There’s nothing quite like looking at a new Linux version—especially a minor release that promises to bring so much to the user as does OpenSUSE’s latest effort: 11.4. OpenSUSE 11.4 might prove to be the best upgrade since the leap from OpenSUSE 10.X to 11.X. Though these early “Milestones” as they’re called, are alpha versions, 11.4 Milestone 2 is very stable and surprisingly responsive, even installed into a virtual machine the speed enrichments are quite striking. That performance boost is one of the big improvements over earlier versions with 11.4’s new kernel (2.6.36) and updated Xorg packages. Expect impressive boot times and enhanced performance for application launches.
Starting with installation, 11.4 offers a simplified installation wizard with only a few questions standing between DVD boot to usable system. Compared to a Windows 7 installation, OpenSUSE can boast a simpler and faster procedure. The only OpenSUSE installation step that remains somewhat cryptic to would-be adopters is that of the disk layout and partitioning. Confusing disk options aside, 11.4’s installation and initial setup is easy for the new Linux user.
At its current development stage, 11.4 contains several package updates, most notably GNOME 2.32, KDE 4.5.1, kernel 2.6.36 RC 4 and OpenOffice.org 3.3 alpha. By the time 11.4 ships in March 2011, it will contain GNOME 2.32 with the latest patches and bug fixes and the KDE 4.6.0 incarnation.
In addition to updated packages and newer versions of the major desktop managers, OpenSUSE 11.4 will arrive with some intriguing additions such as Smeegol, Meego’s attractive Linux desktop for small screens, as an alternative desktop choice. Users currently may choose from GNOME, KDE, XFCE, LXDE, a minimal X environment or the legacy character-based (command line) interface. 11.4 also includes the System V (SysV) init scripts replacement, systemd. Systemd is a system and session manager for Linux and is generally compatible with the SysV and Linux Standard Base (LSB) init scripts. Cronie crontab manager replaces the Vixie cron and adds anacron for additional scheduled job functionality.