openSUSE 11.1's New Partitioning Module
openSUSE 11.1 is moving ever closer to its December release date. The fourth beta release became available Monday, with some new bug fixes, updated versions of GNOME, Banshee and the kernel, and webcam support re-enabled. One of the changes long time openSUSE users will notice right away is the new YaST disk partitioner.
I had the chance to kick the tires of the new partitioner this week. It "does what it says," but the box looks very, very different.
There are two things I've always liked about openSUSE's disk configuration tools. Being someone who frequently switches out distributions, I've always liked that openSUSE, at least in the last few major releases, mounts /home on a separate partition as a default install option. Though not everyone changes distributions as often as I do, there are still advantages (in terms of upgrades and organization) to having a separate /home partition.
The other configuration utility I've been fond of is YaST's disk partitioner. I've always felt that out of all the distributions that package their own disk partitioning utilities (or integrate existing tools into their installers), openSUSE has consistently offered one of the most flexible and intuitive partitioners.
openSUSE's new partitioning module is full-bodied and feature rich, and works quite well. It offers the same function and achieves the same end as the previous partitioner, but the presentation is radically different.
Though those installing openSUSE as a clean install (or for the first time) might find the default partition configuration is sufficient, many will find they need to work with the new expert partitioner. Whereas the former partitioner tended to show less and require more "click through" dialogs, the new partitioner focuses on delivering as much information as quickly as possible.
The openSUSE partitioner displays the hard disk and storage devices on the system, and brings some partitioning tools to the forefront. One feature that's been swept to the forefront is the import feature for mountpoints from a previous system.
The new openSUSE installer tries to place the new install on the disk around any existing partitions. Unless a dual boot configuration is desired, it is usually necessary to make the partitioner to re-read the disk to get a clear picture of how existing partitions will work in the new system.
Choosing a disk partition from the tree in the device pane will open a dialog that allows you to choose whether or not to format or encrypt partitions (as well as choose a filesystem) and change or reassign mount p oints.
As always, openSUSE offers a very clear run down of any proposed changes (either suggested by the installer or made by the user) and the option to go back and fix anything that's out of place.
The new openSUSE partitioner is as solid and functional as the former version. The user interface seems as if it could be overwhelming to users unfamiliar with some aspects of advanced partitioning. I am willing to bet that there are just as many that will appreciate the at-a-glance access to the entire system, and the flow and layout of the remaining dialogs.