This article describes my experiences when I tried the KDE install CD, now the KDE Live CD is released which has install option and most of my problems reported in this article are resolved by the Live CD.
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SUSE 10.3 was released and I had to try it. All geared up, I started downloading the torrent of the KDE version. I realized that it was not just me who was eager to download and try, but a whole lot of other people were also downloading the same torrent. I had 736 people as seeds and more than one thousand as peers. That's some numbers, SUSE definitely has a big fan following. The 700 MB iso took some 4-5 hours of download time on my 256 mbps connection and I was all set to install.
I already had Linux Mint on my system, so instead of bothering to burn a CD, I just followed the excellent tutorial on SUSE site to install from hard disk. I thought that hard disk install would be the fastest as accessing files from hard disk is much faster that that from CD, unfortunately SUSE install was determined to prove me wrong. When I booted from the SUSE iso, the first thing that hit me was that the install CD was just an install CD. Come on, in today's world where we have beautiful Live CD's which also function as install CD, why does SUSE still has just a plain install CD. Look at install CD's from PCLinuxOS, Ubuntu and Linux Mint, they all double up as Live CD + install CD. This option makes the computer usable even when the install is going on, apparently SUSE does not believe in this.
When I test a distro, I always accept the default options -- i.e just keep pressing next till the install is over, except for hard disk partitions. In my Mint install, I just had two partitions the root (/) partition and /home partition. I had copied the SUSE iso on the /home partition and booted from it. During partitioning the SUSE partitioner never allowed me to designate my existing /home partition to be mounted as /home because the current iso was present on that. I had no other option but to have my SUSE home on the root partition itself. Not a big issue, I can fix it when the install is over.
Next the installer asked me if I wanted to configure my networking, Cool ! why not. The installer got the settings from DHCP and went ahead with configuring online repositories. All well, or was it really well ? Installer gave me an option to confirm the install and I did. On the install screen I saw some download going on, why download when I have the install media on hard disk ? However, the download rate was too fast and I realized that even getting files from hard disk is termed as download. Still OK, suddenly the download rate dropped to snail pace. I then switched to virtual terminals from 1 to 6 but did not see any indication that any files are actually being downloaded from Internet. Back to the GUI installer, I saw that SUSE will install around 2GB from the hard disk and around 600MB from the online OSS and non-OSS repositories. Now SUSE 10.3 was released just days back, so there is no chance of 600MB updates, hence why install from Internet and make things slow.
Unfortunately it was too late by now, the install had started and it was going to take its time. I had also formated my Mint root partition and with it went the grub, so I cannot even restart the install. The download took a sweet 6 hours and I was watching TV to while away my time. This 6 hours also highlighted the need for a Live CD, at least I would have used the desktop. Maybe taken some screenshots or even written this blog from the Live CD itself, no such luck for me.
Further Shocks :
During the install I noticed that the java version being installed was 1.5, why install an old version when java 1.6 is already released and this is a spanking new version of SUSE.
At the end of six long hours, the installer asked me to reboot, reboot now when I can see on the left side menu that many things including setting a root password is remaining ?? Anyhow, I had no choice but to reboot. After the reboot, the installer continued the remaining tasks to having the root password and further configurations. This reminded me of another six years old desktop OS, which does a reboot during install -- Windows XP. However, that's a six or seven years old OS.
Here on for every configuration, I had to click a button. SUSE does not believe in minimal intervention from users. I think in total I pressed more than 15 click during the install.
This article is purely from the point of view of initial install and does not cover the usage. I know still I have to add the packman repository and install the video codecs etc.
I think this the the worst install experience I had in last one year. I was spoiled by the likes of PCLinuxOS, Ubuntu, Granular and Mint Linux. I feel that even the text mode install of Arch Linux presented a better experience than SUSE.
I know that usage wise SUSE is one of the best, but SUSE developers have to understand that installing the OS is the first part of the total experience.
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