier support if/when needed. If you simply want a single box for yourself to use, use opensuse, it is free!

    MCSE 2003 who uses SLED and OSX exclusively on his machines.

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