Sunday, January 7, 2007

The switch from K/X/Ubuntu to openSUSE

I've been using K/X/Ubuntu (mostly Kubuntu) for about the last three months or so, switching over from a Mac (22 years, there). Why I made that switch is for another post, though.

I've been using openSUSE for somewhat less than 24 hours. Obviously, I've got a lot more 'buntu experience. Why this switch?

I've had two running problems in 'buntu: printing, and using a LightScribe burner.

I had a Samsung ML-1210 monochrome laser for the last few years, replaced at Xmas with a Konica Minolta magicolor 2530DL color laser. I could get the ML-1210 to print easily enough when directly connected to my 'buntubox, but couldn't share it with other computers (a B&W Mac, a Mac Pismo PowerBook and an IBM ThinkPad 570 running 'buntu 6.4 and 'buntu 6.10). When connected to one of the other computers, I could not get the 'buntubox to see it or use it, no matter how I set up printer sharing on the host computer.

Like I said, I got a color laser for Xmas, which was even worse. At least I could easily set up the ML-1210 to print when directly connected, but not the 2530DL - no drivers for 'buntu. The 2430DL is a network printer, and it took all of five minutes to get the two Macs to see and print to it. No joy with 'buntubox.

The 2350DL has rpm-based drivers for linux, and specifically notes that it'll run with Fedora and openSUSE. There is software to translate rpm to deb ('buntu is a Debian spinoff), and instructions on how to translate and install such software. I couldn't find specific instructions for my version (Kubuntu 6.10 - Edgy Eft) and this printer, but I found something close enough that should have worked. No joy.

The other problem I had was with my LiteOn SHM-165H6S DVD burner. It burns just fine, but I couldn't get the label-burning side to work. Not a failing on my part - it doesn't work with 'buntu 6.10. There is a workaround posted that entails setting up a 6.4 install, under which the LightScribe software does work, but I didn't feel like going to that much effort.

Since both the printer & LightScribe drivers claimed to run on SUSE, and I happen to have a SUSE install disk on hand, I decided to install SUSE & see how it works.

As far as my two problems, it works alright. It took about ten minutes and I had the printer working on direct USB connect (and the Macs still work fine with network printing). It took a little longer, but I also got the LightScribe software to work.

I'm going to have to work on that some more, because the workaround I've got now doesn't work worth a damn. Oh, it works. Work up a label on the Pismo in Discus, then print to pdf, open the pdf in GraphicConverter & save it as a jpg, copy the jpg to my flash drive, plug the flash drive into the 'buntubox, open 4L-gui (the LightScribe software) & burn the label.

It works, but it works worth crap. Somewhere in the label to pdf to jpg to 4L-gui to disk process, the text quality goes to hell.

I tried the newest version of Discus, but it's still in Prerelease, which is a pain in and of itself. I bought it the day after Xmas, to go with the color laser printer, but didn't bother using it until today. First thing it tells me is that it's outdated, and I should download the newest version. OK, I download the newest version, only to be told that my Discus art file is outdated, and I need to download a copy of that. Go to the download page, and I'm not finding the art file. Go ahead & run the outdated version, since it's got an export as jpg option. Of course, that option doesn't work, because it'd outdated, or it's not yet implemented. OK, now I'm starting to get irked. Fire up the old version of Discus, which works, & work up the label. Print to pdf, convert to jpg, etc.

I really need to find a disk labeling program for linux, or put the burner in a FireWire case & run it off the Mac - the nice people at MagicMouse (the Discus people) told me that they were going to add LightScribe functionality to Discus real soon now.

Of course, if I do that, then I've only got one reason to use SUSE. Solve the printer problem, and I can go back to 'buntu. Of course, by then I might decide I like SUSE enough to keep using it. I'll see.

edit I've got the LightScribe working. I e-mailed the folks at MagicMouse & got the page for the latest prerelease and downloaded the complete package. With the new version of Discus, with the new version of the art fire, it all works. I worked up a label, saved as a .bmp, copied it over to the susebox (can't call it the 'buntubox if I don't have 'buntu on it, now can I?) and burned it onto a disk label with 4L-gui. Works good, even great, but at 15+ minutes a disk, it'll put a major bottleneck in my backup plans. Guess the sharpie still has its place.

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