The best part is available after the installation is completed. Bringing up YaST (yet another setup tool) and choosing “Configuration” brings up a selector menu that looks like the “Check Config” utility in SGI's Irix and is similar to the configuration tools within System V Release 4. On systems running an unlinked kernel, most configuration is done this way. S.u.S.E. has managed to bring the same, sane method to Linux. In order to use this feature the S.u.S.E.-modified sources need be loaded.
I have not reorganized my disks to accommodate another Linux distribution yet, so I started with the “demo” mode using the file system on the CD. It worked, albeit with some pains—especially speed—almost all the user-level programs are on the CD. Regardless of which keyboard is chosen in YaST, once the live file system is loaded, the keyboard reverted to a German layout. I found this to be a real irritant. X configuration is simple and quick with the XFree86-3.3 version of XF86Setup. Once the X server is up, the environment presents a wide range of options—including dynamically switching window managers from fvwm2 to olvwm to an mwm clone to AfterStep.
S.u.S.E. is well worth the $49 US price tag. It is also available as a subscription, for $34 US a pop with 3 releases per year expected, that can be canceled at any time. This is a full-featured distribution without commercial packages. There are quite a number of demos of commercial software included, but no fully functional packages, which keeps the price low. The installation is fast and fairly easy to use. With few reservations I'd recommend this system for users with experience ranging from modest to advanced. The installation requires slightly more Unix exposure than Red Hat 4.2, and since there is an exceptional number of options, it is better suited to those who have done some hacking. It is stable.
Perceived performance is on par with Red Hat 4.2 and Caldera Standard. X installation is surprisingly quick, especially when one considers the amount of additional programming that S.u.S.E. loads. (S.u.S.E. loads and configures multiple window managers and desktop paradigms). The kernel tuning process is identical with other distributions. There are two sets of kernel sources—the straight Linux code and the S.u.S.E.-modified code. I used the S.u.S.E.-modified sources so I could access the configuration utilities, which are most certainly worth loading. S.u.S.E. updates are built in RPM format and are available at their FTP site. The lag time between bug reports and updated code seems to be in the two week range, which is as good as, if not better than, most commercial operating systems. This is definitely a competitive system worth consideration.
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