I have a reasonably old laptop – an IBM ThinkPad something-or-other. It has a Pentium III processor (just under a gigahertz) and 128Mb of RAM. Basically, it functions as a combined plaything and backup computer. In its capacity as plaything, I install distros and operating systems I want to try out on it – since it has no interesting data on it, I can do this without worrying about data loss.
My latest experiment has been openSUSE. And, I have to say, it’s been a very good experience. I don’t have a lot of experience with graphical installers (my distro of preference is Arch Linux, which is quite bare-bones), but openSUSE outstrips any that I have used to date.
Everything Just Works (TM), or near enough. I had to do some manual intervention here and there, but mainly because of my personal fussiness or, in the case of partitions, because I was starting from an unusual set up that I wanted to scrap. The installer detected everything, and told me exactly what it was going to do (but without using too much technical jargon, which is the sort of thing likely to put off new users).
I haven’t actually used it much, but so far I am very impressed. It’s not replacing Arch Linux on my desktop any time soon, but if I ever wean my mother off Cool Edit and on to Audacity (hence breaking her last tie to MS Windows), then openSUSE is definitely a contender for the distro for her machine. And it’s staying as the distro on the laptop, which sits at home for my parents to use, should they need it, while I’m at university.