What distros have you installed lately?
I always install new distros on my wife's computer. I don't use her computer much because it is almost always in Microsoft Windows XP... since my wife Shelly is mainly addicted to Eudora (which supposedly is going opensource and merging with Thunderbird?) and PaintShop Pro. For most everything else, I have her using free software though - Firefox, OpenOffice.org. etc. I think she would be comfortable moving to Linux and using Thunderbird and GIMP, Inkscape, and XaraLX... but I'm not going to twist her arm.
If I had to guess how many distros I've installed on her computer... errrr... I'd say... about 50. There has been Freespire, FC5, FC6, CentOS 3 and 4, RHEL 5 Beta, several Fedora betas, Debian, Ubuntu... and then there are the LiveCDs I've booted.
OpenSUSE 10.2 was released a week or two ago. I must admit that while I've tried SUSE a few times over the last 10 years, I never really used it long enough to get familiar with it. I've wanted to learn it... especially considering the fact that Red Hat and Novell are the top two "enterprise" distributions. Of course, OpenSUSE isn't SLED or SLES, but it shouldn't be too different, right? I downloaded the DVD and took it for a spin.
OpenSUSE 10.2 was fairly easy to install. The installer detected all the hardware. I must say that the install seemed rather pokey when it got to the actually installing individual packages. I've seen some distros take as little as 5 minutes... but OpenSUSE took around 40 minutes... which is slow on an Intel Pentium 4 with 512MB of RAM and a decent speed DVD drive. Oddly enough, GNOME is the default and even though I selected to also install KDE, it DID NOT. Why, I'm not sure. I would count that as a bug.
After installing it booted up just fine into a graphical login. Since KDE wasn't there, I used GNOME. As you have probably read, Novell/SUSE has altered the stock GNOME (and KDE) main menu. Perhaps I'll slap up a screenshot of it later but it basically has links for the default apps in serveral catagories as well as a link to All Apps which opens up a file browser window showing icons for everything. The menu also has a search feature that uses Beagle I believe (think MacOSX's SpotLight).
The desktop was pretty and everything seemed to work. I didn't get to spend too much time with it so I really don't have much to report other than the install and first boot experiende. I didn't notice anything special really.
I've tried Vector Linux before... mostly on older hardware where the system resources are lower. Vector is a refactored Slackware with a sub-set of Slackages (a word I just made up for "Slackware Packages") specifically selected for lower-end hardware. It does not include OpenOffice.org nor any other software that is considered to be overly bloated. Think of it as Damn Small Linux but with more software. The latest release of Vector is 5.8 and just in time for the holiday season. Vector 5.8 is a single CD that weighs in around 550MB.
Since I was installing on a fairly modern machine at work (didn't use the wife's machine this time), I selected all of the extra packages. The Vector installer is rather old-school... being totally text-based... well, correction... it is TUI-based as it uses text-based menus. It has been a long time since I've installed Slackware, so I'm not sure how much the Vector installer borrows from it. I found myself actually reading the screens because it was more than just the "hit enter over and over again" experience.
Although Vector is relatively small, it does come with quite a bit of software including a lot of the multi-media stuff you usually have to go hunt down after you do the distro install. Mplayer with all of those legally ambiguous codecs (including DVD playback), and Flash plug-in BETA 9 are included.
Also included were a sampling of OpenGL games that require 3D hardware accelleration to run well. The work computer has a on-the-motherboard Intel video chipset which happens to support hardware accellerated 3D with the stock Xorg distribution. Vector set it up just fine with accelleration enabled. Games like Chromium and NeverBall actually worked... and at 1280x1024 fullscreen.
Vector uses the XFCE desktop and it is pre-configured very nicely. It appears that all of the installed apps are present and grouped intelligently in the application menu. Overall, it is an attractive setup and VERY snappy. It includes a GUI package manager so you can install additional software if desired.
I hope to spend more time with OpenSUSE... as my review wasn't much of one. I'd like to try Vector Linux on one of the Cybernet boxes to see how if it maintains its snappiness on a Celeron 500 with 128 or 256MB of RAM... and whether it will fit on a 2GB drive.
I'm sure a lot of you install various distros like I do... and we'd love to hear your experiences!