Ubuntu is a new kid on the block, next to openSUSE, though Ubuntu is derived from Debian Linux, a venerable, founding distro. SuSE is another founding distro, and has served me well for 14 years or so. The SuSE distro was bought by Novell years ago, and they have graciously helped to maintain the open source branch, now called openSUSE. openSUSE itself comes in two flavors. The first, code-named “Tumbleweed”, is a rolling update branch, constantly turning over older packages of software for newer versions. This kind of dynamically-changing software environment is a good fit for some developers, but openSUSE also comes in a more stable branch, code-named “Leap”, that attempts to achieve the sweet-spot of stability combined with cutting-edge updates.

openSUSE Leap makes an excellent workstation or personal computing platform, and since it uses the KDE Plasma desktop environment, it looks and feels familiar to users of Windows PCs, particularly. You can download openSUSE Leap 42.2 here. Download the .iso disk image and use disk writing software to write it to a blank DVD, or simply copy it to a bootable USB device.

Requirements

A PC or a virtual machine – openSUSE will run on standard PC hardware. Even an older PC that used to run Windows XP can run openSUSE, as long as it meets the following specifications:

  • Pentium* 4 1.6 GHz or higher processor (Pentium 4 2.4 GHz or higher or any AMD64 or Intel64 processor recommended)
  • Main memory: 1 GB physical RAM (2 GB recommended)
  • Hard disk: 3 GB available disk space for a minimal install, 5 GB available for a graphical desktop (more recommended) -[Applebiter.com recommends a minimum of 25 GB for a properly-functioning desktop system.]
  • Sound and graphics cards: supports most modern sound and graphics cards, 800 x 600 display resolution (1024 x 768 or higher recommended)
  • Booting from DVD drive or USB-Stick for installation, or support for booting over network (you need to setup PXE by yourself, look also at PXE boot installation) or an existing installation of openSUSE, more information at Installation without CD

 

Boot from the installation media

When this menu loads, you only have a few seconds to use your keyboard arrow keys to select an option before the system boots from the hard disk by default. Select the “Installation” option and press the Enter key on your keyboard.

boot menu
Use your keyboard arrow keys to select Installation from the boot menu

 

Language, keyboard layout & the EULA

If you’re reading this article, you will probably accept the default language and keyboard settings, as I did, although you do have the ability to choose something different. When you are finished reviewing the End User License Agreement, click the Next button to proceed.

eula
Clicking the Next button indicates that you have read and agree to the terms of the End User License Agreement

 

Installation options

openSUSE provides a way to use custom software repositories during installation. Most users will not need to use this feature, and may safely choose to skip it. When you are ready, click the Next button to continue.

custom repos
openSUSE allows the use of custom software repositories during installation

 

Disk partitioning

Unless you know what you are doing and have a good reason to change the default settings, it is best to allow the installer to craft a partition plan for your system. When you are ready, click the Next button.

automatic partitioning
The automatic partitioning plan looks busy, but its purpose is to contain disk errors, when they occur

 

Select your time zone

openSUSE needs to know where in the world you live, roughly speaking. When you are ready, click the Next button to proceed.

time zone
Select your time zone

 

Choose your preferred desktop

openSUSE is unique in allowing the user to choose among several desktop environments in one installer. By default, the KDE Plasma desktop is selected, and it is a good choice for most users. When ready to continue, click the Next button.

desktop selection
openSUSE is unique in allowing the user to choose a preferred desktop environment in one installer

 

Create a user profile

The user that you define here will be an administrative user, able to issue commands requiring root privileges. When you are finished, click the Next button.

user creation
Define an administrative user on the openSUSE system

 

Review the installation plan

openSUSE is now ready to install your system, and presents the installation plan for your review. The defaults are fine, let’s leave everything as it is and click the Install button.

settings
Presenting the installation plan, pending your approval

A confirmation dialog will pop up. Go ahead and click the Install button one more time.

confirmation
Confirm the installation plan

 

Installation is underway

Okay, great job! openSUSE is installing to hard disk, and it ought not take very long to complete.

installation
openSUSE is installing to hard disk

 

The openSUSE login screen

When installation has completed, the system will restart, and upon reboot you will discover this login screen.

login
The openSUSE login screen

 

The openSUSE desktop

Once you have logged in, former and current Windows users will find a rather familiar kind of layout, with a taskbar running along the bottom of the screen, and a Start Menu over on the far left end of it.

desktop
The openSUSE desktop after logging in the first time

 

Updating openSUSE from the terminal

As with Ubuntu, and any other distro of Linux, the terminal is a fundamental tool, and usually the most powerful and efficient interface for certain, system-based operations, like updating system software. Let’s locate the terminal from the Start Menu and open it up. Start by clicking the Start button, represented by a chameleon’s head in a circle on the left end of the taskbar. When the menu pops up, hover over System for that submenu to appear, and then select Konsole from the list of available applications.

flyout
The KDE menu works very much like ye olde Windows Start button and flyout menu

Where Ubuntu use the APT package manager, openSUSE uses zypper, a powerful command-line software package manager. Enter the following command into Konsole and press the Enter key on your keyboard:

sudo zypper up

What we just did was tell zypper to update the system software. You could actually use the word “update” in the command above instead of the shorthanded “up”. You’ll notice that the command zypper is prefaced with the magic word “sudo”. The word sudo means that you want to perform a task that requires root permissions. When you use the word sudo, the system first makes sure that you are an administrative user, and then goes ahead and asks for your password if you haven’t provided it for zypper, yet.

zypper up
Update the system using the zypper command-line tool

Because this is the first time you have run zypper to update the system, you will find there are a lot of updates to download and install. Go ahead and type “y” into the console when you are asked to confirm the downloading and installation of updates, and press the Enter key on your keyboard.

confirmation
The first time you run zypper updates, there are going to be a whole lot of updates

 

Reboot the system

When the updates have finished installing, it will be necessary to reboot the system. Here are two commands that accomplish the same thing:

sudo shutdown -r now

…and the simpler

sudo reboot
reboot
When updates to the kernel are installed, it is best to reboot the system

 

We’re done, here

Thanks for following along, and good luck!

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