OpenSUSE and Ubuntu Compared: Page 2

While Ubuntu is still a great choice for newbies, OpenSUSE 12.3 is ideal for more advanced Linux users.
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Drivers and Restricted Codecs

Ubuntu users have long enjoyed the benefits of the restricted driver manager. In later releases of Ubuntu, this shifted to the Software and Updates tool, under Additional Drivers. What's nice about this feature is that if you're missing a proprietary networking driver or a proprietary video driver, this tool will provide you with the option of installing it with ease. As for installing restricted media codecs such as MP3 playback or MP4 video playback, you would need to visit the Software and Updates tool to enable "Software restricted by copyright," then close the dialog and refresh the repositories. Once this is completed, the next step is to visit the Ubuntu Software Center and do a query for media codecs. There you will see a short list of GStreamer codec options to choose from.

In OpenSUSE, you only need visit the software portal and search for codecs, select opensuse-codecs-installer and install it via OpenSUSE's one-click technology. It's really just that simple. However, when it comes to installing proprietary video drivers, you're best off avoiding this software resource and simply browsing over to OpenSUSE's NVIDIA or ATI documentation instead. In both instances, you can install these proprietary drivers through the one-click system.

Software Availability

When it comes to software availability, it's fair to say that Ubuntu wins. Thanks to their Software Center, they have a number of proprietary titles not found in the repositories of other Linux distributions. However, OpenSUSE wins when it comes to later software versions thanks to their software portal. You might think of it as OpenSUSE's hassle-free alternative to Ubuntu PPAs. If you can't find a software title in YaST, even after enabling additional repositories, you'll find what you're looking for in the software portal.

Now here's where things become blurry for me. Ubuntu does a better job with software discovery, thanks to the new and featured software in the Ubuntu Software Center. I'll be the first to admit that because of the slide scroller and featured applications, I've made new discoveries. OpenSUSE misses out in this space since they're more hierarchy-based with their software management. But if I have a general idea what I'm looking for, this works out well enough.

YaST Is Awesome

What draws me to OpenSUSE over other distributions is YaST. It's a way of using a GUI to manage my system without feeling like I'm being treated like a newbie. The out-of-the-box features, such as YaST patterns for the role of your machine, system hardening, simple firewall setup, user management tools, plus oodles of additional functionality, have left me speechless. Best of all, I can go "rolling release" easily thanks to OpenSUSE Tumbleweed.

To be honest, I appreciate how YaST frees me both from spending extra time setting up my system the way I want and from the hassles of an RPM-based distribution (I hate RPMs with a passion). My only wish would be to see the software portal better integrated into YaST, along with an easier means of discovery for new software.

For newer users, Ubuntu is still the best distribution choice overall. There's less stuff to get lost with, discovering new software is easier, and keeping the system in good working order is a no-brainer. I would be remiss if I didn't mention the Unity Dash, Amazon search results, and the various Web services integrated into the desktop. For newbies, this can be seen as another tool for discovery. However, I think for advanced users, it may be best to simply remove these functions altogether – which is easy enough to do.

If you're an advanced user, you'll want OpenSUSE. For anyone who has a firm understanding of how the Linux desktop works, wants to get things done quickly and wants a ton of GUI control over their desktop, OpenSUSE is the distribution you will want to use. I can't state this enough. Version 12.3 changes everything I've ever known about this distribution. It's simply a fantastic choice.

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Tags: open source, Linux, Ubuntu, desktop, openSUSE

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