First let me say, I am pleased with Mint, but I like the freedom of choice and to try out new things once in a while. First one I tried was OpenSuSE 11 Alpha 2
. Personally, I think this is going to be pretty mean. They have re designed YaST and the installer, both in look and functionality, configuring OpenSuSE will be easier than ever. For those who do not know what YaST is, it is a configuration tool, very much like the Control Center in Mint, but with more settings available. They have also made some changes with the package manager (Zypper?), but still it is pretty slow, it updates the repositories each time you start it, but it has been noticeable faster when you search for packages, but I still had to manually add some repositories (with YaST) after installation. The only sad thing is that it is dead slow, and have a horrific response time (for me at least), but since it is alpha software I am guessing it will be better when the final release is out. And the GNOME update manager still do not let you see what updates you install, unless you use the terminal to update.
A piece of advice when installing OpenSuSE, use the DVD, which contains both KDE and GNOME (11 will include XFCE as well, if I am not mistaken), and make sure you are connected to the internet, this will make things MUCH easier after installation. And be prepared to do some post installation of codecs and drivers, as OpenSuSE do not include patented/proprietary codecs or drivers on the DVD, but community 1-click-installs make this pretty easy. It also seemed like the support for laptop LCD panels have been improved, I got mine working properly on my HP dv6000 laptop. All in all, I will take a closer look when RC1 is out, or maybe when the final release is out.
Next distro I took a closer look at was Foresight
. It is based on rPath linux
, but seems more polished and streamlined. What I was most curious on with this was the Conary package management, but sadly I never got so far as to try it. First I downloaded the liveCD, thought I had a broken ISO, but then took a closer look that they use sha1sum instead of MD5. Might be wise, but I had a hard time finding software to calculate sha1sum in Windows, but linux does this natively. But not that it did matter, the CD was not able to configure X correctly, so it did not find a screen, so I was not able to use the CD. Undeterred by this, I decided to do a HDD install, these issues seems to be easier to handle then. First try it did not find my HDD, had to manually select the drivers required. By comparing modules Mint loads by using lshw I found that it did not load the Advanced Host Controller Interface (AHCI) driver (I had some issue with this on XP as well, there I ended up slipstreaming an install cd with SP3, AHCI and UAA), finally got that working installs and then reboot only to find that not only can't GRUB boot Mint anymore, but it still did not configure X correctly (and the irony of it is that the installer loaded X fine). So I ended up with a computer with to OS installed, but one unable to boot, the other unable to start correctly. It all ended up with Super GRUB, restore Mint GRUB and next reboot will expand my Mint partition. None of these issues are all that hard to correct, but I was not prepared to use that much time to just get it up and running, I installed it just to try it out. But since rPath latest stable release is 1.0.7 and Foresight is currently on 1.4.2 I give them the benefit of the doubt and might be taking a look again when version 2 or more is out.
Next one I will try out is a Slackware based distro (KDE, sadly), which sounded promising when I looked at it on LWN.net