Objections to Lenovo + SuSE

June 10, 2008

I just received my Thinkpad T61p and was eager to try SUSE, seeing as I have never used SUSE before but have used about every other major Linux distribution. Sadly it didn’t pan out:

1) Updating the software via zmd

Sat for over half an hour “resolving dependencies” without telling me anything else (buttons were grayed out). Sorry, but rule number one: never leave the user out of the loop.

2) Installing a basic -devel library (libpng, depends on zlib):

resolve-dependency: 50 sec

transact: 54 sec

update-status: 49 sec

And when I add in zmd updating the list of software, I am talking about a three or four minute process just to install trivial developer libraries such as libpng-devel. I’m sure this is just a configuration issue but it really gave me a sour taste.

3) Using Yast2

A) Common libraries and programs not in SUSEs repo

Many packages weren’t even found, for example ‘wine’ and ‘libjpeg-devel’ turned up zero search results. Perhaps there is some reason the GUI isn’t giving me much, but using yast through the cli doesn’t seem to be any comparison to apt or yum. Am I mistaken in thinking yast2 should help here?
B) Many options not entirely visible

“Installation into Dire” ok, so I know thats “Directory”, but what does it do? Can it help with any of my issues? Why can’t I mouse over it and read it all or see the entire text in a status bar?

4) Upgrading to 10.1 and 10.2

A) Three was no blatant ‘upgrade to 10.1′ button, but I found it and lived, no big deal

B) Upgrading to 10.2, short of downloading openSUSE DVDs, seems to require registration. This is amazingly stupid if so. Even if there is a way to do so without registering why have the road block method be the easiest one to stumble across (via yast2 -> online update)?

C) Registration requires a “Service Tag” which probably came with my laptop (or could it be that I am not entitled to this service?). Being a savvy computer user I know right where to look for service tag numbers… after trying numbers on the laptop, the CD, the CD sleeve, and some on the box I gave up (I couldn’t find any documentation that identified such a number, obviously).

What does all this mean to the average Troll Enthusiast Fanatic Open-source-developer-wanna-be Parasite (TEFOP)?

1) I’m too tired

2) I don’t know how to use SuSE (and don’t care enough to spend much time)

3) My Internet connection must be mush (nope, I’ve been getting 200KBps, all of my HTTP downloads were fine)

And what do I want you to take away?

1) Hardware vendors shouldn’t ship 3 year old OSes (10.0 came out 6Oct2005)

2) More importantly: Software vendors trying to improve on their brand name should not allow older versions of their product to continue shipping on new hardware!

3) Requiring registration is a bad idea, but if it must be so then tell customers where to get the information you are requesting of them.

4) Keep the user informed. I don’t like 4 minute install times for 400KB libraries. I literally found the homepage, downloaded, compiled and installed a program before my single package install finished in two cases.

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3 Responses to “Objections to Lenovo + SuSE”

  1. wumpwoast Says:

    My little brother got a Thinkpad 600x recently (ancient history!) and I put xubuntu on it. Now something in his mind has clicked, and he’s finally jumped off the deep end, downloading any Linux ISOs he can find. Oh, and diving into Opera and boasting about ACID-compliant browsers. It’s scary to behold.

    I’ve had dependency hell issues lock up the “gnome-ish looking” Update Manager in Fedora also, but never in Ubuntu. In other news, aptitude hasn’t been getting any faster but it certainly still works!

  2. Kris Says:

    Just wondering if u found the “service tag”. I beleive the SLED (mine R61) comes with 1yr support (which is ~50-60$). Tech. support didnt have any idea.

  3. tommd Says:

    Kris:
    I never found that tag number, not that it matters, I wouldn’t have kept SLED anyway. Its just surprising to me that there isn’t more usability testing.

    Wumpwoast:
    I’ve not had dependency hell from YUM in quite a while, so I guess I’m just lucky. Thats cool about your brother – I always think its neat when people discover a freedom they didn’t know they were missing (and hopefully realize open standards are good!).


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