Over the past few weeks I’ve been migrating my Linux machines — laptops, desktop, even the VMs at work-work which I use to give me a comfortable development environment — to OpenSUSE 11.4. It’s hard to say exactly why though. Part of it is personal interactions, like the distrbution of DVDs in Bangalore, and Will Stephenson helping me though a weird installation issue. Part of it is technical, where system management just seems better to me in OpenSUSE compared to Kubuntu. I screwed up an otherwise blameless Fedora 12 installation by trying to upgrade it to Fedora 15, so it got replaced as well.
Oddly, many of the things I like technically about OpenSUSE are exactly what some folks don’t like about it. Chatting with a customer over coffee at work I found they’re Debheads and that we stood squarely opposite each other regarding what drives OS choice (e.g. apt vs zypper).
Now that I use OpenSUSE in a variety of places I also bump into bugs every now and then. Most recently with mobile broadband, where I could not get knetworkmanager (or whatever it is that lives in the systray) to start a 3G connection. It would either repeatedly ask for a root password or, if I went through "Manage Connections", crash with a segfault after asking for a provider.
That bug made it to the "most annoying bugs" list, which goes to Novell bugzilla #673755. I was about to follow the advice from SuseStarted saying "remove the KDE NM and use GNOME NM", but the instructions seemed rather long-winded. Instead of removing things, I just tried installing NetworkManager-gnome. While watching that install I saw that it pulled in a package called mobile-broadband-provider-info. "Hey," thought I, "I wonder if crashes around the provider information are related?"
With that provider information installed, the out-of-the-box KDE mobile broadband wizard worked, I could pick T-Mobile NL as a provider, and everything seems to work (with the SIM that I pulled from my n900 for this testing).
So that’s one "most annoying bug" that’s remarkably simple to work around, even if it’s a bad thing that the shipped packages apparently (a) don’t have all the dependencies set up correctly (b) don’t handle missing data gracefully. Given Lamarque’s work on Plasma NM, I do wonder if this is worth looking into further.
Now to deal with the fiddly bits like all my desktop settings (no, Lydia, I’m not pinkifying this desktop).