openSUSE 11.3… some of the changes are for the worse.

…actually, one change only, as far as I’ve discovered.

The openSUSE guys decided to drop SCPM from 11.3.

“Instead” there is network manager.

Whoever made that decision has no idea at all about what scpm is, and what you can do with it…

To make it short, NetworkManager does exactly that… it manages network connections, after the user has logged in.

SCPM stands for “System Configuration Profile Manager”… and it does exactly that… it manages system profiles… at boot time. You pick the profile you want right at the grub screen, and based on which of your profiles you choose the system replaces configuration files and runlevels and starts daemons or not.

As an example:

With Network Manager I can set up different configurations for my wireless network card.

With SCPM I can set up different configurations for my whole system… as in “in this configuration start the network card with dhcp, and start NIS, and start the automounter with NIS maps, and the time server is that, and the proxy is this, and the local hostname is whatever, and Oh i want runlevel 5 with kdm4 with that theme and this xorg.conf with 1680×1050 with the nvidia driver” versus “in that configuration, start the network so that the user can configure it with network manager. No NIS, no Automounter, runlevel 5 with a different theme because its the internal display at 1280×800, and automatically log in that user” versus “in this configuration, no network config at all, not even network manager, and text mode (runlevel 3).”

Or in short… replacing SCPM with NetworkManager is like replacing a whole kitchen with all appliances with one single spoon.

openSUSE 11.3 … I am impressed.

Just after we came back from our summer vacation I started upgrading a few computers to openSUSE 11.3, and I have to say, I found that to be pleasantly painless.

When I did that with 11.2, I found some major pains, but in 11.3, the "zypper dup" upgrade is officially supported, and "just works". So far I’ve done four machines, three of them had given me major headache when I upped them to 11.2 (as seen here).

With 11.3, the upgrade simply worked, seamless, even while still using the laptop in case for my daily work!

Now here are some few pros and cons that I’ve discovered so far:

The Pros

  • Like I said, you can upgrade a running system from 11.2 to 11.3 with the "zypper dup" approach described in the suse wiki. Take note to change EVERY repository to the 11.3 version, and disable/remove the ones that you won’t need.
  • Automatic X11 configuration works like a charm
  • The whole desktop (I’m using KDe 4.4.4 which is included with 11.3) feels very polished

The Cons

  • It took some time for the nvidia drivers to appear; without them the automatic X11 configuration would have failed, or rather, defaulted to that noveau driver which is not quite ready for use. Who in his right mind would include a driver at that state in a release.
  • SCPM config management will have to be redone in two cases… Time to rethink some settings anyways.
  • In one case I need a kernel parameter at boot time to disable the internal display of my lenovo laptop at work, because the thing doesn’t disable it from the bios if the laptop its in its docking station with the lid closed. Not exactly openSUSEs fault here.

Summary:

Go for it. It is good.