Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Suse Linux Enterprise Desktop 10 Test Run

A while back I mentioned that I was leaving Windows for Linux, I have been very busy at work though so I hadn't had the time to actually install anything on my desktop at work until a few days ago. Because of my line of work, I was unable to use Ubuntu like I had originally planned and had a choice between RedHat Enterprise Linux or Suse Linux Enterprise Desktop. Taking the advice from my friend Sontek I decided to use Suse Linux Enterprise Desktop 10 over RedHat. After some asking around at work I found out where to get my hands on SLED 10 and got to downloading. Unfortunately the most recent version of SLED I found was version 10 ( although I might be able to get 10 SP 2 now).

I had always heard how easy it was to install SLED 10 and how well most hardware was supported. It is actually pretty nice on the hardware support... if you are using the latest version (10 SP2). I, on the other hand was only using version 10.0. I popped in the 1st install CD and rebooted my machine. It booted onto the Suse installer where it stalled for a few seconds and dropped into the console installer saying it couldn't find CD1. I checked the md5 sum of the CD, it was fine, so the installer must not be recognizing the CD. I didn't have time to investigate until the next day so I went home without Suse installed.

The next morning I did some research and discovered an issue with some motherboards not actually running a real PATA controller and instead handing the duty off to a host controller. Because of this, the default modules loaded up by the installer weren't enough. The fix was easy enough though, I just loaded a few pata modules and the CD recognized properly. After that, the install was a breeze albeit very slow.

After about an hour and a half the install was finally complete and Gnome booted up... unfortunately the video wasn't recognized and was not displaying correctly at all. I squinted at the screen for a second and switched over to a virtual console and booted up Yast. Suse wasn't recognizing my video card correctly and had the color settings wrong so I fixed that and restarted Gnome. OK, no we are good. EXCEPT... now my Ethernet connection is not being recognized. Apparently the NIC I was using needed a module that wasn't in the 2.6.16 kernel that was installed. After some research I found out that I needed the e1000e module that was introduced in the 2.6.23 kernel!

No big deal though, since I want to learn more about Linux I got my chance to try out compiling my own kernel! So I jumped onto my laptop and downloaded the kernel and went through the the how to at Howtoforge. I actually found the process to be very interesting and a great learning process for myself. Obviously I'm still a kernel noob but at least now I have some experience compiling my own kernel. After I compiled the kernel and got the GRUB settings right I restarted Suse into my brand new kernel! After a successful login I was ecstatic I actually got a working compiled kernel!

That leads me to where I am today with Suse, my first install and a kernel compilation later everything seems to be working out well. There are some things I don't like about SLED so far, but I'll write those up later after I've had some time to use SLED and get used to it. This experience has been a good one for me though as it has taught me how to troubleshoot issues better and introduced me to compiling my own kernel. After all that I'm ready to install openSUSE 10.3 on my desktop at home!


  1. Had you considered ubuntu linux? I'm following your blog partly because I'm just starting out with eclipse.

    - twitter @springnet

  2. I had considered Ubuntu and I installed it on my desktop at work. Unfortunately, since I'm in test, I needed a Linux platform that IBM's WebSphere Application Server is officially supported on. That's why I went with Suse.