I installed SUSE Linux for the first time at the weekend and I was suprised at how unimpressed I was. That’s not to say there is anything wrong with it, I just expected a lot more after the good press it’s had over the years.
Back in the days when I first started playing with Linux (Red Hat 5.2), you couldn’t download the SUSE installation CDs for free, so I started to use Red Hat Linux and have pretty much stuck with it (RHEL, Fedora & CentOS) ever since. I’ve played briefly with other distributions (like Debian, Mandrake, Slackware and Ubuntu etc.) but never seen anything worth making me switch.
During a fit of idle curiosity I downloaded SUSE Linux 10.1 and installed it. Two things people often mention about SUSE are the great hardware detection and the ease of installation. I’ve never had a problem with the hardware detection using Red Hat, so I’m not in a position to comment on that, but the installation process doesn’t seem that wonderful to me. Once again, that’s not to say there is anything wrong with it, I just expected something neater and simpler than Anaconda, but what I got looked a little messier and certainly not simpler to use.
Once it was installed it was just like every other distribution, but with a different theme. Nothing to deal a knockout blow to any other distribution I’ve used.
In conclusion, I thought I would experience something better than a Red Hat offering, but I was left feeling rather apathetic about SUSE. If it was the market leader I would use it without any major complaints, but since it’s not I guess I will stick to a Red Hat clone until a new market leader is born.