I’m going to put my conclusion to this review right up front – OpenSuse 12.2 is a solid desktop and server operating system built on the incremental improvements that have been made across the linux ecosystem in the last 10 months. Whilst that sounds rather like damning with faint praise, in the current operating system ecosystem, there will be many who will find such an unspectacular and solid release, reason for wild celebration. OpenSuse is not trying to shoe-horn a tablet UI onto a desktop machine, ala OSX 10.8, Windows 8, and Ubuntu. OpenSuse is putting out a solid OS that provides its users with a system that they understand and meets their needs, is stable and performant, which in this day and age, is rather refreshing.
I won’t bore you with a long drawn out explanation of the installation, other than to say, it was straight-forward and uneventful. The installer is straight forward and simple, but also provides enough options to satisfy the advanced user.
A huge number of the new features are found deep in the bowels of the system:
- It uses the 3.4 linux kernel, which introduces improvements to the btrfs file system, a faster storage layer to improve transfer of large files and updated GPU drivers.
- Updated glibc improves performance, particularly on 64 bit systems.
- Updated systemd improves boot speed.
- Introduction of GRUB2
- Simplification of the file system
Even though this release is mostly about plumbing, some of the plumbing lays the foundation for more eye-candy:
- Update to QT 4.8 improved performance on the KDE desktop
- Mesa3D v8.0 which enables 3D support on VMWare and machines without 3D hardware
- Plymouth is used for the bootsplash, providing a flicker-free boot
- KDE upgraded to 4.8.4. Note that KDE has recently moved on to 4.9, and repositories are available for 12.2 here
- Gnome is updated to 3.4, bringing the Gnome developer’s rapid improvements to OpenSuse. I’ve never been a big fan of Gnome, so can’t really comment on the new version, but I’m sure Gnome fans will be glad for the update.
- XFCE seems to be the home of Gnome 3 refugees and is updated to 4.10. 4.10 doesn’t include any ground breaking new features, but implements many user feature requests. It continues its long tradition of being the light-weight desktop option.
I’ve been using 12.2 since its release on 5 September 2012. Which has allowed me to give it a rigorous thrashing for just over a week. I use OpenSuse on my desktop on a two year old machine of average specs. So far I haven’t noticed any bugs. Everything works as expected. I’m a KDE user, and 4.9 feels fast and stable. Dolphin, the KDE file manager, has seen significant improvements in speed and UI smoothness. Likewise, the desktop effects are faster and smoother, even on the integrated intel graphics chip on the machine.
Basically 12.2 feels like 12.1, but with a bit more speed, stability and polish. Congratulations to all the contributors on a job well done.