Opensuse 12.3 Milestone 1

Opensuse 12.3 Milestone 1 was released on Thursday (Nov 8, 2012), so it was not long before I downloaded the DVD image and attempted an install.  I actually downloaded both the 64bit DVD image and the 64bit live KDE image.  The download went smoothly.  I used “aria2c” from the command line, to download the meta-link provided.  There did not appear to be a gpg signature to verify the download, so I made do by verifying the sha256 checksum.

I have previously reviewed milestone 0, and I reported a few problems with that.  None of those problems have shown up with milestone 1, though some other problems have surfaced.

Booting with a USB

As has recently been my habit, I installed those two images on USB flash drives, intending to boot from there.  As it turns out, it was just as well that I used a USB.  A forum poster discovered that the DVD image was too large to fit on a DVD.  This is a problem for M1, but should not be a problem by the time that 12.3 final is released.

Note that I followed the recommended practice of running the “isohybrid” command (from the “syslinux” package) on the DVD image, before installing on the USB drive.  Working from a USB drive was fine, but I ran into other problems which I mention below under the heading “Crypto”.

The live KDE image

I first booted with the live KDE image.  That seemed to go very smoothly, suggesting that M1 would work well.  I tested this both on my laptop and on my older desktop system.  I did not run into any difficulties.  So, naturally, I proceeded to do a full install using the DVD image.  And there, I did run into problems.

Crypto woes

It seems that LUKS encryption is broken for 12.3 M1.  My first install attempt hung after I gave the encryption key for the existing partition that I wished to use for “/home”.  A repeat attempt failed at the same point.  The reason for the repeat was to document that this failure can be reproduced.

I followed with another install attempt, where this time the only crypto would be to use a randomly encrypted swap.  That uses the same dmcrypt that underlies LUKS encryption, but strictly speaking it would not have been LUKS.  And that install attempt failed rather later in the install process.  It appears to be the dmcrypt that is broken.

After a successful install without any crypto, I later tried to access another encrypted partition on the disk, using the “cryptsetup” command.  That, too, hung.  The problem with “cryptsetup” is likely to be the explanation for the other crypto problems that I had.

There is some good news – “ecryptfs” seems to be working well.  Once I had an installed system, I added “ecryptfs” from the repos, and that worked without a problem.  Still, it is usually advised that one should use encrypted swap when using “ecryptfs”, but I could not do that due to the “dmcrypt” problems.

The installation

The actual installation went quite smoothly.  I unchecked the option for using automatic configuration, which shows up in an early screen.  I then proceeded to import partitioning from my prior install, to setup “ssh” to start on the installed system, and to configure booting.

The next step was to select which software to install.  As usual, I chose KDE (a default), Gnome, XFCE and LXDE.  I also selected “icewm-default” and I selected “sendmail” for my smtp software.

My one surprise was that the “rcs” software was not on the install DVD.  This is only of minor significance, and I mention it only because I have recently blogged about “rcs”.  Once I had the newly installed system up and running, it was easy enough to add “rcs” from the repos.

Continuing with the install, the new system was written to disk and the system rebooted.  On the initial configuration following the reboot, I was prompted to configure my network connection.  That seems to be the main effect of turning off automatic configuration.

The running system

Once up and running, 12.3 M1 seemed to work pretty well.  KDE is at the 4.9.2 level.  The installed kernel is “3.6.3-1-desktop”.

I also briefly logged into Gnome (in fallback mode).  That, too, seemed fine, but I did not use Gnome for long enough to provide a useful assessment.  The particular computer that I used is not congenial to Gnome 3 full mode (nvidia graphics problems), though perhaps I should test whether that is better in 12.3.

Overall, things look promising for 12.3, with the exception of the serious crypto problems.  I expect those to be solved by the time of the final 12.3 release.


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About Neil Rickert

Retired mathematician and computer scientist who dabbles in cognitive science.

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