I popped in one of the evaluation SUSE CDs that I had from LinuxWorld last night and installed it to a spare partition on my laptop. The installer was decent and I was booting up to my desktop quick enough.
I haven’t used an RPM-based distro since the Red Hat 7 days. I’ve been Debian/Ubuntu ever since. I know about Yast but I’ve had to feel my way around a bit. My laptop has an ATI X1400 video card, which means I have to use the binary driver from ATI. I installed this by hand, generating SUSE rpms with the installer and then rpm -i (and manually resolving dependencies, boo). Once I figured out how to register yast, it added some sources, one of which included ATI.
I was very surprised that, with only a few minutes of work, I was able to have fully accelerated desktop eye candy running. Wobbly windows, rotating cube, transparency, etc. I’ve never been able to get that working on this machine with Ubuntu.
The downside is that SUSE apparently comes with GNOME 2.10 or 2.12 (the latest being 2.16). I have no idea how to upgrade SUSE to a more recent version, nor do I know how to install the full Mono stack so I can do some work. I suppose I need to find a wiki or something that describes the process.
I don’t know if I’ll switch to SUSE or stick with the development branch of Ubuntu. I certainly like the visual effects that SUSE makes look easy. If I can figure out the basics of Yast, I might just give it a run.