OpenSuse 11.4 changes and improvements

As far as Linux releases go, OpenSuse is one of the more important ones. Often overshadowed by the likes of Ubuntu, OpenSuse is an easy-to-use comprehensive Linux release. Being closely related to Novell’s Suse Linux, it is popular in the enterprise world.

So, with just a couple of weeks to go until the next big release of OpenSuse it is worth taking a look at what users can expect from version 11.4 when it is released in March 2011.

One of the big changes in version 11.4 is a simplified installation routine. Gone are the days when Linux needed specialist skills to be installed and most Linux makers are working their hardest to simplify the installation process.

OpenSuse’s new installation screen limits user interaction to just a couple of questions before installing the software to disk. There are still the extended disk partitioning tools available, which most experienced users will be pleased about. For newcomers to Linux most of that can be skipped and installation is a breeze.

Smaller devices

Although OpenSuse 11.4 will ship with the latest versions of the Gnome and KDE desktop interfaces, it is the inclusion of Smeegol that is most interesting. Although terribly named, Smeegol is nonetheless interesting as it is a derivative of Intel’s Meego operating system. Smeegol was produced by members of the OpenSuse team to mimic the interface provided by Meego. Because Meego was designed for small interfaces, such as those on mobile devices, Smeegol is aimed at being OpenSuse’s mobile interface.

Until recently OpenSuse was working on shipping a version of Canonical’s Unity interface with its distribution but that idea has now been dropped. Unity is Canonical’s interface originally designed for mobile devices and soon to be Ubuntu’s default desktop.

Another of the major changes in OpenSuse 11.4 is the complete removal of the HAL (hardware abstraction layer). HAL has been a mainstay of most Linux releases for many years but OpenSuse has now opted for a set of more up-to-date tools including udev, udisks and upower.

To make administration easier OpenSuse 11.4 will also include WebYaST. YaST has been the long-time system administration tool for OpenSuse and WebYaST, as the name suggests, is a web-based version of the same. This new option will be particularly popular with systems administrators that need to manage multiple machines remotely.

OpenSuse 11.4 is scheduled for release in March 2011. A developer release of 11.4 can be downloaded from from the OpenSuse site.

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OpenSuse 11.4 changes and improvements