Good buy for the money. ($5 including shipping and handling) Unfortunately, they crammed what they can (on a single CD) which takes up 650MB. A decent Linux installation these days with all the bells and whistles will exceed 3GB. This means you have to download all your applications directly from the OpenSuse web site. This is certainly possible, but it is painfully slow. The YaST updater is very easy to use, but you have to use it a hundred times (at the cost of 5 minutes per pop, if you have very high speed broadband like I do. Double that for standard DSL. Using a modem? Don't even try.) The CD disk you get does not include even the basic stuff like gcc, gdb, make, RCS, or any tools. I was particularly ticked off by the fact that the installation did not even offer "tsch" as the login shell at the time the user accounts were created. This is because tsch was not part of the CD package. It is the most common shell used on UNIX, and the second most common on LINUX.
I will gladly pay twice as much money, if the installation was on a DVD instead, and included all the standard packages. (And why not? They are available free of charge.) A single CD Linux installation days are long gone, this is the year 2008.
On the OpenSuse Linux itself, I don't have much to say. I have been familiar with it for a long time, and I like it a lot. It comes with KDE by default, which is a good desktop. But there are better ones. Windows users may prefer Gnome. The power users may prefer Enlightenment. In either case, you will have to go through a painful switching process with downloads and adjusting the settings. The release 10.2 is approximately the same quality as others I have used before, with one exception. I could not make the wireless work on my laptop. (Fortunately, the ethernet port still works, otherwise I could not download anything.) YaST finds the wireless card and configures it (with my encription keys), but at the end it does not work. (There is nothing wrong with the wireless card or its configuration. When I boot my laptop to Windows, the wireless works perfectly well.)
Worked as advertised. openSuse was a easy install and very user friendly for a first time linux user. I'm using this OS now to write this review. The online support community is very good, they have a great irc room on freenode that is very useful for having question answered as they pop up. The chat room in set up for default when you open up the chat client "Konversation" I gave it 4 stars as I have not tried all flavors of linux out there; (and there are a lot) but this is a good starting point if your looking for a good first experience with linux.
Recently I had the opportunity to try the Suse 10.3 Live Disk. Just to make sure I wasn't missing out on anything, I went ahead and installed it to the hard drive of a Lenovo Y410 where the Windows OS had gone south.
As to the good points:
Installation was a breeze. Put the disk in and tell it to install. Took about 20 minutes total, give or take. Slick interface. Really nice main page with bright colors and a minimum of fussiness. Probably one of the closest-to-Windows Linux distros out there. It quickly found wireless hotspots, although connecting was something of a hit or miss proposition (see below). Included library of applications is a rather hefty 3 GB and includes just about everything you could need. If you can't find an app you want, YAST will probably get it for you, although it has problems (again, see below). It's quicker than Windows once booted but is no quicker than Windows to boot. Mainly of the apps, like OpenOffice are merely free clones of equivalent Windows based programs. This is good because one interfaces with the other without too many problems. You even get a free clone of Adobe Acrobat which costs close to $400 for Windows. Virus problems? What virus problems? Very few are written for Linux so that worry is not something you have to fret over. Ditto for updates. Windows has probably sent me over 1 GB of updates for my Vista version. How many has Suse sent me? Zero, nada, zilch. If they do send you an update the green lizard in the corner (or is it a gecko?) turns colors and starts flashing until you say yes or no. Windows just downloads them without you knowing and I've had some Windows updates jam up my pc to the point I had to do a system recovery.
Now for the bad:
If you don't feel like paying Novell (the parent company that produces Suse) $59 for a disk set you'll have to download a 4.1 GB monster installation app. While this shouldn't be a problem, it quickly becomes one if you're using Internet Explorer (it cannot handle anything much over about 2 GB on a download). I installed Safari for Windows to handle the larger download. Once you download it, then you have to do an ISO burn which means you'd better have Nero or any of the free ISO burning apps. It offers to do an online check once the distro is loaded, but it apparently forgets that it hasn't configured your Internet connection yet. After it chokes on the online updating it then finds your Internet connection and attempts to configure it. Cart before the horse. Do you know the difference between a Gnome desktop and a KDE version? Apparently Suse assumes you do. They give you the option but don't tell you the difference (Gnome is the Windows-like version). The Firefox browser included is dreadfully slow because the DNS check has been enabled (supposed to offer greater security against phishing and bad websites, but it's awfully pokey). I had to do a quick Net check to find out how to disable the DNS (enter about:config in the URL area and scroll down and disable DNS). You can download a load of free apps if you desire, but you have to go through YAST, a computer management program. YAST insists on refreshing every time you bring it up, even if you just closed it a minute ago. Add enough repositories to YAST and it can take 5 minutes to refresh each one. Also, it insists on refreshing ALL of your repositories and the only way to speed up the process is to delete a couple of them. Guess what? You have to go through YAST to do that so you'll have to wait 5 minutes to get there! This is a needlessly long way of getting to what you need. In some cases, it actually jammed up my pc, especially if a repository was offline at the time. Once you do get to the repositories and available apps, some of the descriptions are bizarre and can be confusing. Want to upgrade you whooiz and whatchayoumaycallit? I don't know for sure, but you'll find something there along those lines. Be careful what you download, it may jam something up. In fact, I downloaded a program that was designed to blow off the hard drive to a zero state. Not exactly something you want to fool around with but the description didn't quite mention this. Typical of Linux, there is still no standard for sound cards. The Linux Standard Architecture would not recognize my Soundblaster card and I had a devil of time getting it to work. It worked once and never worked again. I just gave up. Unless you download a special app, you can forget playing DVDs. Due to copyright constraints it ain't happening anytime soon. Secondary apps do exist to play DVDs but there is no guarantee that they will work with Suse completely. Once I did get the DVD to work the playback was horribly choppy and erratic. Wireless, when it works, is great; however, it would offer drop a signal inside my house even though it was showing a 75% signal. No warning, it would just drop. One time it switched from my signal to a public signal nearby. While this doesn't bad, it's a signal that wouldn't allow certain programs to run (like the Linux Instant Messenger - Pidgin) because of restrictions. Again, no warning, it just jumped.
While it may seem the bad points outweigh the good, it's a matter of perspective. Linux always has had some bug issues but so does Windows or Apple OS. Linux suffers because it's an free OS (most can be downloaded for free but they do charge to mail you disks) and the Big Boys don't like the Free Guy knocking on their doors.
Fact is, Suse is a slick OS and probably second only, in my mind, to Mandriva 2008.