SuSE Linux 10.0

Recently I purchased a new 120 gig drive, and I was inspired: Hey I should try installing linux again.

For those who know me, and have a memory for such things, I have linux moments. I would really like to be using linux. I would prefer it. As yet I have never paid for windows, and I do not look forward to having to. (Yes, I’m legal…)

So I decided to give SuSE a try. I have used in as a 64-bit server OS, and it was much easier for a gibbon like me to install and configure that any other *nix I had tried.
After reading the reviews going around the internet, it looked like SuSE was the closest to being a desktop OS. Better installer, easier to configure, more features etc…

My last affair with linux lasted a week. I had completely switched, and used it exculsively. For the regular day to day tasks, it worked acceptibly. I could chat, check my email, surf the web, listen to music and watch most videos.
Everything was working ok (aside from my hatred of open office – word processors should not be written in java…). I believe I was using Mandrake, and that particlar version did not come with firefox. Ok, so after MUCH ado, I did get it installed. And it worked acceptibly.

There was one thing that was driving me nuts, however. The fonts looked… yucky. They were muddy, fuzzy around the edges and blocky. After much research and even more ado, I recompiled X.Org to support font hinting and installed the MS fonts.
After switching to these better fonts, I still had fuzzy text in some programs. I found out there are multiple places you have to turn off antialiasing. So I edited config files, I edited xml files, and as far as I could tell, there should have been NO antialiasing.

Wrong. Firefox was still muddying up the fonts. So, I had to go though the advanced configuration page and look through hundreds of poorly documented settings turning off anything that resembled “blur, fuzz, smooth, alias”. No good. Nothing worked. I managed to make them look worse, but it refused to use my truetype fonts, and it refused to stop makeing the fonts look ugly.

To top it off, gaim’s window flasher was buggy. I need that feature.

The stray the broke the camel’s back, alas was lack of support for Windows Mobile devices.

Fastforward about a year. I don’t really use my pocketPC much, so it is not nearly so much of a priority.

Well SuSE got one thing right – font hinting is compiled in by default now. ClearType is also an easily selectable option, as well as cleartype configuration.


It doesn’t appear to work.

When I switched between them I saw no difference. Even using the truetype fonts, linux was mucking them up.
The killer in this case came from Firefox once again. The fonts just look bad. They look terrible, and they still have not made it easy (or perhaps even possible) to correct.

I was not going to waste my time on it again. I have found that the linux community does not think clear fonts are important, and that I am whining without cause. So I will just not use linux. Perhaps in another year they will get it together.

They need to stop this multiple font rendering engines. They need unity.

One thing I use a lot in windows is my second monitor. I have a dual head graphics card, and I like to have the extra space. To get this in linux, I have to install ATI’s proprietary drivers.
When it first started up, it looked like they had it right. They had created two desktops, and you could move your mouse between them. Then I noticed something. An annoying series of little windows containing the icon for all running programs showed up on the left desktop. Before I installed the drivers, this had been like the system tray in windows – a part of the upper taskbar. Now each program took up a full section on the lower taskbar and cound not be minimized to the tasktray.

Ok, I can live with this I guess…

Next, you cannot drag windows to the second screen. If you right click, you have the option of seding the program the the right desktop. So I chose that, and it places it on desktop # 2 on the left screen. Nothing shows up in the right screen. Apparently the right screen was supposed to correspond to desktop two. That is a great idea, but it didn’t work. Aside from being able to move the mouse between them, the two screens were completely independent.
No thanks. I need to be able to move things to my second display when the primary gets too cluttered.

The other issue is that the photo sharing feature in Yahoo Messenger (by far one of the nicest features I’ve seen in such a product) is not supported in linux. And I can’t use my napster subscription.

So there you have it. Two years in a row, and the fonts are still muddy. The cleartype does not appear to do anything, and programs do not play well together.

I guess I’ll try again next year.

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