back to article OpenSUSE 12.3: Proof not all Linux PCs are Um Bongo-grade bonkers

The openSUSE project is back on track. This week version 12.3 of the Linux operating system distribution was unleashed, right on time, as a free download. This will be seen as good news after the organisational restructuring and delays that plagued the release of openSUSE 12.2 last year. While 12.2 was delayed, it was worth the …

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Anonymous Coward

Why are the KDE desktop shortcuts penned in?

I like to run apps less than full-screen, and have instant access to other apps via shortcuts and useful files around the edges of my desktop. Why does KDE pen them into a small area? What was the thinking behind this?

(this isn't a troll or invitation to flame, I'm genuinely intrigued why this design decision was taken)

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Re: Why are the KDE desktop shortcuts penned in?

They don't, I just tried in KDE 4.9.5 and I can place them wherever I want in the screen, and then you can block them in place so you can't move them by accident

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Happy

Re: Why are the KDE desktop shortcuts penned in?

The 'penned' area is a plasma widget, same as any other, called a folder view. The background can contain as many folder view, or any other plasma widgets as you like.

I tend to have several pinned open on my desktop showing different folders, documents, downloads, dev root etc.

A single folder view could be expanded to fill the entire desktop, if you so chose, or to fill a small, vertical strip down one side of the window, with another folder down the other side.

The answer to your question is, thats the default look on startup, its totally modifiable, and very easy to do.

It actually appears that they would work very well for you :-)

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Re: Why are the KDE desktop shortcuts penned in?

It's been a while since I last looked at KDE (4.2?), but you could switch to a more conventional desktop style in KDE as well.

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Re: Why are the KDE desktop shortcuts penned in?

Yup, took me a few moments to work that out when I first saw it.

Once I'd figured out what was going on[1] and stopped fruitlessly trying to drag things to and from it, it became obvious that it's actually an astonishingly good idea.

[1] Other "KDE fun" moments include figuring out how to get the bit that shows all the running things back when an errant mouse swipe removes it from the bar at the bottom (it's a "task switcher panel" apparently - the hard bit's figuring out that that's the right one of the multifarious widgets on offer). I thoroughly recommend locking the widgets and such once you have it the way you want it.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Why are the KDE desktop shortcuts penned in?

(OP on this thread)

Thanks for all the replies.

I guess the real answer is : download a KDE distro and play with it :)

Cheers anyway

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"called a folder view."

Yes, I tend to have several on my desktop, regularly used program links in one and regularly used documents and network directories in another

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Thumb Up

I'm liking KDE more and more again - I'm triple booting Mint 14, kubuntu and W8 and I'm spending most of my time in KDE now - I like the speed and stability it offers over Cinnamon, for example.

And, if you're a part-time masochist, you can install the rather lovely "homerun" plamsa widget that provides a Unity Dashboard-alike application and file launcher that can be easily switched on and off from the taskbar.

Only used it for a brief moment - I'm a part-time, part-time masochist - but it's light, fast, pretty and intelligently designed, unlike, err, the alternative.

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Linux

There is always something about the way the font looks on Linux, it just does not seem as well done as Windows 7.

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That's usually down to the different fonts. Microsoft have invested heavily in producing optimal fonts for their shell and applications and this work pays off as the rendering of the fonts and the fonts themselves are designed to work together.

If you own a recent copy of Windows and run Linux (for instance, dual booting), then you should be able to copy the system display fonts from Windows to Linux, set the font preferences and see the difference these make for yourself.

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Trekrich,

The main reason was a patent so freetype had to be compiled in a none optimal way. (Think it has expired now though.)

There is other things that affect it like whether you EDID is right on your monitor. (Some DPI's work far better than others.)

I still think bitstream looks better (It is on Solaris 10 but not 11 instead of freetype).

The liberation or Android fonts are fairly good. (Personally I use terminus (Being easy on the eyes is more important to me than anything else)).

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Anonymous Coward

"always something about the way the font looks on Linux"

With the greatest respect, whilst your underlying comment about Linux fonts [sometimes] looking crap is valid, you may be making several mistakes following on...

1) Not all Linuxes look the same, because not all Linuxes are the same.

2) You're commenting about SuSe without apparently having installed it, maybe without using it.

3) If you'd installed it, you'd know that (at least since V8 while I've been installing and using) it offers you the chance to easily download and install the MS Truetype fonts (and, obviously, agree to the MS licence).

This is a comfortable, pragmatic, and appropriate solution to the genuine issue which you noted. You won't get this done neatly in a distro which chooses the "no non-free software, ever" policy, and nor do many other distros bother with making it as easy as suse did/does.

Have a lot of fun.

Nice article, btw.

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Boffin

Re: "always something about the way the font looks on Linux"

"If you'd installed it, you'd know that (at least since V8 while I've been installing and using) it offers you the chance to easily download and install the MS Truetype fonts (and, obviously, agree to the MS licence)."

Yes, MS core Web fonts help. I found that, on my particular hardware (GT520 card, AOC cheapo 1080p monitor), I had to install nvidia proprietary drivers as the nouveau driver does seem to produce fonts with 'fat' or 'thick' strokes. Otherwise, nouveau is entirely usable for my purposes.

I also had to switch on the subpixel rendering (Lizard | System Settings | Application Appearance | Fonts | Use anti-aliasing set to 'enabled' then click Configure and select appropriate combination for your monitor/card).

The result seems pretty close to Ubuntu with nvidia proprietary drivers to me. Running RC2 updated to current. May consider reinstalling from final DVD when the servers have cooled down a bit. KDE has certainly moved on since I last tried it out!

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Linux

Agreed, there are some hideous fonts by default on Linux. Thankfully, however, KDE will soon be switching by default to a new default Oxygen font which seems to address the issue as IMO is better than any other OS font:

http://code.newtypography.co.uk/oxygen-sans-0-2-3-in-progress/

It can't come soon enough!

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Boffin

Droid fonts

>"There is always something about the way the font looks on Linux"

Try the Droid font package - you'll be pleasantly surprised.

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Hmmm as a dyed in the wool Windows user I've always liked how fonts look on linux over Windows. Even on a VM in Windows they still look nice and smooth.

Windows 7 looks fine but 8 looks like the Cleartype has been switched off (even though it says its on).

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Bad UI decisions may be part of the problem

A couple of years ago I installed ubuntu on a VM. One of the first things I did was set the desktop background to be a light colour instead of the default (and doubtless cool) dark. There are good physiological reasons for this, I'll find a link if you're interested.

Problem was, the font for item descriptions on the desktop was light, to go well against the dark background, but I couldn't find a way of altering that (curiously, in windows if you set a light desktop, the font is automatically flipped to dark. Quite neat). I know there would be something somewhere to do it (xorg.conf?) but I have a life and wanted to keep it.

So I reverted the colour scheme but something looked right ropey about the fonts so I made them dead large (yep, could control size from UI but not colour) and then it was obvious. Some prat had decided to render them in some 3d effect. It looked pretty good large, it looked terrible small, but hell, it was so *cool*.

Linux UI designers are amateurs. Maybe things have improved.

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I get the feeling Win8 is trying to minimize UI computation. Do they think only ARM processors are going to exist in the future? It's just odd, because of those processors will eventually have some muscle. As one of the inventors of Cleartype, it's a bit annoying if they are abandoning it.

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Windows

"As one of the inventors of Cleartype..."

Eh? Did MS "invent" your arse too? Perhaps if their marketing department tell you they did, often enough, it'll become true?

An informed and contemporary account of this "invention" from Steve Gibson: http://www.grc.com/ctwho.htm

The only thing the Microsoft Corporation Inc "invented" about "Cleartype™" is the branding.

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Patches to fix that

If you don't mind recompiling the SRPM, try out these patches to make it look amazing:

http://www.infinality.net/blog/infinality-freetype-patches/

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Re: Bad UI decisions may be part of the problem

A couple of years ago you could have gone to System Settings, clicked on Application Appearance and then on the big thing marked "colours" and adjusted all of these things to your heart's content. Don't get me wrong, I'm sure there are arguments to be made for grouping the font colours with the typeface settings rather than putting all the colour options in a single place. It might seem logical depending on how you like to organise things.

Of course windows doesn't do it that way either as far as I can recall.

The only clear difference between KDE and Windows is that in windows you can access these settings by right-clicking on the desktop which is an advantage, I won't deny it. But it's easy to find these options in KDE. You'd have to be wilfully blind to miss them.

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Re: Bad UI decisions may be part of the problem @Graham Dawson

Perhaps I'm wrong but I looked through every option I could find, and spent a fair bit of time doing so. I found some options but they did not cover the desktop font colours - sizes, obviously yes, not colour. If they were that well hidden then there's definitely a UI problem.

However it was gnome not kde.

I just fired up a VM with mint (V12 I think, running cinnamon, so not so old) and had a dig around - still couldn't find anything. Quick google for 'cinnamon font colors', top 3 links say you have to edit some css in the .themes folder. The most specifiec one says:

"

You have to edit some code to do that.

Look for the gtk2.0 > [gtkrc] file in the Mint-X or Mint-Z folder (or whatever theme you're using right now).

Find the part that says "nselected_fg_color:#ffffff" and change it to a hexadecimal value (a color of your choice translated into hex code).

"

I can do that continue to thrash through other stupidities, or I can stick with what I know and get some work done (not that windows is looking too clever these days).

So, have I missed something?

I notice the desktop fonts still appear to be rendered in poxy 3d, and the ui is still designed by cool people, not those with actual UI credentials.

I say 'appear to be rendered' because I can't change the size to check, like I did before. Odd. So I google that just now and I get <http://forums.linuxmint.com/viewtopic.php?f=208&t=102851>:

"

In Cinnamon 1.4 and Mint 12, I was sure that the desktop font was changeable in the Cinnamon settings font dialog. In Maya, it doesn't seem to work. I had to install dconf-tools and edit the nautilus desktop font settings there. Was I dreaming that I was able to change it in Cinnamon/Lisa?

"

Turns out you need to use dconf. Can't find it. A quick google (do you see a pattern emerging here?) tells me that I need to sudo apt-get install dconf-tools (do you see another pattern here?).

I recently tried xfce. I almost liked it. Unfortunately there was some really infuriating mouse behaviour - you could alter the speed (I like it fast) but I could find no way of disabling the mouse acceleration (move slow and the mouse almost comes to a stop. Supposed to improve accuracy, just means I continually undershoot).

I give up on linux desktops. I have work to do.

Thanks for your feedback BTW, I've been multiply downvoted for that post but you're the only one who's actually explained why they thought I was wrong.

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Re: Bad UI decisions may be part of the problem @Graham Dawson

"However it was gnome not kde."

There lies your problem.

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Anonymous Coward

You get what you pay for. Decent fonts are licensable and cost money...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: "As one of the inventors of Cleartype..."

Microsoft might not have been first with Sub Pixel rendering, but what Cleartype does with it is novel, clever and is covered by no less than 10 patents. The Apple sub pixel rendering patent is listed as prior art in the Microsoft patent applications.

Unfortunately, as usual Mr Gibson doesn't know what he is talking about: http://david.freetype.org/cleartype-patents.html

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Re: "As one of the inventors of Cleartype..."

Subpixel rendering is now back in freetype again. However, it still doesn't look as good as it could by default. As others have mentioned, the remaining Infinality tweaks do improve things a bit.

You can find Infinality-patched freetype on the Open Build Service at software.opensuse.org under the freetype-infinality package. However, from what I read, the most authoritative repo may be at: http://download.opensuse.org/repositories/home:/namtrac:/subpixel/.

Personally, I then run the scripts included with infinality in /etc/fonts/infinality and set the rendering type to the Windows 7 style, and it looks great along with the kde-oxygen-fonts, webcore-fonts, webcore-fonts-vista, and google-droid-fonts packages.

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Opensuse is by and large a much better distro than Ubuntu. (And less bleeding edge than Fedora they don't put stuff they need testing into Opensuse in the same way).

(It also probably the best distro to run Xen dom0 from - They seem to have some real experience in it. And don't have change for its own sake that breaks stuff like Debian).

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OpenSUSE does is way behind Ubuntu/Debian in terms of packages and default package setups. I've used both extensively.

'And don't have change for its own sake that breaks stuff like Debian' What, exactly, has been broken in Debian?

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Is this some new Microshill tactic?

Is this some new Microshill tactic? To promote SUSE/SLES which is easily to worst distro compared to Ubuntu, Debian, Red Hat.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Is this some new Microshill tactic?

Downvoted simply because no one should say "xxx is worse than yyy" without saying what their evidence is for this belief.

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Re: Is this some new Microshill tactic?

OK - evidence then RE the difference between SUSE and Debian...

And remember - in production environments we may be looking after dozens of servers - so ease of use is exponentially important. You might have time to faff for days if you only have your one machine - take as long as you like. In a production environment we need to have servers fully set up, hardened, backed up, documented and production ready within hours.

Want to install Apache ITK - which is a brilliant version of Apache which runs vhosts as assigned users (usually the FTP account)

On SUSE - you're into recompiling Apache. OpenSUSE there is nothing in the repositories. There are a couple of iffy looking RPM's around - best of luck with that.

On Debian - apt-get install apache2-mpm-itk

Want to install etckeeper - a really useful, simple utility for keeping an eye on /etc

SUSE/SLES - not available in the repositories. And a really tricky tool to set up by yourself in a secure way.

Debian - apt-get install etckeeper

Enbling PHP 5.3

On SLES PHP5.3 is available in the repositories. However, if you use it then YAST gets broken because everytime you add a vhost and restart Apache the PHP module gets disabled. You have to MANUALLY add it back to 'APACHE_MODULES' in '/etc/sysconfig/apache2' and restart Apache.

On Debian apt-get install php5 libapache2-mod-php5

Setting up an Apache vhost as default.

On SUSE/SLES if you set a vhost to be a default host Yast breaks the Apache setup in strange ways - the workaround we used was to set up a vhost on the address aaaaaaaa.xxx.xxx.xxx and set the doc root to /srv/www/htdocs.

On Debian you just set the ServerAlias.

Setting up xdebug.

On SUSE - you're back to recompiling source code.

On Debian - apt-get install php5-xdebug

Fail2ban

On SUSE you might be able to use an external repository and then set it up yourself.

On Debian - apt-get install fail2ban - and it is installed with sensible defaults.

PhpMyAdmin

On SUSE/SLES you need to download the source code, set up hosting space, install, setup etc etc.

All do-able - but if you have to do it on twelve machines before lunchtime well... good luck with that.

On Debian - apt-get install phpmyadmin.

I could go on - but I think you should have the picture by now.

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Linux

Re: Is this some new Microshill tactic?

This article is about openSUSE-12.3 and has nothin to do with SLES or SLED. The SuSE/openSuSE equivalent of apt is zypper, which is what would be used by an admin. YaST is a graphical interface, used by desktop users.

etckeeper has not reached version 1 yet. However it is available from the Open Build Service for 1-click install. Php5.3, PhpMyAdmin, and Fail2Ban are all part of the openSUSE-12.3 distribution, and can either be selected at installation, or added with e.g. zypper install phpMyAdmin, or if you prefer

phpPgAdmin.

I think bailey86 needs to get the facts and lose the FUD. Is he/she a MS undercover agent?

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Re: Is this some new Microshill tactic?

I stand corrected on a few points here - I've reviewed my notes RE OpenSUSE and a couple of the packages were available in the default repositories - others were available by adding extra repositories. My memories were mostly from SLES. BTW - the OpenSUSE version I worked with was 12.1.

As mentioned, OpenSUSE did need to have extra repositories added for a couple of those packages - and the default setups were not as smooth as Debian - but overall it wasn't too bad. As I said - it's the bad experiences with SLES which coloured my thinking.

(The place I was working had SLES servers due to a maintenance contract and so I had to switch to SLES).

BTW - I was originally responding to the comment about Debian breaking stuff - as a server OS I think Debian is difficult to beat. Re-reading that point it seems to be referring to only Xen breaking. Not having experience of Xen I'll can't comment on that point. So I eneded up trying to make the point that SLES is not very good currently - as you say - SLES/SLED are not OpenSUSE.

And this is a point - should OpenSUSE be used for a server OS? Should OpenSUSE be thought of separately from SLED/SLES? Considering the state of SLES should OpenSUSE be promoted as a server OS on its own?

My understanding was that OpenSUSE should be thought of as the Fedora version of SLES/SLED - so, free, but not enterprise level. Maybe it's time for openSUSE to release different versions - testing, stable etc and to leave SLES behind. It's the experience with SLES which colours people's (including my) thinking about SUSE in general.

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Anonymous Coward

Just for anyone else who might be wondering (rather than Bailey who, judging by his posts below, is either a troll and/or an idiot, and therefore not worth wasting time with), the "change for its own sake" comment refers to Debian devs fondness for patching perfectly good functionality out of common applications and/or changing the way they work because of some philosophical sense of purity.

An example that particularly pissed me off was their patching out of Bash the /dev/tcp/ and /dev/udp pseudo-redirects. While I understand the Debian devs point of view, I consider they should have battled it out upstream with the Bash guys, rather than going their own way and breaking scripts and stuff that relied on that functionality.

I have nothing at all against Debian, I appreciate the effort those guys do, and I collaborate with some of them, but I gradually moved out of it precisely because of this sort of "surprises".

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Is this some new Microshill tactic?

Okay, I'll give you that Debian (and especially deb/apt) is great. But saying that Ubuntu and RHEL of all things is better? I spy a troll...

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Dear oh dear... aaaaannnnyway.

As mentioned in another post I made - I responded incorrectly to a post which said OpenSUSE was better than Debian because Debian kept breaking things. This referred to only to Xen being better run on OpenSUSE - which may be the case - I have no real experience of running Xen.

I then gave a list of problems I'd had with SLES which I'd mixed up with my experience of OpenSUSE. As someone pointed out, OpenSUSE had most of the required tools available as packages (some from external repositories).

So I'm raising a new point here.

It seems to me that OpenSUSE is now a better server OS than SLES - which considering how much Novell charge for SLES support is a bit surprising. So, should OpenSUSE be used as the server OS and not SLES? Which brings up another point - if OpenSUSE is to be used as a server OS then where should testing be carried out? Should OpenSUSE have testing/stable branches etc.

BTW AC 18:32 - you see - this is a discussion where we raise points, correct each other, recount experience, fire off ideas etc. Abuse is not needed - it's just immature.

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should OpenSUSE be used for a server OS -- @bailey86

My understanding was that OpenSUSE should be thought of as the Fedora version of ...

Your understanding is so wrong. Fedora is Red Hat's bleeding edge, experimental release. It is to the credit of the underlying 'NIX philosophy that it manages to be at least as resilient and stable as MS's "enterprise ready" releases. Open SUSE is really the descendent of SuSE Professional, and is more staid than Fedora or any of the 'Buntus. It is eminently suited for the workplace, and has its long term support (Evergreen) versions. The installation process has always provided a choice of desktop and server configurations. Unlike Ubuntu et al, who try to take on MS with bling and "user-friendliness", openSUSE's tradition is one of FOSS, stability, and security at the expense of appeal to hobbyist or casual users. SLED and SLES's ancestry is really as Novell's attempt to use GNU/Linux as a replacement for NetWare.

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Should OpenSUSE have testing/stable branches -- bailey86

The experimental/testing branch of openSUSE is called "Factory". Also prior to version releases ther are months of Milestone, Beta and Release Candidates made available for testing and debugging. As stated before there are "Evergreen" long-term support versions. The latest release even includes the KDE-3.5.10 desktop for those that prefer it.

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HTF

Re: Is this some new Microshill tactic?

I find it odd you choose Debian as your example, take a look at the Debian 6 repos, there a lot of "out of date" packages even older than those in SUSE. This is because like SUSE they favour stability over bleed edge features. This is not a bad thing but a good thing. They make sure bugs don't get introduced, Ubuntu has this problem all the time because they update their packages too quickly without testing fully for bugs etc.

Also binary repos are not something to judge a distro on. Any linux server admin worth his salt has no problem compiling from source and wouldn't touch the slow mess that is Apache with a barge pole anyway.

Plus just to call you out on being simply incorrect on 99% of your points, Apache ITK is in the SUSE repos, so is fail2ban, so is phpmyadin and the php5 stuff works fine through Yast.

The only thing you mentioned that isn't a one click install is xdebug and you should NEVER run this on a production server anyway, you should run it on your development server so you can profile and debug but it will GREATLY slow down php on a production server.

So before ranting about how a distro sucks, USE IT FIRST, new versions come with updated repos so moaning about things not being included without first checking the repos is simply moronic.

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Re: Is this some new Microshill tactic?

Of course we can compile Apache from source, download and setup PhpPgAdmin, manually set up etckeeper, etc. OK if you have only one machine - not so good if you have dozens. If you have to set up six dev servers before lunchtime I think you'd prefer all the tools to be in the repository. And what about future updates? So, for enterprise level I would say that packages being available in the repositories is fairly crucial.

As mentioned - I'd confused my experience RE OpenSUSE with SLES. After reviewing my notes I conceeded that OpenSUSE had most stuff available in the repositories - some external repositories needed to be added - but no probs.

I'll agree that for a web server I'd rather run a hand compiled Nginx on BSD. But the devs tend to be the ones who manage their dev/testing/beta/deployment/live copies and they would not want to wait for a sysadmin every time they want a quick vhost set up to test something - also, I don't want to spend all my time setting up vhosts.

I think that its better to give them the LAMP stack they want and look after it for them - Apache is good enough for most uses. On high load stuff you could use Nginx as a reverse proxy.

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FAIL

Re: Is this some new Microshill tactic?

suse have suse studio, I use it to set up rpms for redhat because my big do it all rpm of our commercial app spec file just fails on RHEL6. After making the spec file through suse studio, it worked. So I develop all my company commercial code in open suse, then when it is finished I verify the code with suse studio and build for centos5/6. Very nice piece of software.

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Facepalm

Re: Is this some new Microshill tactic?

So @bailey86 accuses the article of being written by a Microsoft shill because it praises a distro that he/she considers one of the worst of the bunch, and then @vagabondo accuses @bailey86 of being a Microsoft shill for criticising OpenSUSE.

I wonder if you people can hear yourselves.

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Re: should OpenSUSE be used for a server OS -- @bailey86

@vagabondo Very well said.

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Anonymous Coward

"BTW AC 18:32 - you see - this is a discussion where we raise points, correct each other, recount experience, fire off ideas etc. Abuse is not needed - it's just immature."

Yes, I see how you "discuss and raise points": http://forums.theregister.co.uk/forum/containing/1763288

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Re: Is this some new Microshill tactic?

So @bailey86 accuses the article of being written by a Microsoft shill because it praises a distro that he/she considers one of the worst of the bunch, and then @vagabondo accuses @bailey86 of being a Microsoft shill for criticising OpenSUSE.

Indeed. And the Reg continues to refuse to enforce its own rule prohibiting accusations of shilling. Perhaps one wonderful day they shall. In the meantime, assorted idiot commentators, kindly stop it. Calling someone a shill is among the most feeble, tired, and tiresome of insults here. It only demonstrates your own inability to think critically or advance a meaningful argument.

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FAIL

Nice upgrade but.......

The wankers at AMD decided that HD4XXX or below is now legacy and we are going to give fuck all support on a chipset that they were flogging only a year or so ago. So no Xserver 1.13 (1.12max) for you matey and you are stuck with the cracker barrel radeon driver instead of FLGRX. Luckily this only affects my laptop as I have Nvidia on other machines because their Linux support is brilliant.

The fail is for AMD, it's a thumbs up for the for the Suse folks 12.3 release

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