It only took me a couple of minutes to find some pretty easy solutions to problems with Pulseaudio on Suse. The opensuse site itself has the following: http://en.opensuse.org/SDB:Pulseaudi...A_fall-back.29 Pulseaudio also has info on how to set it up properly and solve any problems: http://pulseaudio.org/wiki/PerfectSetup The easiest solution, however, is probably just to upgrade the version of Suse you are running and the problem will probably fix itself. Opensuse 11.4 has been recently released. It is easy to install Suse and you just have to remember when installing it to select the upgrade setting not the complete new install. If you don't feel comfortable doing it yourself it is probably more convincing to say to the IT guys, "I want the newest version of SUSE" than "Get my sound working". However, given they did not do a good job of installing it before I would do it myself.
I think Suse is closer to an expert distro than Ubuntu but that does not mean it is any harder to use and the install is also very easy, if it is harder than Ubuntu to install it is only marginally so. My father uses Suse and finds it a lot easier to use than Windows so I don't think one can question its ease of use.
The main differences between SUSE and Ubuntu that would interest an average user are the desktop environment and what they contain. SUSE's native desktop environment is KDE while Ubuntu's is Gnome. A very rough comparison is that KDE is more similar to Windows while Gnome is more similar to a Mac. Both work fine, the one that one prefers is really a matter of taste/what you get used to. Both SUSE and Ubuntu offer versions of their distro in the other desktop but in general most distros tend to work better in their native environment. I have never used SUSE in Gnome so I can not comment on it but I did try the KDE version of Ubuntu, Kubuntu and did not like it all, ie. if you want to use Ubuntu, use Ubuntu not Kubuntu.
The other difference is what the distros contain. Ubuntu is a barebones version of Linux and purposefully so. Now calling it barebones in the Linux world does not mean it is barebones compared to Windows, indeed it contains a lot more than Windows and all free and not in trial versions that you need to buy later. Ubuntu is designed to be a very light and fast install that contains most of the things that a fairly basic user would need. SUSE is a much larger download and takes about 10 or 15 minutes longer to install though the person doing the installation does not have to do much more during the install than for Ubuntu, you just have to wait longer for SUSE to do its thing. The reason SUSE takes longer is it has a lot more programs that are pre-installed. Some users might never use these programs but I do and I would prefer to spend an extra 10 or 15 minutes during the install than having to spend time installing programs later.
Most of the programs in Linux that anyone outside of a real computer nerd is going to need can be installed on any common Linux distro. This is the problem I have with the Microsoft/Apple like marketing spiel of the article that was posted. There is some propriety software that is only available for certain distros but most of the opensource stuff we use on Linux runs on any distro. In other words, you can install all the extras that SUSE has on Ubuntu as well, you just have to take the time to install them individually. On the plus side you would save some disk space but unless you have a really small hard drive that is not much of an issue.
Also to mention the issue of popularity the Joe raises, Ubuntu tends to be very popular in English countries while Suse is very popular in continental Europe particularly in German countries. Ubuntu was developed by a South African and is now based in the UK while Suse was developed in Germany even though it is now owned by an American company. As much as Linux is often considered a computer geek realm, in my experience most people tend to not be that picky in selecting a distro and use what is popular in their area or what their friends use. Ubuntu also gained a lot of popularity by mailing their distro to people for free which was because its developer/owner was really rich and they had a business plan to make money on support so the more people who used it the better for them. Nothing wrong with that but it was a big reason for the success of Ubuntu as opposed to everyone uses it because it is so much better than other distros.
I think both are very good operating systems and it is a matter of preference which one one uses. I prefer KDE and to have a fuller version on install because while I am not a power user do use some things more than a basic user would so that is why I prefer SUSE.