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Old 09-01-08, 10:16 AM   #2
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Join Date: Aug 2008
Posts: 84
Default Re: Couple of Q's about OpenSuSE

64 bit is not a problem at all. Most distribution, openSUSE included, include 32-bit compatibility libraries and compilers for 64-bit systems, either by default or if you want them. And most programs you compile nowadays have 64-bit support anyways. If, by some chance, you need to compile a 32-bit program you can do that without too much trouble if you have the 32-bit compatibility package for your compiler.

The only problem I have had is playing Real videos in mplayer or xine-based media players. I think it has something to do with packman's version of xine not working well with 32-bit codecs. You can still use Realplayer to play those videos. packman is the main "non-free" repository for packages with potential licensing issues. openSUSE has a license for playing mp3 files so that is not amongst the packages.

The licensing deal should also not something to worry about. openSUSE is a community-run distribution with some support from Novell, just like Ubuntu is a community-run distribution with some support from Canonical and Fedora is a community-run distribution with some support from Red Hat. The licensing deal is for Novel's own commercial Linux distribution, not openSUSE. Even if you disapprove of it the deal has nothing at all to do with openSUSE.

Besides, if you have problems using things backed by Novell, you shouldn't use compiz or XGL either since they were (or maybe still are) both originally supported by Novell in the same way openSUSE is. They are also one of the biggest financial supporters of the Linux kernel, far bigger than either Canonical or Red Hat. They have also defended Linux against Microsoft in at least one legal battle and are also the ones who single-handedly defeated SCO, the company that was threating to sue every Linux user on the planet. So it is not as simple as Novell being a front-man for Microsoft or a force for evil that is trying to destroy Linux, but neither is it the case that they are perfect angels either.

But it seems a lot Linux users are perfectly willing to bad-mouth openSUSE because it is affiliated with Novell but would never give up their precious Compiz, not to mention Linux itself. My personal feeling is that the licensing deal itself is not that bad a thing, Microsoft is paying Novell and that helps Linux. The problem is that Novell has not made it clear enough that it does not agree with Microsoft's patent claims, which they appear not to but I don't think they have explained that well enough. So I don't think the deal itself is a problem so much as the unanswered claims that Microsoft is making about it, which shows a lack of spine on Novell's part.

I have been using the 64-bit version of opensuse for almost a year now and have been very happy with it. If you like KDE, and particular KDE 4, it is really hard to beat. That is actually why I switched from Kubuntu. The package management has also improved a huge amount for openSUSE 11, it is fast, efficient, and I almost never encounter a dependency issue it cannot resolve.

The openSUSE Buildservice is also a huge plus, it is a highly organized and highly-focused way to get just the set of packages you want. For instance there are 3 different KDE 4 repositories, one for 4.0, one for the most recent stable, and one for the most recent svn. There are also stable and unstable Mozilla repositories, stable and unstable Openoffice repositories, and a whole lot of other things. For a lot of different popular programs it allows you to pick between the version it shipped with (plus security updates), the most recent stable version, and the most recent unstable version. It is very useful if you just want one unstable program and only over a certain period of time, like while it is in RC. You just turn on that repository and then disable it when the final version comes out. You should definitely browse the buildservice for repositories you want to subscribe to.
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