SuSE Linux 8.1 Professional

An overview of SuSE's new distribution: it's easy to use and can do a lot, but it's not for GNOME fans.

SuSE is well known in Europe, though less so in the US. It is, however, often available in stores here, along with Red Hat and Mandrake versions of Linux. As a desktop OS, it offers a good installer, a vast selection of applications and an excellent set of utilities--features that make it an excellent business desktop choice. However, if you're a GNOME user looking for the latest 2.0 desktop, you'd better look elsewhere.

During the initial installation, the YaST (Yet another Setup Tool) hardware detection routine generally worked well. It detected all installed cards, peripherals and printers, but it set one system's screen resolution to the maximum allowed by the graphics controller, which was higher than the monitor supported. This was not an issue with two other Linux distributions installed on the same system. The resolution problem happened using the default settings; it would have been possible to set the monitor resolution correctly if I'd been paying attention. Installation from a single DVD, rather than the seven CDs, is supported as well.

Figure 1. Installation Screenshot

The installer supports a very wide variety of hardware, including CUPS (common UNIX printing system) and many printers, 802.11. It also supports wireless, including WEP, Firewire and USB 2.0. Kernels optimized for Pentium 4 and AMD processors are available. You also are offered the option of installing the GRUB boot manager instead of the LILO boot loader, which will make dual-boot installations easier.

Once the operating system is installed, a tightly integrated software installer provides menu-driven installation of all applications included with the CD set. Instead of locating and installing a package file from one of the seven CDs, you simply select an application to install from the software installation menu, and it prompts you to insert the appropriate CD. The vast array (hundreds) of applications includes office suites, emulators, games, server applications, development environments, utilities and many more.

Default GUIs include KDE 3.0.3, Windowmaker, GNUstep (an OpenStep version), MFM and TWM, as well as a text shell login--but not GNOME 2.0. Indeed, installing and enabling GNOME as the GUI is not a simple process and is not covered well in the manual. Instead of selecting it from the installation menu, you have to find the YaST package manager and then add the GNOME set of applications. Even after GNOME is installed, standard GNOME applications, such as Galleon and Evolution, are not available from the start menu. They are installed, though, and are accessible from the SuSE applications submenu.

The standard office suite is 1.0.1. It includes TrueType support and improved import filters. KOffice 1.2 is also included, though it is not installed by default. Other new applications include GPhoto 2.1, an application that transfers images digital cameras for editing with The GIMP; the Ogg Vorbis 1.0 audio encoder and player; and K3b, a CD burning tool.

Figure 2. OpenOffice Spreadsheet

The YaST Online Update (YOU) utility lets you keep the system up to date. It downloads a list of all available updates from the SuSE server, and you decide which ones to install. In addition to installation from CD-ROM or DVD, the Software Installer allows installation from FTP and HTTP servers, local directories or network drives.

Administrators, users who work from more than one location and home users with several users on a single system will find the system profile manager, SCPM (SuSE Configuration Profile Management) a great benefit. It allows separate profiles for different users or locations, allowing you to control access to system configuration, applications, printers available and more.

For security, SuSE Firewall 2 includes encryption of the filesystem. Other security technologies included in the distribution are GNU Privacy Guard (GPG encryption) OpenSSH, PAM and IPsec.

SuSE Linux 8.1 includes kernel 2.4.19 and gcc 3.2. The Powertweak program allows experienced Linux admins to modify kernel parameters to maximize performance.

A number of server applications are available as well, including Apache 1.3.26, an IMAP/POP mail server, LDAP server, DNS, NFS, NIS servers, NNTP server, RADIUS server, a mail retriever for picking up mail from ISP accounts, WINE (Windows emulator), Samba (for Windows file sharing), marsnwe for NetWare emulation and a variety of others. Four journaling file systems, ReiserFS, JFS, XFS and Ext3, are available.

SuSE is a participant in the UnitedLinux initiative, but UnitedLinux features are not available in version 8.1. The upcoming Enterprise Edition should include UnitedLinux, however. A Live Evaluation CD image can be downloaded from the SuSE site.

The distribution includes an excellent set of revised manuals with new chapters about digital cameras, USB 2.0 and Firewire support and the CUPS printing system. Documentation in general is clear and accessible, though GNOME users will probably be disappointed.

SuSE Linux 8.1 Professional (7 CDs, 1 DVD, a User Guide and an Administration Guide, 90 days of installation support) is USD $79.95. The price for SuSE Linux 8.1 Professional Update is USD $49.95.

  • Excellent documentation

  • Great selection of additional software, with a very easy installer

  • Sophisticated administrative tools

  • Poor GNOME support

Logan Harbaugh is a freelance writer specializing in reviews of network operating systems, clustering, load balancing and network hardware. He is located in Redding, CA.



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Re: SuSE Linux 8.1 Professional

Anonymous's picture


Re: SuSE Linux 8.1 Professional

Anonymous's picture

Logan Harbaugh should search for another job. This writing is a big peace of crap. To me this so called freelance writer had too little time to realy review SuSE 8.1, punshed some buttons on installation without reading the screen, and summed up some features found on the web and in the manual and made it an article in five minutes.

Re: SuSE Linux 8.1 Professional

Anonymous's picture

I've installed SUSE LINUX Prof's good but my MPlayer DVD sound got "NO SOUND"...I've contact SUSE through email they said maybe my sound card...problem..(but I can listening music..etc only My Mplayer got "no sound").

SUSE said If I'm still have problem contact their support(it will cost me of course..what an arsh****)

I tried to installed on "three computer) with result same problem I can wacth dvd but "no Sound"

Re: SuSE Linux 8.1 Professional

Anonymous's picture

I don't see how Mplayer not working is SuSE's problem. If the sound works in other applications under SuSE then go get help with Mplayer, not SuSE.

Re: SuSE Linux 8.1 Professional

spacegecko's picture

I think this article is off the mark. SuSE is quite easy to use and install, and yes, Gnome2 works for me without a hitch. I use an MSI nforce motherboard (1st generation), and I've tried Slackware, Debian, FreeBSD, OpenBSD, Redhat 7.3-8.0, Mandrake 8.2-9, and none of them like my integrated video card. I bought SuSE 8.1 and it recognized my video card. At first it didn't impress me because Redhat recognized it, but won't let me use the GUI with it. I did an update after the installation of SuSE, and after I did the update it asked me to reboot. Upon rebooting, I saw the nVidia logo and now I have 3D acceleration without having to configure anything. I can finally play Star Trek Elite Force with wineX and UT 2003 (native to linux) without any problems. No other Linux OS would do that all automatically for me. SuSE is definitely a good choice for those wanting good nVidia support and Gnome2 options.

Commercial versions vs download versions?

Anonymous's picture

Since everything you listed trying besides SuSE have freely available downloads, and SuSE's FTP install has only recently become available, I assume you are comparing the download versions against a boxed set of SuSE?

If so, you should expect NForce not to work out the box. The drivers are non-free, so it's probably not possible (and in many cases not desireable) to have these drivers in the downloadeable versions (Mandrake has a policy that no non-free software may be in the download version).

I suspect that the boxes sets of Mandrake and Redhat should support NForce, in fact I think Mandrake 8.2 did support it.

So, please don't bad-mouth distributions you got for free when they don't support your hardware which has no free-software support.

Re: SuSE Linux 8.1 Professional

Anonymous's picture

SuSE Linux 8.1 Pro is one of the most excellent Linux offerings to date. My install was flawless and was able to get an auxillary server up and running in no time. If there is a version of Linux to spark in a big way in this contry, this product is it!

Re: SuSE Linux 8.1 Professional

Anonymous's picture

Open mouth wide, stick in foot, bite real hard.

I've installed SuSE 7.2 Pro and 8.0 Pro. Never had problems during installs.

I didn't even read the installation manual .. you know .. the one that comes with the boxed set.

8.0 Pro has a very smooth install. Smoother than the window guy.

I've installed RedHat (dropped it) and Mandrake (dropped it too) and found SuSE 8.0 Pro to be the easiest of all three.

KDE or Gnome and Envolution up and running with no problems.

I like it so much, I bought the ...

Enough already .... get the facts straight before you swing the hatchet!



Re: SuSE Linux 8.1 Professional

Anonymous's picture

Hello Dave, could you please tell me if I buy 8.1, would it be possible for me to get updates in the future without paying more? Also, how can I use SuSE to update the "kernel"? Also, if I install all those desktops -- KDE, GNOME etc -- can I choose at boot up time which one I want to see?

I am not sure how it works, a newbie. Would really appreciate help. Pls write to me at Thanks! Mucho gracias.

Re: SuSE Linux 8.1 Professional

Anonymous's picture

LOL, Troll posing as journalist. While I agree that SuSE's support of Gnome isn't as much as perhaps other distros. The complete package for Gnome 2.0 is included. As far as ease of installation of any package... I don't know what your doing to make you life so hard.

Install found all my hardware right from the start. One problem was the Promise onboard ATA/raid ide ports, not that it didn't reconize them, they just tend be read before ide0/1 so passing the boot parameter "ide=reverse" solves that (perhaps an issue with Promise technologies as well). Found my joystick, USB 2.0 ports, both the CDRW and CDR, Loaded the Nvidia drivers with Online-update, etc.. etc... Let's see. Installation time for all packages, 45 minutes. Installation for WinXP 1-1/2 hours a piece after 4 attempts - kept tripping over itslef.

I'm an R.N. with no programming or IT experience. SuSE 8.1 is a breeze. And your review shows your lack of understanding. The biggest problem with SuSE is the new version of gcc and some of the Java and plugins in the browsers -- which was also easily solved. You neglect to point any real issues and focus on the status quo - "Gnome is the desktop" and seem to be toting the Wintel sector's hype around Gnome. Gnome when it works right is quit nice. However, the fact be known by reading the gnome developers forums that the issues with Gnome in any distro is due to situations in its development -- not with any specific distro. And Given that the functionality of KDE 3.x is exceeding that of Gnome (I know - flame bait) I have to wonder about the continuing focus on the Gnome GUI. In my experience it's always been problematic (regardless of the distro e.g. RHat, Debian, Mandrake, etc) and if not for Ximian I have to give pause as to where it would be now. The best thing I have used from Gnome is Evolution - once again by Ximain.

Please try to actually look at and try the distro for more than a couple of hours before reviewing it. Your review seems to be based on an attempt to install the distro and poorly at that... Seeing that you obviously overlooked such things as "All of Gnome" in the software selection section during your installation -- how? I have now idea.

WTF? How does this make it onto a semi-professional website?

Anonymous's picture

I'm using SuSE 8.1 now. Gnome 2 worked right out of the box. Are you sure you're not using Lycoris?

GNOME works great

Anonymous's picture

if you're a GNOME user looking for the latest 2.0 desktop, you'd better look elsewhere.

Why? You said yourself that GNOME 2.0 was included. I've actually found that while Red Hat 8.0's GNOME was barely usable, SuSE's seems closer to the genuine article (less customization for the distro) and works better. Don't know why (maybe it was me), but Red Hat's window list applet for GNOME didn't even work half the time.

Anyway I digress. Pay no attention to this reviewers negative comments on SuSE's GNOME support. I've long been a KDE user, and this will be the distro I use to start to switch.

installing and enabling GNOME as the GUI is not a simple process and is not covered well in the manual

Maybe it's just because I've been using SuSE since v7.0, but I found installing GNOME so simple I didn't even remember doing it. Before I read this article, I thought it must have been the default.

In any event. I can't comment on office support, since I'm mainly concerned with programming and haven't used it yet. This author's credibility is shot after the first paragraph though. I'd take all of this with a grain of salt.

My only complaint about SuSE 8.1 is that vim doesn't seem to have the embedded python interpreter compiled-in by default. Also wxPython is not included in the distro. Although I don't think any distro does either of these things. Maybe Debian, but they're packages tend to be older versions of things with bug-fixes back-ported (very stable, but if you need/want the latest features...). And I'm not buying broadband just so I can use Gentoo. At least the version of vim included is right up-to-date, so this will be the first time I can at least use the source code included on the CD... instead of waiting for it to download...

Re: SuSE Linux 8.1 Professional

Anonymous's picture

Well guys .... I'm new at all this Linux stuff and I've had no problems installing Suse at all. All the drivers were fine KDE & Gnome installed without a hitch and I had apsolutely no problems running any programs in either desktop. Maybe those ppl haveing problems should RTFM and then start setting up there stuff. I've even started using Suse 8.0 at work .... now thats saying something .... and even there I had absolutely no probs seting it up on a totally different machine.

And ... Well .... Mandrake isn't supported by the big guys so I guess it's not worth going there. It's more for the home user.

I aggree .... ppl should give (no matter what the product is) a propper test before they bag it.

Ohh yeh ... my friend also installed it on his home system ... now he's really green to linux, and he managed to find out what problem was on the Suse site and he had it fixed in about 30 mins. And that was installing a driver whilst in the install phase.

If a gumby can do all that then Suse must be easy to work with.

Re: SuSE Linux 8.1 Professional

Anonymous's picture

i purchased and installed SuSE 8.1 without a single problem. i have never installed or worked with linux before this is cool. installed on a brand new p4 desktop, everything was detected including the usb. great software...

Re: SuSE Linux 8.1 Professional

Anonymous's picture

Hopefully SUSE has resolved their installation and support issues. I purchased 8.0 professional hoping to get a supported, high end Linux distro. It failed to install at all on one system, and only installed half the drivers on another system. SUSE support was / is a joke averaging 1 week between responses to questions, and was unable to resolve the issues. Their automated email response also notified me that they would get to me in turn, and that any followup emails would move me to the back of the queue.



In that case please do not send any other emails to ask for the

current status of your enquiry or to send an update regarding

your problem. Please be patient until one of our supporters answers your enquiry. Otherwise will our system consider each answer as a new one and set a lower answer priority.


Mandrake 8.2 installed normally on both systems and is running fine. I can't comment on their support as I haven't needed any.

Re: SuSE Linux 8.1 Professional

Anonymous's picture

Well, your 1st mistake was using an X.0 release. 8.0 changed a lot of things. And to be honest I wouldn't recommend and x.0 release for a production machine to anyone regardless of the distro, and this has been all to true for M$ as well. Another thing is that this is a review of SuSE 8.1 - Not 8.0. So, many of the problems your experiencing are most likely related to 8.0 and not so much about 8.1. And if your support needs are really that important you can call for support. Yes, sometimes the email support lags, they seem to focus on corporate accounts better than a single user. However, if you use phone support that escalates the status and the one time I had to do this It took me about 3 minutes to get it solved. Once again, this is a review of 8.1 and not 8.0. Try upgrading, it's much improved and I'm really awaiting 8.2 -- it should be even better.

Re: SuSE Linux 8.1 Professional

Anonymous's picture

>>Well, your 1st mistake was using an X.0 release.

Actually, my first msitake was expecting SUSE to support the distro in an effective and timely manner - that is what I paid for when I bought the box for $80. If all Iwanted was the distro, I could have downloaded it free.

>> And to be honest I wouldn't recommend and x.0 release >>for a production machine to anyone regardless of the

If 8.0 is an 'end user beta release', SUSE should say so on the box. (As well as M$ when they release one.)

>> Another thing is that this is a review of SuSE 8.1 - Not 8.0.

That's why I plainly said I hoped they had corrected the issues I found in 8.0.

>> And if your support needs are really that important you

I do consider getting the installation to complete successfully to be important. Over the years I have used and installed Caldera, Slackware, Mandrake, and Red Hat. Caldera has consistently had the best support, averaging < 24 hours response time for email support. SUSE offers email support as one of the options, and if it is going to be any less supported than other methods, they should say so. You appear to like SUSE. That's good, and I hope it continues to work well for you. But, I did have the problems I related and I thought others should know of the potential downside.

Re: SuSE Linux 8.1 Professional

Anonymous's picture

You guys must be either pansies or just plain sick! Viva SuSE Linux. SuSE is the best distribution of Linux around. I started with Red hat around 5.3. Nearly had a nervous breakdown at 6.0. Jumped to SuSE at 6.0, 6.3, 7.0. 7.3, and now 8.0. I am very happy with SuSE. The poor support for GDI printers leaves something to be desired, but, what the heck. My new Samsung ML1430 and Lexmark Z35 work great. I also expect SuSE to act professionally and responsibly. We don't mind paying for your product at stores, but if you are going to try marketing gimmicks on us, forget it! We are not Linux users cause we are studpid. It is the other way around. Are you listening SuSE?

Re: SuSE Linux 8.1 Professional

Anonymous's picture

I purchased SUSE 8.1 prof and personalll...I can listening music from my cd player..etc..except one "I can Watch DVD with "No sound"..and I tryed to installed on 3 computers with "same result problem"

So SUSE is SUXXX......(tryed to contact their's not helping me at alll..)

Re: SuSE Linux 8.1 Professional

Anonymous's picture

Agreed, I did get better email support back in the 7.x days. And as for the 8.0 version being a bit on the beta side, many on the suse email forum complained loudy about some of the changes. I do understand you misgivings about 8.0 and if I sounded hostile it was probably due to my angst about the review. If your going to review something I would hope that it is fairly comprehensive and unbiased (at least you can say your biased to qualify ones position). I felt the author did a halfway review. There's always problem with new releases, and yes, 8.0 had some issue. As far as email support, like I said before, it seems to have slipped. One might chalk it up to poor customer relations/mgmt or it could also be that over the past year or so they have cut staff (right after the bomb). Anyway, might be both. Furthermore, they have their hands in a lot of different cookie jars at the moment. They're working on United Linux, Desktop SuSE Linux/enterprise version (alot of wine implementation to run those damned Office Suites, Quiken, etc.. that the corporate world is convince has no alternative), and the present SuSE linux professional/personal version. I'm not so much trying to defend them or rationalize as much as simply look at the picture as objectively as possible. Yes, I'm a SuSE nixer and like their product. But I also understand you misgivings and can only hope that it will improve - if they're smart (and they seem to be for the most part) they'll get the customer support thing back up to snuf. But what do I know - I don't work for SuSE and can only be optimistic.


Re: SuSE Linux 8.1 Professional

Anonymous's picture

Well guys .... I'm new at all this Linux stuff and I've had no problems installing Suse at all. All the drivers were fine KDE & Gnome installed without a hitch and I had apsolutely no problems running any programs in either desktop. Maybe those ppl haveing problems should RTFM and then start setting up there stuff. I've even started using Suse 8.0 at work .... now thats saying something .... and even there I had absolutely no probs seting it up on a totally different machine.

UGLY Screenshots and False statements

Anonymous's picture

WTF is it with thos screenshtos, SuSE coems witha wonderful theme caleld Keramik, a great window decoration and OpenOffice is much lighter.

Your also pretty inaccurate. Installing GNOME and Evolution is easy. When it installs, you click the link for software adn than check GNOME and All of GNOME or uncehck some fo teh gnome packages you don't need. Evolution isa lso in the GNOME menus :o, stop talking poop doing such unproffesional reviews. Show the product like it is, don't change verything to make it look like a piece of crap.

Re: UGLY Screenshots and False statements

Anonymous's picture

Well well....two things : first I believe there is a lack of effort put towards writing english adequatly, i.e. if you are going to write comments, make sure you do not destroy our eyes with mistakes.

Second, (and most importantly!), I agree that this review was pretty weak, with no meat on the bones. If this is the kind of reviews on LinxJournal I won't bother and keep looking elsewhere...


Re: UGLY Screenshots and False statements

Anonymous's picture

If you're going to criticise somebody's written English, learn how to spell 'adequately'!

Bear in mind it may not be their first language.

Re: UGLY Screenshots and False statements

Anonymous's picture

Dyslexia is a Handicap, don't flame the guy. Spell-checking is great for these people. Mozilla and many browsers don't have it.

Also, let history remind us of the fact that many laguages did not have formalized spelling rules until a few hundred years ago. Phonetic spelling allowed you to spell the way you wanted, or taught, a word to be pronounced. According to Webster's, a Mr. Caxton performed a massive surgery on English spelling way back in 1600's where effectively phonetic spelling was raped. Many languages has undergone successive spelling reformations in the last hundred years to reflect recent changes in pronunciation. The loss is obviously the link with historical influences and cultures which bugs the crap out of the Old Guard.

The gain is a greatly improved educational experience. Time is better spent on learning more useful things than a long since vanished culture's idea on spelling (which may have made much sense 2000 years ago).

How many countries have spelling contests? If a student has to spend more than a year of his life learning how to spell, a reformation is needed.

I can think of French and English as prime candidates for spelling reformation. The Chinese characters also come to mind too as too difficult and has likely held back literacy and development.

Re: UGLY Screenshots and False statements

booda's picture

All these replies just makes me laugh....everyone is overlooking the main part of these threads and that is to reply on the review. I'm a linux newbie so I don't have much input but if you're going to add criticism then why not do it positively....and add to what the review lacks.

Just my 2 cents..


Re: UGLY Screenshots and False statements

Anonymous's picture

Guy's I do understand where you're coming from because it's difficult to read the poor grammar the post above used.

But please remember that Linux is a world-wide effort, and not everyone speaks English perfectly.


Re: UGLY Screenshots and False statements

Anonymous's picture

couldn't agree more for the ugly english...

sometimes reading comments like this makes me wonder what kind of person wrote it...then all the credibility of the comment disapear...

Re: SuSE Linux 8.1 Professional

Anonymous's picture

This reveaw is a discrace to SuSE AND to LinuxJournal. How can you post somthing so ugly on your site?

If you want too see the SuSE desktop look here:

And the GNOME desktop is here:

What is that bad screenshot on the page doing? Is he changing the theme and icons to take a screenshot?

Re: SuSE Linux 8.1 Professional

Anonymous's picture

I believe those were screenshots taken logged in as root.

I have the same look when logged in as root - which I've kept just to remind me to do what I came to do then log back out again ; )

Re: SuSE Linux 8.1 Professional

Anonymous's picture

I really agree about the ugly and awful review about SuSE 8.1

I work with SuSE since version 7.2 and I have never seen so awful screenshots of the desktop.

Right now I'm happy with version 8.0, and I'm not agree about what this man saids about GNOME. The only thing you need to do to make gnome look great is putting your brain to work.

The other comment is that: not because you live in the very north part of America SuSE is unknown in the middle and SouthAmerica. In MEXICO (wich is my country) you can see lots and lots of SuSE Boxes everywhere you go. And in this moment Mexico is not a country that you can continue ignoring.

And I think that's all I need to said.

Thank's for your time.


Ing. Israel Cabrera G.

A Mexican Electronic Systems Engineer.

suse 8.1

supermorph's picture

heres my experience

i find suse easy to work with in some respects but i get this back of mind feeling that in the retail or download ed's (i have retail pro 8.1 by the way) somthing is missing, i cant quite place what it is

i bought a newer laptop for this christmas

me being a mandrake lover wanted to stick thier v10.1 dvd ed on it
its a toshiba equium l20 with dvd ram drv

it boots up, and no matter what command i try it goes (cdrom device not detected)

i even partitioned a 2gb area, copied over the dvd files booted up and tried hdd inst (it said "no DISK detected")

so i had a try with suse 8.1 (knowing it wouldnt support my radeon x200m "natively without update") it actually WORKED! to my supprise the install gui popped up!

its now dual booting with xp home, im really happy cos now i can update it to somthing spectacular like 9.x then opensuse 10 afterwards, then i can get decent usage and great 3d support and useful (recent/modern) applications with a 2.6xx kernel

i just wander why mandrake wouldnt boot up an install
very strange, but i am still happy with 8.1

i dont think its really meant for users like at home, not that its hard to use or anything, i just feel its less friendly than the likes of linspire (w/o mension of thier rip-off cnr thingy) and mandrake or redhats fedora core 4(which my main comp uses)

ive had this suse for roughly 5 years now, and i can say honestly and openly, "even though its great, it doesnt make u a coffee in the morning lol"

the partitioning tool could of looked like mandy's one, where u get graphical rather than numbers (i know it has auto partition) but people want to explore new things, and they cant understand what they dont learn, the only reason i use windows as well is because they have steam and half life 2 on there, and swish and (adobe) macromedia products too, if it was natively ported (not 3d wine versioned) id gladly bin windows completley.

theres my 2 cents / pence