OpenSUSE 11.1

OpenSUSE 11.1 was released last week featuring a whole new set of applications and improvements, spread all over the distribution. The release is available as a DVD or an installable DVD, and can be downloaded from the official website. A complete list of new features can be found here.

The release comes with GNOME 2.24, KDE 4.1, OpenOffice 3.0 Novell edition, and other major updates to the main applications. One of the most discussed novelties of the 11.1 version is the new licence agreement, which does not require to be accepted at the installation time (actually it is implicitly accepted at download time, as written in the first few lines of the same agreement), because openSUSE media do not contain any proprietary software, which has been moved to an additional CD or can be installed directly from the installer, using the non-OSS additional repositories. This change was made to allow redistribution of the media, and some proprietary tools like Adobe Flash Player and Fluendo mp3 plugins are installed at the first update, to provide full functionalities to the user.

Another interesting change is the replacement of the SUN Java virtual machine with OpenJDK, right now that SUN released a 64 bit browser plugin. I think this choice is quite questionable: even if the SUN JVM is still available in the repositories, OpenJDK does not provide all the functionalities offered by the virtual machine from SUN

I have installed openSUSE 11.1 with GNOME on my laptop during the weekend, and the first impression is quite good, even if I had some problems during the installation, related to the partitioning tool. My disk was partitioned in this way:

| Windows Vista | Dell MediaDirect | swap |  / | /home |

The partitioner was unable to properly read the partition table, and did not allow any change to the current partitions. However it was in theory possible to format and use the existing ones. In practices, I could install the system but it didn’t actually format the root partition, which was evident by simply looking at the /tmp directory, where old files were still present after the installation. However the problem seems related to the presence of the Dell Media Direct partition. A problem with grub installation seems related to the same cause. However, if a more common partitioning is present on the disc, everything should work fine. I repeated the installation after removing the Dell MediaDirect partition, which I never use, and YaST properly created and formatted the partitions. The same happened on my dekstop. However openSUSE should work at fixing this issue, because many laptops come with special restore partitions, or quick access tools that use the same partitioning strategies.

Hardware recognition was perfect, which lead to a full working system in less than thirty minutes. The installation of the nVidia proprietary drivers was straightforward using the 1-Click provided here. Also the addition of media codecs proceeded without any difficulty thanks to the community provided 1-Click installation, which immediately enabled Banshee and Totem players to reproduce the majority of multimedia formats.

GNOME simply works! It is very clean and functional, with some improvement in performance and all the new functionalities included in GNOME 2.24.

The installation of the development tools I use was also very easy thanks to the “C/C++ development” pattern in the installer, which automatically installs the C/C++ compilers and all the dependencies required for development in C++. A wide selection of IDE is also available, including Anjuta, Eclipse and Kdevelop. Also Intel C++ and Fortran compilers of the 11 family work properly with openSUSE 11.1: you might need to install the package contanining, which is not pulled in by the Intel RPM’s, however it is provided in the OSS repository, and you will find it in the installer.

All the scientific applications I use were available at release time on the openSUSE buildservice, making it very easy to get them using the familiar and friendly 1-click installation procedure. OpenFOAM 1.5 works perfectly, and the provided paraFoam reader for paraview works without any need of recompiling it with personalized Qt libraries, as in openSUSE 11.0.

To conclude, openSUSE 11.1 is a good release, in spite of the short development cycle. Try it and enjoy!


After some days of use, the following unpleasant problems, changes and regressions in comparison to openSUSE 11.0:

  1. Anjuta does not work properly because it is unable to open any source file (Bug 461287).
  2. Eclipse CDT is dropped (Bug 457099).
  3. Nautilus crashes when USB devices are disconnected (Bug 461801).
  4. Webcam is not working with GNOME applications (Cheese, Ekiga). Only Skype seems to work properly.