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openSUSE 12.1 features explored

openSUSE 12.1 offers a wide range of new features and additions - here's a quick run-down of some of the biggest and best before our full review due tomorrow...

“openSUSE 12.1 represents more than eight months of worldwide effort to create one of the industry’s best Linux distributions,” said Jos Poortvliet, openSUSE community manager for SUSE. “The openSUSE distribution and its thousands of open source applications are the result of contributions from individual testers, writers, translators, usability experts, artists, ambassadors, packagers and developers having a lot of fun working together to create a uniquely powerful set of tools and capabilities.”

Here’s a quick breakdown of some of our favourite new and current features . Watch out in the next couple of days for our full review…

GNOME 3.2: OpenSUSE now finally comes with the newest GNOME instead of the deprecated GNOME 2 series, so if you don’t like KDE you’ll now have a modern desktop too.

Xfce 4.8: If you find the big two desktop environments too bloated, Xfce will surely appeal to you, as it is lightweight but has many advanced features. It now uses the LightDM display manager in openSUSE, so you don’t need GDM or any other GNOME dependencies.

Linux 3.1: The newest Linux 3.1 kernel has many new drivers for WiFi network interfaces, improvements to the Btrfs and Ext4 file systems, improvements to virtualization, and much more.

Systemd: Systemd will gradually replace the SystemV-based init system and swallow all service-related functionality, such as on-demand starting of daemons, automounting, and so on.

Btrfs: you can now use the new state-of-the-art file system Btrfs to install openSUSE on. Btrfs uses the ‘copy-on-write’ concept, which improves performance and reliability.

Snapshots: Another Btrfs feature are file system snapshots, which save the state of the file system at a certain point. Thanks to the Snapper program in openSUSE 12.1, YaST and zypper can automatically create snapshots when you change your system’s configuration or when you install some packages, which makes reverting the changes much easier.

OpenJDK: OpenSUSE 12.1 doesn’t ship Oracle’s Java by default because Oracle dropped their distributor’s license, so you’ll have OpenJDK now for your Java programs. Although you’ll probably face some incompatibility issues, Oracle considers OpenJDK as the official Java SE 7 reference implementation.

SaX3: SUSE’s good old X configuration tool is back, in the form of a rewritten SaX3. If Xorg autodetection fails, SaX3 can probably help you out of your problems. @name: opensuse_key_sax3.png

KDE 4.7: The newest KDE release isn’t so different at first sight, because the KDE 4 series is already quite mature, but there are some interesting improvements in performance and hardware support, as well as in network management.

Tumbleweed: One game-changing new feature in openSUSE 11.4 was Tumbleweed, a rolling updates version of the distribution. This was first only available for a selection of openSUSE packages, but now all packages can be installed from the Tumbleweed repository.