Sunday, 8 November 2009

OpenSuSE 11.2, KDE 4.3 on dell vostro 1520

I while ago, my mum's laptop died. It was a old Acer laptop (for quite a while I had one of these too). This laptop had been running OpenSuSE for quite a while and mum had been very happy with the KDE desktop. The main reason for installing Linux, was that Windows XP had become unusable. A clean install of XP is nice had fast and responsive, however if you then install all the service packs and updates, the system becomes unusable! Recently the hardware had started to fail, first the battery, then the wireless...... So it was time for a new laptop.

After much looking around we got a Dell Vostro 1520 laptop. Now people who have seen my previous posts will know I'm a big fan of the dell laptops. The are built very well and have good hardware at a decent price. The part of the dell website that lets you customize the computer you are buying is fantastic. It means when I spec out laptops for people, it could be tailored differently for the person that will use it. We did look at other makes, but they were either to expensive (Sony, apple...) , a brand I've not heard of, or don't meet the required specs.

I decided to install OpenSuSE 11.2 RC2 as the the time of installing it, their were about 5 days till it's released. I have to say, once again OpenSuSE has made some big step forwards in areas that I care about. With a install using just the packages off the DVD, it was great and pretty much ready to use. However I add a few of the repositories amongst them are Mozilla, Packman and the latest stable KDE repos.

So in the previous release the things I had issues with were broken kde4 wireless application and no way to rip music to mp3 from a CD (k3b was not setup to do this). Both of these seem to have been sorted. Setting up the wireless was a joy. It was very easy. Ripping music from CD to mp3 is still a bit clunky. I would like music to be ripped to the hard disc automatically when a CD is put into the drive. However I get prompted if I would like to extract the audio with K3b or listen to the music with other apps. This works well, k3b was able to extract the audio. Slightly confusing for mum as she did not understand the term Ripping. Maybe these buttons should be called "Extract Audio" in the same way the dialog that prompts be for what to do with the inserted disc.

Their is one other thing I really like in the latest OpenSuSE is the KDE intergration with firefox. This is really awesome. I would like to see this go a bit further. For example use kget as the download manager. At the moment I use flexget to send stuff to kget, but that's a bit clunky. I'd also like passwords to be stored in the KDE wallet. I'm now also wondering if the FireFox hacks could be applied to all GTK apps? I use Eclipse at work and it's very annoying to me that it does not fit with my desktop.

All the hardware in the laptop is working great. Probably the first time that I've installed on a dell laptop and had all hardware working without tweaking. That might be down to the bleeding edge version of OpenSuSE though :-) The only thing that need a bit of tweaking were the special media buttons (play, next, prev, etc....). The just needed to be assigned to the amaork. Would be nice if this was done by default in KDE (though it does depend which media app you use). The volume controls were already assigned to the mixer app, so that was nice.