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SuSE 7.1 Professional: what 7.0 should have been...

The package

The package comes with 7 CDs and includes the far more usable single DVD. As always, the DVD installations are very easy and don't require you to be alert to change the CD on time. The excellent technical `handbook' is now, 15 pages richer (though we didn't check to see where). What we did see was that the manual still carries images from the 7.0 release. The usual QuickInstall, configuration and application manuals are available for quick help.

Installation

You can still choose between the old Yast1 text mode installation and the newer Yast2 interface. The SuSE installation remains the same. It's all very familiar and a little change would have been welcome. Of course comparisons with Mandrake, which has the best installation routine currently, is inevitable. What we desire is the ability to move directly back to any stage of the installation process without having to repeatedly press the `back' button.

The integration of GNU parted into their partitioning tool is unnecessarily hyped. This should have ideally facilitated the easy re-sizing of existing partitions but, as we found out, the implementation is far from achieving that goal. It allows you to re-size a partition but only if there are no Linux partitions on your drive. On our test system, which contained several Linux partitions, we created a large Windows partition occupying the free space. The idea was to re-size the Windows partition and create a Linux partition on the free space left. This plan failed because the option to re-size comes up only when the entire space on the drive is occupied by Windows. If Yast2 sees that you already have Linux partitions on your drive, it just assumes that you're going to use those partitions and hence doesn't give you a re-size option. Here again SuSE should learn from Mandrake. The rest of the installation was fairly standard and we didn't encounter any problems there.

LILO 21.6 is now included so you are not required to maintain a separate /boot partition as ext2. Now your entire system can be run on ReiserFS. SuSE also has a really cool looking LILO boot up screen. Speaking of ReiserFS, the sponsor banner, which shouted "sponsored by SuSE and MP3.com" at startup, has been replaced by a discreet "Check www.reiserfs.org for sponsor information".