Thursday, June 30, 2005

SUSE 9.3 Pro FTP & CDs download

SUSE has always made the boot.iso file available for burning a CD to do an net install of their latest version and a live evaluation CD version about 1 month after it was available for order and at retail. A while back after the release of 9.3, they made 2 DVDs available, one which runs entirely from the DVD (live version) and the other which is used for installing the SUSE to the hard drive.

This week they made available the CD you can use to do the net install. And, they've also made the entire 5 CD set available for downloading!

If you want to save time, you might still want to downlaod the boot.iso file (it's in the /9.3/boot/ folder of the mirror you choose. It's only 60 MB and is used for doing the graphical install of SUSE entirely from the Internet. It's not difficult to do and saves you having to download 5 CDs full of packages you might never use. Be sure to look at the README file before starting.

The popular wisdom regarding download sites is to pick one geographically close to you. Popular wisdom isn't always right. If you can't get a fast one try ones in Central Europe or less populous countries. I'm in Canada and have had good luck with Austrian mirrors, for example.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Debian - It Doesn't Suck Anymore

I know the title will have Debian fans frothing at the mouth but I truly mean it in a complimentary way. I've installed Debian in the past but getting all my hardware to work easily and getting a desktop environment setup, again, easily, was a pain in the ass. I've watched a Debian GNU/Linux expert install Debian only to have the mouse not detected. The mouse was a PS/2 mouse! Hardware detection seemed to be non-existent. Debian seemed to know nothing about your system and had to ask you everything.

But that was the past.

The new stable release of Debian (Sarge) has a much better installer. It's still text-based but it detected my wireless USB keyboard and mouse and setting up a KDE desktop was as easy as choosing a Desktop option and it was all installed for me. I had to choose the right video card driver, though. And the install did take about 1.5 hours (about double as long as the typical Linux distribution). It even offered to replace my boot loader with one that amazingly detected SUSE Linux and Windows XP Pro and offered entries for them. I didn't trust it though and tried to set it up in the MBR of its own drive (which failed). It's not perfect, but it's definitely a step in the right direction and the desktop install gave me a lot more applications than the average distro. And of course, being so new, it has the latest of everything.

I chose the Net Install ISO (about 110 MB) which I downloaded as a torrent using Azureus. Then the installer automatically gave me the option of adding desktop, web server, file server, development packages, etc. I just chose the desktop option and I appear to have both GNOME and KDE. In any case, if you had trouble with Debian in the past, it's worth another look. Download the ISO and try it out sometime.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Fleming Linux - Basic course

Finished teaching this Linux course Wednesday night. It was a great experience and everybody did pretty well. Fleming is offering it again in January of 2006 so come on out if you're interested.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Book review: Beginning SUSE Linux

Apress sent me a copy to review. This is an introductory softcover book about how to use SUSE Linux. It includes SUSE 9.1 Professional version on DVD.

It's jam-packed with information that is suitable for the Linux newbie. However, it also offers info I haven't seen in introductory Linux books before about using, backing up personal data (command-line and graphically), optimizing your system, using Rekall and security. Sure, these topics are covered in a few texts like O'Reilly but not usually with so many screencaps and step-by-step exercises.

As with most introductory textbooks that try to cover a little of everything, nothing is covered in depth, but I've seen more depth here than most beginning books and more to the point, it's great to see a book for my favorite distro! This book will take the beginner through from installing SUSE Linux to using it as their everyday desktop. Enough is covered about using the shell that it won't be terrifying to newbies but will still give them a solid grounding in the console.

The book is easy to get into and a delight to read. If you've always wondered about SUSE (or just Linux), there is simply no better book that I've seen for becoming an intermediate user.

My only complaint is that the book includes a DVD instead of one or several CDs. I may be wrong here, but I really don't think DVD-ROM drives are so common in systems that everybody can be expected to have one. And seeing as how this is a book that's actually specific to a distro, having the distro on CDs would be handy. Thankfully, you can download a one-CD version of 9.1 Personal from the SUSE website and then use a mirror as a source instead of the CD so you can get professional packages too. To give them credit, the book does mention this for the DVD-challenged amongst us.

More information as well as a sample chapter is available here.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Tux Magazine

Produced by SSC (the same people behind Linux Journal), Tux is a magazine designed for new Linux users. The magazine is available in PDF format as a download or within your browser. I haven't tried it in xpdf and it generates an error message on loading in Acrobat Reader 5.02 so best to get the latest version of Acrobat Reader. No reason to scroll. Go full screen and click through it!

Btw, you do need to subscribe with an email address in order to view it but it's free. If you're worried about getting spammed, check out Mailinator or Sneakemail. Writer vs. Microsoft Word

This seems to be a thorough review of Version 2 Writer as compared to Word 2003. The author writes:

Both are adequate for most users' purposes, so I focused on functions that power users are likely to want:

Bulleted and numbered lists
Headers and footers
Indexes and tables of content
Conditional text
Master documents
Drawing tools
Unique features

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

SUSE Linux 9.3 Slideshow at

SUSE is my preferred Linux distribution and has been for several years. I've found it most polished than many other distros including Mandriva. The new version looks really spiffy judging by some of these screenshots at OSDir.