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back to article OpenSUSE 13.1: Oh look, a Linux with YOU in mind (and 64-bit ARMs)

Linux distro OpenSUSE 13.1 is a modest but important update that concentrates on stability and overall polish. There are quite a few new features - like the rewritten system configuration utility YaST, new developer tools even a new version of OpenSUSE for Raspberry Pi - but 13.1 is really focused on building a rock-solid Linux …

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Polished KDE implementation

OpenSuse's implementation of KDE has always seemed that bit more polished. Compared to Kubuntu 13.10 KDE seems a but snappier and the base system more stable... i.e the original release of Kubuntu 13.10 broke on UEFI installs - without an internet connection (to get updates) even now you cannot install Kubuntu 13.10 in UEFI mode (unless you chroot into the system and fix it..)

KDE I have thought for a long time is the nicest desktop for any OS - MS 'borrowed' a lot of early KDE 4.x features for Vista/Windows7. Windows 8 seems to be a Unity/Gnome3 clone (worst of both worlds)

KDE4.11 has so many nice little usability features the most you use it the more you will never think of bothering to try and work with Unity/Gnome3

p.s you can install the Nvidia drivers now 'the hard way' - i.e via the binary from Nvidia.com (like those windows barbarians have always had to - rather than use your package manager - like the master race are used to). One good thing about using the binary is that you will always have the latest version (unlike the opensuse/debian/ubuntu repo versions)

http://en.opensuse.org/SDB:NVIDIA_the_hard_way

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Re: Polished KDE implementation

I agree on using "Nvidia the hard way" to get the drivers for openSUSE 13.1 until the repository is up. I posted the following info to help choose which Nvidia drivers yesterday on Distrowatch -

Some openSUSE users have reported on Nvidia drivers that are working with openSUSE 13.1:

openSUSE user @conram said: "The nvidia driver version that works with 13.1 are the 331.20 and 304.1160. These drivers were release last November 6, 2013. I just upgraded my old laptop with GeForce 8200M G from 12.3 to 13.1 with the driver already in my home partition. and install it after finishing the update in runlevel 3."

http://forums.opensuse.org/english/get-technical-help-here/install-boot-login/492620-nvidia-drivers-installation-12-3-13-1-upgrade-problem.html

The openSUSE ftp site is not populated with Nvidia drivers for 13.1 yet, but some users report the drivers will show up "soon". In the meantime, user @wolfi323 is directing people to the Nvidia Unix Drivers site: http://www.nvidia.com/object/unix.html

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"GNOME works seamlessly on OpenSuSE 13.1 (click to enlarge images)"

That's an odd caption to have with a KDE screenshot!

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Exactly my thoughts. I was puzzled as to why GNOME looks suspiciously like KDE for a split second, then realized that it was KDE that I was looking at.

Honestly, the day I'd go back to GNOME is the day the devs put back all the features they removed and reinstated the start menu. What's with these people and the vapid "start screen" interface? At least KDE has different interfaces for touch devices and desktops.

But honestly, I'll stick to XFCE. At least it doesn't drain on the GPUs like KDE or GNOME that allows that few extra frames per second out of games on Steam.

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I havw really like SuSE. In 1997 I moved from Redhat 7.1 (now some sort of hat) to SuSe based on screenshots of KDE 1 on a front cover of a LINUX/PC mag. Never looked back until last year. Recently with my interest in ARM, particularly the Raspberry PI I have moved to Debian 7 (desktop) and Rasbpian. I have a Windows 8 gaming laptop ready fro elite dangersous - but that is a Wheezy Vm bootstrap other rhab games.

I am on the opensuse ARM mailing list - obviously I delete more than I read, butnot sure that Raspberry PI is in favour with the opensuse developers. Having said that please flame and prove me wrong - love to go back to a zypper package manager :-)

Simon

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You've either got your dates or your Redhat version wrong there... I suspect both, actually! In those ancient days the only practical way for me to get as huge a set of software as a distro was on CD and I remember being delighted when SuSE made it onto the cover of a UK magazine. Possibly the same one you're on about, though this was 1998.

I still occasionally use OpenSuSE when I want a generic "kitchen sink" distro with plenty of quick access to a wide range of packages and it even came on a netbook I bought a few years ago - I ditched the dreadful install almost right away but it makes a nice change having a SuSE sticker in place of the usual MS one!

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Anonymous Coward

That would have been SuSE 5.2 on the cover of PC Plus if memory serves me correct. I "think" that it was Red Hat 4.1. PC Plus also had tha as a cover disk around about the same time. I remember trying both and coming down in favour of SuSE. I didn't like the DE's or the available software. TBH I still don't. I ran SuSE as a file server until I moved in with the SWMBO. I gave up on Windows 12 years ago but moved to OS X rather then Linux and have never looked back. On the server side of things I saw the light and moved over to Debian

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I've used openSuse as my primary desktop (and laptop) since openSuse 11.0, had a couple of problems early on, but has been rock solid for years. I will admit to being slightly underwhelmed when I installed 13.1, looked exactly the same, then I noticed the increase in speed, quite a bit faster.

I have to use windows 7 for my work environment and running that in Virtualbox has been as easy as pie.

Great distribution, I'd recommend it to anyone, both for Desktop and Laptop

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Hi Gary,

I use Debian in VMware (gives Gnome3 fallback mode) . I tried OpenSuse 12.3 - struggled and failed to X under aynthing but a small window (guessing 640x480). Is it easier with Opensuse in Virtualbox?

Thanks for any tips

Simon

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Virtualbox

Is a good tool, but to bet the best out of it you need t add the extpack (otherwise only USB1.1 will work) and Box once installed you need to add the Virtual Tools on the distro, should have all resolution screens then.

But I use windows in OpenSuse, not OpenSuse in Windows.

I still think it's a great distro ( and 12.3 was one I had problems with)

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Super Distro

Keep it up lads !

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Although I flirt with others, it is always SuSE that I come back to

After using RedHat as a plaything in the late 1990s, I bought (yes, bought, on CD, in a box) SuSE 6.3. There have been a few bumpy patches along the way, and I will install and try just about every distro going, but for me it has always been SuSE/SUSE that gets the work done and looks better than most, and I have been using S[uU]SE more or less continuously now for 15 years.

Being a fickle sort, I presently have a dual-boot machine as my main workstation with Mint 16RC and SUSE 13.1. They use the same /home partition, and do not interfere with one another at all. If I want a change, or a package that has not made it into one of the SUSE repos, then Mint is there waiting, but SUSE is running most of the time.

I can certainly see the advantages of being in the Debian environment, because of the sheer number of packages ready for installation. I really cannot see the attraction of desktop Ubuntu, with its bad joke UI and outrageous lack of privacy. Mint is just fine, but a bit dull to my mind. (I actually run Ubuntu LTS as a server without GUI, but that is another unhappy story altogether, that I am stuck with for now.)

Lots of people knock YaST. I think that they are people who have not used it. I does the routine things, like user management, partitioning, and installing software as well as many other tools on other distros, although even for simple tasks, it presents them in a much more unified control centre that can launch the YaST components than any other distro I am aware of. Where it excels is in the way it handles much more tricky stuff such as configuration of daemons and bootloaders, setting up network services such as NFS and Samba imports and exports, and editing /etc/sysconfig. OK, it does not do anything that vi cannot, but it can do so many things much more quickly and easily than vi, with much less chance of going wrong. Saving time and effort is something that should be really valued, and YaST should, IMO, be given a lot of credit for doing this.

People also still think that KDE is the beta test that was 4.0. It certainly is not! It is probably one of the sanest desktops out there, especially for converts from Windows or MacOS. It is now rock steady and fast (regularly beating Unity hands down in performance benchmarks). I have not had KDE crash or seize up in years. Get your head around Akonadi, and you might get to like it, especially if you have many email accounts. Otherwise, just use Thunderbird.

This is a distro that deserves more credit than it ever receives!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Although I flirt with others, it is always SuSE that I come back to

+1. Been there done that, even bought the box (because it came with **manuals** that actually applied to the version of software you were using - in this case, Suse Office Desktop and Suse 8, iirc, though my Linux goes as far back as RH4 at work).

I'm even considering using Suse (probably 13.1 but 12.3 seems decent too) with a retired neighbour who is looking to acquire her first PC skills next year (she'll have no Windows baggage to unlearn). And maybe I'll introduce it to a couple of others whose WinXP will, like everyone else's outside the XP Embedded circle, allegedly be end of support next year.

Edit: Oh, it runs on Raspberry Pi now too. Well that's my Christmas present to me sorted:

https://dragotin.wordpress.com/2013/11/19/opensuse-on-raspberrypi-with-owncloud/

"This is a distro that deserves more credit than it ever receives!"

Never understood why it gets so little publicity. It just gets on with the job at hand.

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Re: Although I flirt with others, it is always SuSE that I come back to

"This is a distro that deserves more credit than it ever receives!"

Ditto

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Anonymous Coward

I want to quit my addiction to Microsoft products...

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2013/11/27/microsoft_encryption_nsa_spying/

I want to quit my addiction to all Microsoft products... Regarding OpenSUSE 13.1, can someone offer a quick list of Pros and Cons of switching? Can I keep legacy Office, is there a built in VM for that? cheers

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Re: I want to quit my addiction to Microsoft products...

Ir comes with Libra Office which should handle most legacy MS Office docs. You maybe able to run older versions of MSOffice in wine and there is always VirtualBox to run Windows if you really need it.

Pros are that you are free of lock in openSUSE the full OS stack is open source. It is not a huge deal to move to Ubuntu or any other Linux disto if you want to. It is much easier to maintain then Windows and you really don't need to worry much about malware unless you deliberately install it. KDE has so many bells and whistles you can activate you can get carried away with eye candy

Cons are that Linux is not Windows so you will have to learn some stuff. But the basic KDE desktop will be vary familiar. Also Linux file system are not Windows file systems. you have to lurn about partition and mounting not drives and drive letters. Some hardware may have a difficult time with the install and initial set up but the openSUSE forms are great to solve problems

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Re: I want to quit my addiction to Microsoft products...

Truth is if you can find your way around Windows, you'll be fine in any of the common Linux variants - Ubuntu, Mint, SUSE... the basic idea of desktop + toolbar + menus is common to all. And any major distro will be 99% sure to just work out of the box.

Try it out via a live USB drive or CD first - nothing is installed and you can play to your heart's content.

Regarding MS Office - yes, older versions will run under Wine, and I did that for a while.

In practice I get by just fine with LibreOffice and tend to send most things out as PDFs, which LO generates utterly painlessly. Again, if you know MS Office, LibreOffice is similar enough to be an easy learn.

The one program that I do need to run in Windows is our accounting package - it just won't work under Wine.

So for that, and an older version of Photoshop that gets used maybe once a month, I run VirtualBox. Once Windows has been installed inside that it runs just fine on my not too recent machine, and both of these programs run just fine. For my money it's much easier than Wine.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I want to quit my addiction to Microsoft products...

Thanks James Loughner and Barry Rueger.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: "Cons ... Linux is not Windows so you will have to learn some stuff"

"Cons are that Linux is not Windows so you will have to learn some stuff"

Nice writeup, apart from that silly sentence.

Windows 7 is not Windows XP is not Windows NT, ditto Office Now vs Office Then.

"people will have to learn some stuff" isn't exclusive to Linux nor is it exclusive to the Linux-replacing-Windows transitions. To claim otherwise, that is a con on inexperienced readers.

Sometimes things change lots, sometimes they don't. Sometimes vendors dictate the pace (and costs) of change, sometimes they don't.

The fact is that for those on the IT/MS perpetual upgrade pay-rollout-retrain-pain wheel, the better alternatives get better every year. And Suse 13.1 will hopefully continue that process. It's good to be able to have real choice.

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Re: I want to quit my addiction to Microsoft products...

Cons is that the supposed "support" forum is full of the most condescending and bitter forum users on the planet. and that's just the admins. Regular users can be quite nice but sometimes they're a bit afraid to interrupt a bullying to offer a suggestion.

You can make a thread, get it answered, and even after that you've an admin talking about how he could've solved that problem when he was like 3, I've used opensuse for years and it's the same every time.

Luckily it's such a nice distro my visits to the forum are rare, and usually nvidia-related..

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Re: I want to quit my addiction to Microsoft products...

It is very unpredictable what will work with Wine and what not. As an example, Lego Digital Designer works out of the box, no tweaks needed, while League of Legends requires ungodly amounts of hacking to work half decently. One is a game and the other is more like a desktop application, so this is somewhat expected.

Wine will always play catch-up with the latest Windows versions, but you'll be surprised how many Windows apps works well with it.

But the greatest thing about Wine is that you can install each app on its own "Windows" folder, and avoid all the dependency conflicts you'd have to deal with if you ran everything in a single VM. Of course, you could always bring up additional VMs and Windows installs per application, but that will be an increased license, disk and machine resource cost.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I want to quit my addiction to Microsoft products...

"I want to quit my addiction".........Thanks for all the replies....

Question:

How about on the development side, is there an equivalent of Visual studio for app development?

BTW: I learned Cpm Sci via Unix at college (BSD / Next) and fiddled with Minix on the side, so partitioning and mounting drives etc, should all come back to me.... I'll google for the USB install, although if someone has an easy link to easy steps to get the distro on a USB I'd appreciate it...

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Re: I want to quit my addiction to Microsoft products...

"someone has an easy link to easy steps to get the distro on a USB I'd appreciate it..."

http://en.opensuse.org/Live_USB_stick

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Re: I want to quit my addiction to Microsoft products...

How about on the development side, is there an equivalent of Visual studio for app development?

My preference is for NetBeans. It took me a long time to switch from using juts a text editor and terminal, but I now do all my personal coding in NetBeans (for work I'm forced to use Eclipse, which I find very clunky in comparison). Despite starting life as an IDE for Java, NetBeans now offers excellent support for development in a number of languages, so I use it for a mix of Java, Android and C/C++ stuff.

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Re: I want to quit my addiction to Microsoft products...

There's MonoDevelop for C#, and tons of C++/Java IDEs+undoubtedly many more or less exotic variants like an ADA IDE+compiler...

Myself, I'm partial to Lazarus (cross-platform IDE that uses Object Pascal, sort of like an open source Delphi). I rather easily write hobby applications for Linux, Windows and OSX.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I want to quit my addiction to Microsoft products...

Thanks again for all the Linux info guys! Most most helpful! Sometimes one needs a push to get started, and this was mine!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I want to quit my addiction to Microsoft products...

+1 for NetBeans, I always flirt with Eclipse, it has some nice goodies that work better than NetBeans, but NetBeans is much more easier to setup and manage.

YMMV, especially if you need something that only has Eclipse support.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I want to quit my addiction to Microsoft dev products...

Any opinions on Qt for C/C++? I'm wondering if, like Suse, maybe it just gets on with it and never gets any publicity?

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Re: I want to quit my addiction to Microsoft dev products...

Qt is a bit of an odd one. Development with it involves using a pre-processor for the event stuff, and it has its own equivalent for things like the STL, so it's much more than just a GUI toolkit. To be fair, the reasoning behind the alternative to the STL is sound, since the Qt equivalent is much better designed and pleasant to use. The portable libraries for other features are quite nice as well.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I want to quit my addiction to Microsoft dev products...

> Any opinions on Qt for C/C++?

Yup. Best toolkit I have ever used. Makes C++ actually approachable. Well documented, solid, extensible, and it keeps up with the times (see all the work on mobile stuff).

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Anonymous Coward

My biggest problem with OpenSUSE 13.1 is... OpenSUSE 12.3

Seriously, you know how hard is to break long standing relationships, but in my case breaking with Kubuntu was very, very easy. Almost everything (and"almost" in a "everything but a single thing", see below) in 12.3 worked out of the box. Haven't missed any of the gazillion packages I used in my previous OS, and some of them got a much needed upgrade (coming from an LTS version, that's something you learn the hard way after a couple of *Ubuntu upgrades)

So no hurries to upgrade from my part, I'll wait for the nVidia package to appear and then proceed to upgrade the 3 machines running it.

Highly recommended: OpenSuse is "leading without bleeding" edge, polished (at least if you're a KDE citizen, cannot speak for other DEs) and rock solid. Now, if someone has fixed the udev rules so that iPads are recognized without tweaking, I'd reconsider not waiting for the nVidia package...

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Linux

A word about BTRFS

Looks like it is the making of a good file system. But there are some caveats . As shipped the snapshot feature is on so backup snaps are taken hourly. Thus you need to allow extra space. how much is still a question, and depends on you usage, but you should allow at least 2X the space you plan to use to be safe. Snapshots can be turned off and there are other adjustment that can be made but it is on by default. Also the space used does not yet show up in the standard Linux tools so you can be surprised to run out of space when the normal tools show plenty.

Just a word of warning

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Linux

Re: A word about BTRFS

thanks for the heads up (seem my comment below for a cryptlocker shield)!

The whole disk space thing kinda gets out of control but a tip I have found is read vs read/write many.

Home directory is read/write, but your music is probably not. So paritition that way. I know my media partition is at least 10X my user!

But I believe snapshots only occupy space if files change? That is how it worked under DFS...

P.

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What about SLES?

I'd to ask those who know - how does OpenSUSE compare to SLES?

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Linux

Re: What about SLES?

from what I have seen (they use SLES on some supercomputers...) it has a number of locked down features so that it stays stable. Older but patched versions of some stuff, and a SLES admin interface that is quite advanced, but I do not recall what is unique as some of it I have seen in 12.3+.

The thing about SuSE if you are a user, is that it typically just works. There is an EXCELLENT build studio they provide which means you can build for any platform if you want to play building without filling your system up with unecessary tools. But it does mean many packages not originally for Suse appear on it, and so via software.opensuse.org

It seems more or less compatible with Redhat not just because it uses RPMs (there is a tool called alien which can make you agnostic), but because it follows the same conventions.

I think all Linux's now have the systemd stuff, which if you are a user should be invisible.

But for all this I am still running 12.2!! Why? Because this machine has a buggy HD and weird network card that the new (12.3) suse did not have functioning.. It took me 6 weeks to workout that the HD was going to sleep and taking the rootfs with it!

If you like Gnome or KDE you can get either flavour.

If you are a windoze refugee wine is pretty good, but crossover is excellent - IF they support your need tools... Also it makes your windoze applications portable within linux. Once they work, chances are they will keep working.

They have taken the plunge with BTRFS too! BTRFS offers copy on write facilities. If boot Windoze on a VM, make linux export a samba FS using BTRFS and copy on write underneath, and you'll have a much saner environment... Cryptolocker would be little problem in this scenarios (so long as the data that mattered was on BTRFS...). Just saying....

P.

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Vic
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Re: What about SLES?

> (there is a tool called alien which can make you agnostic)

Beware that alien doesn't convert dependencies...

Vic.

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re 12.3

Yast is great. No need to hunt around for the name of the config utility you need.

Also, Steam in the games repo, mythtv is on pacman and VMware seems to play nice too. if you need that.

Looking forward to the upgrade to 13.1

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Anonymous Coward

Re: re 12.3

> Yast is great. No need to hunt around for the name of the config utility you need.

Don't even need to start YaST. Just go Alt+F2 then type something related to what you may be wanting, (e.g., "users" to configure user accounts, "printer" to configure a new printer, ...)

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I was quite looking forward to trying 13.1, but there's a bug where menus and windows aren't drawn correctly, and show up temporarily when you mouse over, then disappear again. There were a few others reporting the same thing on the openSUSE forum, but the fixes given there didn't work. Possibly it's down to having an Nvidia card (7900GS) and might be fixed with a driver install, but I've not had time yet to try.

12.3 is still working OK so there's no hurry to upgrade.

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I love SUSE

I have been using SUSE, and then OpenSUSE since version 8. It has always worked without a hitch, been frugal with resources, and had great support. YaST2 is a wonderful administration interface, especially for newbies. I only reboot for kernel updates. I can't understand why people like Ubuntu or Fedora. Tried both, hated them.

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Anonymous Coward

« Even YaST, an openSUSE strong point, works the same whether you're on KDE or GNOME »

YaST works the same even if you're on the command line (thanks to ncurses). The thing is a beast--German engineering at its best.

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Anonymous Coward

Server OS

" even a plain text-based interface for server installations are all there "

I can vouch for this. Over the last year I have moved most of my servers from Debian to OpenSUSE. I've been using (and developing for) OpenSUSE for over ten years, but always on the desktop. Eventually I got tired of Debian's weirdness when it comes to doing things their own way and breaking stuff (e.g., patching away /dev/tcp /dev/udp stuff in Bash), and with Apt's less than stellar aptitude. Anyhow, I started moving all my server stuff to OpenSUSE and the only time I looked back was just to put a smug face on.

Incidentally, I use the Build Service (http://build.opensuse.org/) and it's great the job it does of keeping you updated on bug reports filed against your products, and how well maintained the thing is.

I think I better stop writing now before I get a hard on. :-b

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