SuSE 8.1 illustrates MS' fear

by Volker Weber

Anyone wondering why MS execs Steve Ballmer and Brian Valentine are so bent out of shape about Linux should check out SuSE's most recent distro, 8.1, for insight. For a desktop PC or small-biz network it's already miles ahead of Win98-SE and ME and closing fast on XP for ease of installation and use by first-timers.

The user experience is so close to XP now that one can expect it to surpass it in the next edition or the one following. Now add to that Linux's resistance to viruses, the comparative speed with which open-source security bugs get fixed, the wealth of free applications included, and the GPL enlightenment that allows you to install it on as many machines as you please and upgrade it free of charge on your own, and you can see why MS is feeling the heat around the corner and not taking it terribly well.

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Comments

Although I don't agree with some parts of the article - especially those where the author got the facts completely wrong - I really do agree with his conclusion. SuSE 8.1 is a major step forward but still needs a lot more fine tuning to be really usable on the Desktop.
(Sidenote: It won't allow you to install via FTP/HTTP/NFS, so it's probably nothing the owner of this great site wants to try :))

Stefan Rubner, 2002-10-24

Ok, I have to take back the above side note. Of course you can install SuSE 8.1 via HTTP/FTP/NFS - it's just that the documentation they ship with the product is outdated and therefore plain wrong. Instead of copying all files into one directory you have to make different directories named CD1, CD2 and so on and copy the whole contents of the corresponding CD into them. Stupig bug, should have been changed with 7.3 even.

Stefan Rubner, 2002-10-24

In regards to the response from Stefan Rubner::
I just finished downloading the 8.1 distro and discovered the following way to install::
create the bootable cd-rom using the boot/boot.iso image. Using the bootable cd tell setup for "Manual Installation". Setup your network driver manually if necessary... then proceed with your standard installation. The installation was rather seamless at that point. -Chris
(I came to this way of doing it after spending hours fiddling with SMB, NFS and FTP). Perhaps the CD1 hack above will work for that technique.

Chris Danielson, 2002-10-29

Thanks for the tip. Unfortunately it won't work for me because I don't have a cd-rom drive in my laptop.

Stefan Rubner, 2002-10-29

Does anybody know whether you can use ftp to upgrade 8.0 to 8.1. I had no problem during my initial install of Suse 8.0 via ftp. I burned the boot.iso, performed a manual install, loaded the correct driver for my network card, typed in the correct ftp address and path for the distribution. But when I tried to upgrade to 8.1 following the same process, the installation program informed me that I could only do a fresh install of 8.1 and not upgrade 8.0

Allan, 2002-10-30

I tried to install SuSE 8.1 through NFS by making
a DVD copy on the hard disk ...
but it didn't work!

Can someone help me ??

Arnaldo, 2002-12-03

I can't get the nfs install going with SuSE 8.1 either, and it is proving to be a real pain in backside. (Guess what? I didn't want to install a distribution, I wanted to get on and do stuff).

First I installed SuSE 8.1 on my server. Unfortunately I had an unusual setup with an IDE CD-ROM and a SCSI CD-RW burner on my nfs server machine, and configuring this broke YaST's "select source medium" options, and I couldn't get it back.

Don't know if this is has something to do with the shift from lilo to grub. I would have thought that such a fundamental shift would come in the move to an x.0 release, but what do I know. Presumably 8.0 should really have been 7.4, and 8.1 is really 8.0.

Next I tried SuSE 8.1 on my little laptop with a network card but no CD. It recognised the network card very well, but the install broke after the 1st CD restart. Maybe an nfs install mounting the DVD would work better, but I don't have one handy right now.

Tried copying all the CDs onto the hard disk of the server, but whatever way I tried it couldn't get the nfs install to work with the server: whatever way I try it, yast won't recognise my hard disk copies of the source CDs. This may be my incompetence, but I have tried as many things as I could think of: mounting/not mounting the .iso using -oloop, naming them arbitrary|SU810.00x|CDx

SuSE 8.1 is nice, but I agree with the Register's reviewer when he says it lacks polish. What this really means is: it looks good when you start, but like all Linux distributions, when you get in there, stuff breaks or doesn't work; with unlimited free time you will surely fix it. Whether this is better than closed source software--which offers you the binary opposition of it working out of the box, or not at all--depends on your spiritual attitude.

Douglas Carnall, 2003-02-03

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