openSUSE 12.1 in China: Updating and Mirrors
SUSE may boast that its enterprise release is the most popular commercial Linux system in China, but is openSUSE getting the short-end of the stick in the Middle Kingdom?
openSUSE 12.1, the latest release for the community version of SUSE, is an excellent and stable release. I haven't had any issues with KDE or any applications since its release last year. Although I skirt danger by running updates only once a month, I do this religiously. Unfortunately, for some reason, Yast has not had an easy time accessing openSUSE repositories very well since arriving in China, leading to long wait times and endless prompts to Abort or Retry. My Fedora, Ubuntu, and Windows 7 systems connect and update just fine, but openSUSE not only struggles to connect to the servers but fails 90% of the time. I've done a full installation of applications and updates with Fedora 17, upgraded to Ubuntu to 12.04 LTS, and even tested Windows 8, but openSUSE can't even manage to do a standard update.
I've already attempted the following:
1. Disabled other repositories such as Packman and enabled only official openSUSE repositories
2. Attempted 6 China-based openSUSE mirrors including one located in Hong Kong (though users actually never need to manually configure the mirrors)
3. Ran zypper via command line rather than Yast's GUI or even Apper
I've previously never had any issues updating or accessing repositories for openSUSE until moving to the Fragrant Kingdom so it's easy to assume it's because of the Great Firewall (though the Chinese mirrors should have worked). One last experiment would be to install a fresh copy of 12.1 via VirtualBox and check if the same issue would occur.
With Yast unable to connect to online repositories in China, users may have to resort to downloading RPMs via reputable sources like Sourceforge and openSUSE Build Service to install applications. As for updates, openSUSE 12.1 is so stable there really is no urgency in running updates for KDE and the openSUSE core (though I recommend running them when you do get access to a VPN or when you're back home).
That said, don't go to China unless you have already have a fully updated and equipped openSUSE install. Have an openSUSE image ready too in case you break your system. Clonezilla can create one in less than 20 minutes. However, if you're that paranoid or suffer from a compulsive disorder when it comes to updates (or obsessed with trying out new applications), then stick to Fedora or Ubuntu when staying in China.