I threatened to abandon my Arch Linux installation the other day, and that happened of course — Crux is recompiling as I type. In between those two I installed OpenSuse just for a lark, and because I don’t think I ever worked with it before.
Technically I did — I think I grabbed a KDE4 live CD that was OpenSuse-based a few months ago. This time I used a Gnome-based live CD and let it spin up, install and mess around, just to kill time.
In all it wasn’t much different than any other Gnome-based distro I’ve handled. In my experiences with Linux thus far, I find that once you move above the core elements of a distro and the obligatory differences (like package management), one looks very much like another.
As it should be. Linux is Linux, with very few exceptions to that rule. OpenSuse 11.0, for me, in its Gnome incarnation, wasn’t much different than Ubuntu Gnome or Arch Gnome or … anyway.
I will say that I liked the default desktop theme, and the one-panel arrangement is interesting, when compared to the standard over-and-under Gnome desktop. I managed to get my video card working with the proprietary driver, update the system, install Firefox extensions and so forth.
About the only thing I couldn’t make work was automounting my modular hard drive. For some reason, the drive was listed under fdisk, but HAL ignored it and Nautilus played dumb until I leaped to superuser and mounted it manually.
I have a feeling there’s something user-privilege-related at work there. If I had given it more than an hour and a half I might have found the issue and fixed it.
But like I mentioned, aside from core issues like package management, one Linux system isn’t much different from another. I found the OpenSuse package handler to be extremely slow (but I had just come from pacman, which is god’s gift to package management, as far as I’m concerned), but functional, and with a good range of options that made it easy to select repositories and update. It just took forever to do, that’s all.
After that, I really don’t have any suggestions or capitulations. It worked well, I had a fully functional system and nobody stole my credit card number (I think). So if you want something that’s as replete as Ubuntu, but not Ubuntu, I would recommend it. If my recommendation is worth anything to you, that is. … ;)