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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
A confirmation dialog will pop up. Go ahead and click the Install button one more time.
Installation is underway
Okay, great job! openSUSE is installing to hard disk, and it ought not take very long to complete.
The openSUSE login screen
When installation has completed, the system will restart, and upon reboot you will discover this 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.
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.
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.
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.
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
We’re done, here
Thanks for following along, and good luck!