I did it! After running my IBM Thinkpad T41 for a year on Fedora Core 2, I decided it was worth switching to OpenSuSE, in an attempt to move back to the old days (0.96) when I first started with SuSE, trying before deciding to switch this site to OpenSuSE as well.
I started with the BitTorrent download. Initially, this was extremely painful, because bits would trickle in at a snail’s pace, but after applying routing changes suggested and waiting for a while, things picked up. Instead of waiting for four days things were over in about 20 hours.
Then I burned the ISO images from the torrent to CD, and restarted my machine. Everything went up perfectly…
Or not. My first attempt was to update the existing Fedora Core 2 installation, and that miserably failed. There were enough unresolvable dependencies to make me cry, and in the end the installer (YaST) refused to collaborate.
I suppose if I had started out with the need to upgrade, I would have had a lot of trouble. Fortunately, I could just go for plan B:
Once you start from scratch, OpenSuSE is the mature distribution you would have expected to see.
The installer had only one minor hitch, very specific to the wireless network card the Thinkpads have: it installed the kernel module, but not the firmware. I had to download that one manually from a different site. Once I installed that one, though, things went perfectly.
Everything was recognized appropriately – the graphics card even came up with the perfect resolution! The systems detected the modem, the sound card, the network cards, etc. just perfectly. Plugging in a media card (for the digital camera) was no issue, same as for the external hard drive or the external CD recorder. Good job!!!
I installed remote CUPS printers, and that was a headache. YaST is a bit twitchy about things, and if you hit Abort you don’t ever really know where you are going next. I had to re-install the printer several times until I finally got everything right.
Much better than Fedora! Just the fact alone that the installer doesn’t (sneakily) install Gnome as default and leaves the KDE option open – what a refreshing attitude!!! Of course, now I have to scramble to get all my other software installed (yes, Gnome has some wonderful software)…
YaST is the only holdout of the old days, when there first was only a German SuSE, and even later the manuals read like Babelfish had translated them. Now, OpenSuSE is just as international as Fedora, and the embarrassing German error messages don’t happen any more. What a relief (even to someone that is a native speaker of German)!
The only thing on which work is needed: PLEASE give us decent OpenSuSE repositories! Right now, if you want add-ons, you are still best off with Fedora.