I last wrote about openSUSE in April 2013 and at the time I asked whether openSUSE was a real alternative to Ubuntu.
The article sparked a number of comments by openSUSE and Ubuntu users and some people said yes, some said no.
Today I will be reviewing the latest version of openSUSE to see what has changed.
According to the openSUSE WIKI page the aim of openSUSE is as follows:
The openSUSE distribution is a stable, easy to use and complete multi-purpose distribution.
It is aimed towards users and developers working on the desktop
or server. It is great for beginners, experienced users and ultra geeks
alike, in short, it is perfect for everybody! The latest release, openSUSE 13.1,
features new and massively improved versions of all useful server and
desktop applications. It comes with more than 1,000 open source
The website for openSUSE can be found at http://www.opensuse.org/en/.
How to get openSUSE
To download openSUSE visit http://www.opensuse.org/en/
- Pentium* III 500 MHz or higher processor (Pentium 4 2.4 GHz or higher
or any AMD64 or Intel* EM64T processor recommended)
- 512 MB physical RAM (1 GB recommended)
- 3 GB available disk space (more recommended)
- 800 x 600 display resolution (1024 x 768 or higher recommended)
Note that you can’t use UNetbootin to create a bootable USB drive. You have to either use the command line or use the Image Writer tool. To be honest as I don’t use Windows I find it easier to just install using a DVD.
The installation process itself is ok but the partitioning bit could be a bit more intuitive.
I had a fairly basic setup with a root partition, home partition and swap partition from my previous Linux install yet the openSUSE installer said that it couldn’t find a suitable plan. I then had to create a partition plan and choose my hard drive and jump through a couple more hoops before I was able to continue.
That was the only real hardship in the installation. Everything else is fairly obvious.
openSUSE has a fairly standard looking KDE interface with one shelf in the top left corner, a panel at the bottom with a menu in the left corner and system tray style icons in the bottom right.
The icons in the system tray change depending on what you have running but the standard set include an icon for the clipboard manager, audio settings, bluetooth, network management and a clock.
The menu consists of 5 tabs, menu options and a search bar.
If you want to find an application quickly and if it doesn’t appear as a favourite, enter a search term in the search bar.
The “Favourites” tab shows the software you use most often. To add an item to the “Favourites” tab, select it from the applications tab and right click. An option will appear with the text “add to favorites”.
The “applications” tab shows a list of categories and when you click on the category a list of applications appear.
The “computer” tab has options such as the Yast control center and the Yast package manager as well as the KInfoCenter, which provides information about your installation including OS version, KDE version and disk information. You can also use the “computer” tab to navigate around your system.
The “Recently” used tab shows the items you have used most recently.
The “Leave” tab has options for switching users, logging out and shutting down.
Customising the desktop
The KDE desktop is heavily customisable and can’t possibly be covered in full here.
The basic premise is as follows: Each virtual workspace is called an activity. You can switch activities by clicking on the icon with three dots next to the menu icon.
The available activities will be shown and you can switch to the activity you wish to use. You can also get to this screen by selecting the desktop option in the top right corner of the screen and choosing activities.
Now an activity can be a standard desktop like the first one you see
with a shelf on it or it can be a more traditional desktop with icons on
Other activities include a photos activity, a newspaper layout and search.
Each shelf can have panels and widgets added. For instance you can add desktop clocks, weather widgets etc.
You can change the desktop wallpaper of each activity individually by right clicking and clicking configure.
There are only a couple of desktop images available by default but by clicking “Get new wallpapers” you are able to install more.
Connecting to the internet
When you select a network for the first time you will be able to configure it by entering details such as the security key and whether you want to connect automatically.
Flash and MP3
- KMahjongg, KReversi, KSudoku, KMines and KPatience
- DNG image converter
- Exposure Blending Tools
- Digikam Photo Management
- ShowFoto Photo Viewer
- Gwenview Image Viewer
- Kopete instant messenger
- Konversation IRC client
- Choqok Microblogging Client
- KMail Mail Client
- Firefox Web Browser
- Konqueror Web Browser
- KTorrent Bittorrent
- lftp shell (FTP)
- AMZ Downloader (Amazon downloader)
- Amarok Audio Player
- K3B Disc Burning Tool
- LibreOffice Writer, Impress and Drawing
- KAddressBook – Address book
- Kontact – Personal Information Manager
- Korganizer – Personal Organiser
Now you may not have heard of all the tools listed or you haven’t seen them in action. In the next week I will be getting to grips with them and give a run down of the applications to give more of an overview.
To install applications you can either use Zypper which is a command line application along the lines of Apt or you can use Yast which is more along the lines of Synaptic.
What has changed?
The most helpful information I found about openSUSE 13.1 can be found at https://news.opensuse.org/2013/11/19/opensuse-13-1-ready-for-action/.