While I’ve been a software engineer for years and have used *nix systems for some of those years, I’ve never installed or used Linux before. I started my foray into this subject by installing SUSE 10.1 on a DELL WS 410:
- Dual 400MHz PII with 768MB of memory
- 9 GB SCSI hard drive
- NVidia GFX4200 Graphics
This system has been running Win XP Pro quite nicely. Performance has actually been quite good and this system is very usable under windows for document prep, C++ programming using Visual Studio 6 and web browsing.
The project started by downloading and burning the 6 CDs from the SUSE site on my windows desktop system. It took about 3 hours to download all the CDs over my cable modem line.
The next step was to install the older HD on the system to keep the Win XP HDs intact. Dual boot systems seem like an unreasonable complexity since this is a secondary system.
There are two CD/DVD drives on the system: DVD-ROM and CD-RW. Both older, but serviceable, and both on the same IDE channel. Starting the installation with the DVD ROM got into trouble after a while with a read error, so with CD-RW and DVD-ROM swapped – master / slave – the install was restarted. And eventually it completed and seemed to work fine.
But then the first disappointment reared it’s ugly head. The installation chose the following partitions:
- SWAP 1.1 GB
- / [root] 3.3 GB
- /home 4.0 GB
After the installation, starting YAST2 to update the system revealed that there was only 25% of the root partition left for updates and installing other software such as MYSQL, APACHE and some sort of IDE for C++ development. Not nearly enough space for all of these. And of course, the partitions in a running system cannot be modified or extended. Investment up to this point was about 4 hours. The good news was that the Gnome desktop actually looks quite familar and very functional with a number of applications built-in.
So back around through the whole thing. Stopping in the paritioning and doing the Expert thing, allowed the following paritioning to be setup:
- SWAP 1.1 GB
- / [root] 5.3 GB
- /home 2.0 GB
At this point the day is pretty much gone. The Gnome desktop is up, the network is alive and reaching the internet through my LAN router and I’m writing this using FireFox from the Linux Desktop.
The bad news is that YAST2 can’t seem to install the system software updates, some of which seem to be security updates. Using the Software Update tool built into Gnome, then configuration can be done manually and pointed to the Open Software Lab at Oregon State. But this tool crashes when installing the simplest update.
Attempting to use YAST2 directly is a nightmare since it apparently cannot be manually configured and when the Configuration step is attempted, it hangs up forever without resolving an update address.
The performance of YAST2 is surprisingly terrible. When the update tool is activated, it takes litteraly several minutes for it to load the packages. It must be doing some sort of n-squared search or compare to account for this time. This behaviour is noticed during the installation as well which is appaerntly driven by YAST2. Perhaps YAST2 is based on some scripting language and the search algorithms are programmed in the script languge rather than in a library of compiled code. Linux installation and configuration suffers and is significantly more complicated and time consuming because of this horrendous performance problem.
More later… The saga continues…