Suse Linux 7.2 was the first Linux version I’ve installed myself and ran. Around 2001, I worked as webmaster at the Nijmegen School of Management, where I also studied back then. Fred Melssen, who was my colleague back then asked me to build a new webserver and sent me to the local bookstore to get a boxed version of Suse, which came, and still comes with a nicely printed manual. Fred told me to familiarize myself with the system so we could move parts of the infrastructure of the faculty’s quickly growing web infrastructure to Linux. Back then, I also started using Linux and KDE as my desktop, first using an X Server running on Windows 2000 and using the remote desktop from that machine. So SUSE Linux (or was it still called S.U.S.E?) was my first free OS.
I installed openSuse 11.2 on a new computer I picked up from a shop earlier. It’s a small form factor desktop, with a 1.6Ghz Atom CPU, an Intel 945 graphics chip, 2GB of RAM and a 160GB hard disk. Nothing fancy, but good enough for web browsing, emails, and “casual computing”. The installation went smooth, I could even install it from a USB stick, which is nice since it seems to be faster and produces less useless coasters. After booting, I’m really impressed and pleased with the Operating System. It simply doesn’t get in the way, everything is nicely integrated, even Firefox. It looks all very well polished, from technicalities like suspend/resume working out of the box, compositing effects enabled without having to do anything, and even sound just working (apparently pulseaudio has been removed from the installation) to visual aspects. I also very much like the looks, it looks very much like openSuse, but really slick. The theme it uses is based on Nuno Pinheiro’s Air which is the default for KDE 4.3. As part of a programme to streamline branding between up- and downstream (in this case KDE and openSuse, other distros are also involved), Nuno has been working with the openSuse guys to provide a branded theme for openSuse. The result is simply astonishing, and it the result of years of hard work from the Oxygen theme all across visual and aesthetic aspects of the OS (pun intended). It’s really nice to see icons, widget theme, window decoration, wallpapers, desktop widget theme and so on all matching so nicely, enhanced by subtle translucency effects and animations. It’s very beautiful and usable.
Congratulations to the openSuse community to a solid and beautiful release!