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(?) Experience Installing SuSE Linux 8.0

From Edgar Howell

Answered By

Linux ready for the desktop? -- SuSE seems to think so.
On 13 April I installed SuSE Linux 8.0 (2.4.18-4GB) on a notebook. Ignoring one glitch (a pcmcia module, but notebooks are notorious for difficult installs) and my disinclination towards gui-anything, it was the easiest installation of an operating system I have ever experienced -- other than Coherent and DOS.
Not having a PC available with sufficient resources for recent releases of Linux, the now 2-year-old Toshiba Satellite 2180 CDT became the target. In theory all data on it was backed up to the PC but "just in case" /home and a bit more got tar'd and copied to the PC "for a while". So it wasn't an update but a clean install.
Probably I installed at least 4 times. But then 2 is normal: the first time around suprises don't always get proper responses, the second time is for real. However, there was something about the pcmcia module that hung the install as the system was coming up for the first time. No disk activity but the fan's coming on said the poor AMD was sweating heavily.
Once I believed that -- and by then I had learned that the default office install includes Star Office (which I used to like but would rather replace since it shows its origins too much) -- I chose the standard install without office stuff and before turning it loose removed the pcmcia module from the list of packages to install. After that it was like ho, hum...
The following is my protocol of installation, prompts indented (if the terminology differs from what SuSE actually uses stateside, that's due to my translation from German):
                boot CD 1 - menu
                menu - new/update/start
        new installation
                installation settings
                start installation?
                root password
                add new user
        SVGA 800x600@60HZ
                CRT settings
        graphic (settings OK)
                network interfaces and modems not detected
                command line login
        shutdown -h now
This took barely 24 minutes, most of which involved installing software. And I have omitted what was done to avoid installing the troublesome pcmcia module (which wouldn't be necessary on a PC).
What really blew me away is that under the monitor options "LCD" was right there and as model one could choose "SVGA 800x600@60HZ"! Yeah, I still checked with sax. The horizontal and vertical frequencies were right. Afterwards I spent several hours playing with the notebook. It even powers off when you shutdown!
Of course it was also neat that the partitions were recognized correctly (yeah, I know, a "clean install", but I've always used Partition Magic) and when all was said and done Win98 was still there, although there would have been no tears shed. Interesting was what can only be described as a gui-LILO: boot and you get about 5 or 10 seconds to make a choice on a graphics screen.
I'm not unbiased. I've been with SuSE since their 5.1. This was the first time using yast2, the graphic install, since they no longer have yast1. I wasn't aware of any possibility of driving yast1 with a script but would have much prefered that, to make it easy to do an identical install on several machines. But then my past includes IBM sysgens with decks of cards. What irritates me about gui-installs is the infinity of questions that need to be answered -- every single time. At least until this SuSE release.
Well, on a PC with adequate resources the yast2 install should go really slick. And like it or not that really is the yardstick nowadays and should go well with the desktop crowd.
Until now I have felt that even frustrated Windows users should stick with what they know unless they are seriously interested in how real operating systems function. In my opinion this release definitely is ready for prime time.

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Published in issue 78 of Linux Gazette May 2002
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