Like most distributions of Linux, openSUSE is ready to work right away, but there is an extra step required to bring full multimedia support to the system. This is not a software issue, but rather a legal one. openSUSE is an open source product. That means that anyone is free to download it, modify it, resell it, use it for fun or profit, and never has to pay anyone a dime in license fees. The freedoms implicit in open source software do not exist in proprietary software, and many of the media types that we as consumers have grown accustomed to using are in fact copyrighted or patented technologies.
This article will show you how to bring your newly installed openSUSE Leap 42.2 operating system up to a level of usability that Mac and Windows users expect from a replacement desktop system. Along the way, you will learn more about your openSUSE system, and how to make further modifications to it. The modifications shown in this article reflect what I presume to be the choices that most people would make for themselves.
A freshly-installed openSUSE Leap 42.2. If you have not yet installed openSUSE, I have written an article demonstrating how to do it.
At the end of the tutorial demonstrating how to download and install openSUSE, we rebooted our systems. We’re going to pick up where we left off with a newly installed, updated, and then rebooted openSUSE Leap 42.2.
The desktop has a taskbar on the bottom, and on the left end of it there is an application menu, in very much the same place Windows users might expect to find one. Click on the chameleon icon, then select System -> YaST from the flyout menu.
You will be required to supply your password in order to access the YaST application.
The YaST app window. YaST (Yet Another Setup Tool) is a suite of tools that help you to setup and manage openSUSE. Sometimes you will use your terminal to perform configuration tasks, and sometimes you will use YaST.
Include additional software repositories
Before installing new software, you must first add to the package manager a couple of repositories that are not included by default. Click the Software Repositories icon, and then click the Add button.
Select the Community Repositories option from the list, then click the Next button.
You will definitely want to select both Packman Repository and Libdvdcss Repository, and if you have an nVidia graphics card, you may want to select that one, too. Click the OK button when you’re ready.
Each repository is contacted, and its public key fetched for the secure verification of downloads. You will be asked to import a key for each repository you’ve added to the package manager. In each case, click the Trust button to proceed.
You’ll find the new repositories in the list of subscriptions. Click the OK button to close this applet.
Enable a keyboard shortcut to open the terminal
For some reason, the openSUSE desktop does not have keyboard hotkeys enabled by default. What we want is to be able to use the keyboard combination Ctrl-Alt-T to open up a terminal window, and in order to enable that functionality, we must take a detour through the System Settings app, which you can find by clicking on the application menu, and then selecting Settings -> Configure Desktop.
You’ve opened the System Settings panel for the desktop environment. This is a suite of tools that you can use to change the look and feel of your system. Explore these tools at your leisure, but we have a mission to complete just now. Locate and click on the Shortcuts icon.
Expand the applet window and click the Custom Shortcuts icon at the bottom of the menu on the left side of the window. Check the box to the right of Examples, and then the box to the right of the item Run Konsole. Konsole is the name of the terminal emulator that comes with the KDE Plasma desktop environment. Now click the Apply button in the bottom right corner of the window, and then you may close the System Settings app.
Change the appearance of the terminal
Let’s now use Ctrl-Alt-T, the keyboard combination you just enabled, to open the terminal.
In my opinion, this looks bad. The font face and tiny font size are a baffling default choice. I want to change the default settings so that the terminal is easier on my curmudgeonly eyes. If you want to change your settings, click Settings on the menu bar, then select Manage Profiles… from the menu.
There is only one profile defined, currently: Root Shell. Click the Edit Profile… button to the right of the selected profile.
I’ve changed the name from Root Shell to Shell, and I’m going to delete the value in the Command input, “su -“.
I also want to change that annoying red icon into something less needful of attention. When I click on it, this dialog appears. I enter the following into the Search input:
There’s a friendly, black icon. I click on it to select it.
I am almost finished, here. I go ahead and click the Appearance tab.
This is where you can change the color scheme used by the terminal. Personally, I like to just reverse the scheme, so I select “Black on White” from the list of presets. Text size can be changed using the Text size control, so I will use it to increase the font size to 10px. I click the OK button to apply the changes and close the dialog window.
Now I have finished modifying the appearance of the terminal. With the Shell profile selected, I will click the Set as Default button, and then finally, click the OK button to finish.
I have defined the default profile. I switch over to the default profile by selecting Settings -> Switch Profile, and then selecting Default profile from the list.
And here it is, with changes applied. Now I am willing to use this terminal app.
Install the needed software
We’re going to install VLC and use it instead of the default gstreamer for our multimedia pleasure, supplemented by ffmpeg, which is useful for converting media files from one file type to another. In addition, various multimedia codecs will be installed, to allow playback of more digital media formats.
Before we do that, however, let’s finish what we started when we added the additional software repositories, earlier. Enter the following command, and respond to any prompts, in order to make sure the software we download comes from the Packman repos:
sudo zypper dup --from packman.inode.at-suse
Paste the following command into the terminal window.
sudo zypper install vlc vlc-qt vlc-codecs k3b-codecs ffmpeg lame phonon-backend-vlc phonon4qt5-backend-vlc unrar
Your password will be required.
When it is finished, there is a little bit of software that we want to remove, since the changes that we made rendered them useless. Paste the following command into the terminal and press the Enter key.
sudo zypper remove phonon-backend-gstreamer phonon4qt5-backend-gstreamer
You will be required to confirm the operation. Enter “y” into the terminal and press the Enter key.
Use GnuPG to install a new private/public keypair for strong encryption support
It’s not only a good idea, it’s a practical necessity if you’re going to install Google Chrome and log in with it to your various Google apps. The Google Chrome browser is one of many modern applications that support the use of PGP encryption.
To install the keypair, enter the following command into the terminal:
The interactive wizard will lead you through the process, and it looks like the following:
[This new section will be finished later.]
Install Google Chrome web browser
Download Google’s public signing key with the following command:
Import the key into the package manager:
sudo rpm --import linux_signing_key.pub
Next, add the Google Chrome repository using the following command:
sudo zypper ar http://dl.google.com/linux/chrome/rpm/stable/x86_64 Google-Chrome
Having added the new repo, refresh the system’s software indexes using the following command:
sudo zypper ref
Finally, install Chrome:
sudo zypper in google-chrome-stable
When asked whether to continue downloading dependencies, enter “y” into the terminal and press the Enter key.
When the installation is complete, you can open Chrome by clicking the application menu and then selecting Internet -> Google Chrome.
Installing new, recommended software
If you have an nVidia graphics card and you added the nVidia repository at the beginning of this tutorial, then one way you can install those drivers now is to enter the following command into the terminal and press the Enter key.
sudo zypper inr
This command is shorthand for “install-new-recommends”, and it may include additional software based upon the software that we installed earlier in this tutorial. Follow the instructions as they appear in the terminal output.
Get rid of the lock screen
The lock screen function is useful, but I do not use it personally, at home. Nor do I like the screen to automatically go black after only a short period of inactivity. By default, openSUSE’s screen goes black relatively quickly, and it also has a lock screen, so that you must enter your password again once the screen goes dark in order to get back to the desktop.
Open the application menu and select Settings -> Configure Desktop to open the System Settings app.
Click on the Desktop Behavior icon.
Click the Screen Locking icon on the left side of the app window, then unselect “Lock screen automatically after” and “Lock screen on resume”. When you are finished, click the Apply button in the bottom right corner of the app window.
Click “All Settings” in the top left corner of the app window to return to the main screen, then scroll down and click the Power Management icon near the bottom of the app window.
Rather than turn off the Energy Saving feature entirely, I simply increase the number of minutes that must elapse before the feature turns off the screen. I change the value to 200 minutes, because that’s how I roll. Click the Apply button in the bottom right corner of the app window, and then close the app entirely.
Where to go from here
Here are two guides to get you started, and good luck!