Why not try OpenSuSE 11.2

Jack Wallen
May 26, 2010
Updated • Dec 5, 2012

I spend much of my time here on Ghacks using and talking about Ubuntu. So much so one would think it's the only game in town. Well, it's not and I am going to spend a bit of time focusing on different distributions. The first distribution I am going to focus on is OpenSuSE. OpenSuSE is similar to what Fedora is to Red Hat Linux. In other words it's a sort of sand box for developers and users to make sure the enterprise level product (SuSE Linux) is right. And, like Fedora, OpenSuSE is a free edition. It costs nothing to download and use this distribution.

OpenSuSE 11.2 has a number of nice features and update, although you may find some of the included applications a bit behind. For example, the included GNOME in 11.2 is 2.28, whereas Ubuntu 10.04 released with GNOME 2.3. Of course OpenSuSE is due for an update itself. 11.2 was released in November 2009. The good news? 11.3 is due to be released in July, which is one of the reasons I wanted to focus on OpenSuSE first - to get everyone excited about this distribution in time for its newest release.

In this article I am going to highlight some of the things that make OpenSuSE unique and why you should give it a try.

Build it

One of the coolest aspects of OpenSuSE is the Build Service. With this service you can build your own, unique distribution based on OpenSuSE. I've done this and it works really well. I will warn you, it does take some time and you will find yourself obsessing over the smallest detail. Why? Because you can. You can decide what packages are included, you can even set the backgrounds for boot up, splash screen, and desktop wallpaper. This service alone is worth the price of admission.


Figure 1

Yet Another Setup Tool is the control center for OpenSuSE. YaST has been around for a long, long time and with good reason - it's one of the finest control centers you will find in an operating system. When you open YaST (see Figure 1) you will notice it is laid out in a two-pane layout with the left pane being categories and the right pane being category entries. You will not find a distribution with a more robust control center than YaST. I always look at YaST like the Webmin for the desktop. The 11.2 YaST even includes a system backup tool and a restoration tool. I will discuss these two tools in later articles. In some cases you will find entries in YaST that do not effect your installation. For example, the YaST I am using includes a TV card entry. I do not have a TV card. You get the idea.

A pseudo welcome screen

Take a look at Figure 1. In the only KDE plasmoid on the desktop OpenSuSE includes a link for both the OpenSuSE website as well as online help. This is as close to a "welcome screen" as you will see in a Linux distribution. I have been harping on this topic for a while now (and I will until something happens). Linux distributions need a "welcome screen" similar to what Windows offers upon first boot. This is just something that will point new users to an introduction to Linux, to their distribution, and to help. For users that don't need it, they can just uncheck a box and it won't show up again. But for new users, this is a must-have. OpenSuSE at least is smart enough to add two of these items in a KDE 4 plasmoid. Smart thinking.

Who should use OpenSuSE?

OpenSuSE is a solid Linux distribution that should be used by anyone who longs for a rock solid desktop distribution but wants to be able to tinker as much and as often as they like. Because of this, OpenSuSE opens itself up to a wide range of users - from new users to seasoned veterans. And with that build service - anyone can enjoy their very own special flavor of OpenSuSE. If you have been using Windows for a long, long time and you think it's time to migrate to Linux, download the KDE flavor of OpenSuSE. You will feel at home enough with the desktop (especially Vista/7 users) that the Land of Linux won't seem so foreign. And if you think of YaST as the Control Panel - you're good to go.

Now let's begin a little journey with OpenSuSE and discover some of it's pieces and parts.


Previous Post: «
Next Post: «


  1. Anixx said on June 13, 2010 at 11:38 pm

    I do not agree that OpenSUSE is a sandbox. At least it is not a sandbox in the same sense as Fedora and it also has better quality assurance and longer release cycle than Ubuntu (which I’d really call a sandbox).

  2. ICDeadPpl said on May 30, 2010 at 12:35 pm

    The “Build it” section in the article should have a link to SUSE Studio, http://susestudio.com/ instead, I think.

  3. lunix said on May 28, 2010 at 12:45 pm

    i try 11.2 last year. Windows partition become part of suse not usual place /dev/sda*. Package manager have some nice feature – i want install wine, opensuse preselect update openoffice.

  4. Kmilo said on May 28, 2010 at 7:30 am

    Great Distro!

    SuSE user since version 5.0 and now OpenSuse!

    We do community events around this distro,!


    Saludos desde El Salvador!

  5. Santanna said on May 28, 2010 at 3:45 am

    I love OpenSuse a long time and I use ubuntu too.

  6. Dennis Schafroth said on May 27, 2010 at 9:56 am

    I am prob. switching from Fedora to OpenSUSE, because they are some of the last still compiling to i586 CPUs, which my small boxes requires. While the hardware is old (approx 10 years), they are still low power (10 watt) and does the job.

    I think it is a stupid decision by Fedora (and Ubuntu) in order to make Atom netbooks run (up to) 1% faster. Also since the new Atoms CPUs are now 64 bit and can run the x86_64 version.

    But as long there are good alternatives.

  7. Golodh said on May 27, 2010 at 9:30 am

    I have been using OpenSuse for a long time now, for several reasons:
    – the excellent documentation
    – the way in which it isolates me as an end-user from having to do system management on the command line. I can use the command line if I have to, but that’s slow, unpleasant, and unproductive. Why? First of all I have to look up the commands I need to use, and their exact syntax. I don’t carry that sort of stuff in my head and if I make mistakes as root, the best I can hope for is that what I’m trying to do won’t work. At worst, ah well, lets not go into that, Ok? Then I have to dig a little to look for interactions and interference with existing set-ups before I start mucking about as root. In case the machine I’m working on is important I have to think about backups and reverting the changes too. Then, in case I am interacting with hardware, I need to check if that hardware properly supports Linux, and that the right drivers are loaded. Then I can type the commands I want to issue and observe the results. Thanks, but I prefer to spend my time in applications rather than with the system and I’ll take YAST any day over the command line…
    – the system has been checked in the sense that most components and packages (and practically speaking all important packages and components) work together as supplied. This is what any decent distro does, and what many fly-by-night distros do not. Suffice it to say I want nothing to do with those.
    – there is some quality control (likewise in other large distros) in applying new versions of important packages: e.g. when the now famous version 4.0 of KDE came out, all you could see on the KDE website was hype of the “Here is KDE 4.0” kind. SuSE soberly noted that KDE 4.0 wasn’t ready for production use and didn’t install it by default. I wrote them a thank-you note for that on Slashdot.
    – the way you can customise your distro using the “Build” service. Less bloat but full control.

    OpenSuSE is a good distro for people who want to use their Linux box as a tool rather than a sandbox.

  8. dutchkind said on May 27, 2010 at 8:05 am

    I use Opensuse now for years and can say it is a very pleasant to use desktop, even for advanced users, but certainly for new users. When Opensuse is installed it normally comes with a welcome screen, so that already exists. The installation is very easy and user friendly, being from livecd or the more traditional installation, both are graphical without having to enter commands or so. Just some additional thoughts to this great article.

  9. Gamaware said on May 27, 2010 at 6:44 am

    Jesus, all of the comments above are full of “trolling”, Stop it!

    The thing is that OpenSuSe ys a great Linux distro and I give this article “Thumbs Up”, because is just an introduction of what the author is going to be talking about in future posts, that includes, Live CD capability and other things.
    The great Thing about this Distro is precisely the YaST a One of a Kind tool, easy to use, and innovation for the Linux World.

    I’m taking a Strategic Management for Linux certification, and the distro we’re using is SuSe, because it’s becoming very popular on the Enterprise environment.

    So I think i will give this one a try….

    Greetings from Mexico

    1. Ricky said on May 31, 2010 at 9:17 pm

      Totally quote. Thumbs up.

    2. Bobby said on May 27, 2010 at 2:20 pm

      Ihave tried a lot of Linux distros but I keep coming back to openSuse. One of the reasons for that is YaST. YaST is a great and very powerful system tool, actually it’s the best that I have used up to now and it got quite fast these days so speed is not a problem anymore. The thing that I like about YaST is that one can make just about any system changes or adjustments graphically.
      The other main reason for me choosing openSuse is KDE. I love the KDE Desktop and openSuse happens to ship the most polished and beautiful KDE available. It’s also the first distro to release updated KDE packages.
      I personally see openSuse as one of the very best and most user friendly Linux distributions out there and the good thing is that it keeps getting better with each release.

  10. GoremanX said on May 27, 2010 at 6:25 am

    Actually Ubuntu 10.04 ships with Gnome 2.30, not 2.3.

  11. Todd H. said on May 27, 2010 at 4:27 am

    Why not try OpenSUSE? Answer: Because they are Micros$oft’s yes man. The injected proprietary code (e.g. Mono/C#) and patented software with the ensuing threats of litigation – into our free software.

    1. Bobby said on May 27, 2010 at 2:10 pm

      That’s so much lies. I am running openSuse 11.2 with KDE 4.4.3 and there is no mono installed. OpenSuse has absolutely nothing to do with Microsoft. Get your facts strait before you come here and disgrace yourself.

  12. Ronen said on May 27, 2010 at 1:26 am

    NO!! NO!!! NO!!!

    This is NOT how you introduce a Linux desktop, especially as good as openSuse to the noob “I heard about Linux but i don’t know where to start”.
    Mentioning the build service as the first thing ? OMG !!! you just scared most of the potential Window$ users who might have made the move but now think you need to rebuild and compile openSuse yourself.

    I suggest erasing the entire article and start from scratch, this time mention the LiveCD – try before installing benefit, the fact that it will work with the hardware available today, etc. etc.

  13. DanTe said on May 26, 2010 at 3:52 pm

    “Why not try OpenSuSE 11.2” or any other linux? Because I’m a lazy S.O.B.

    People in the Linux community consistently fail to understand that people stick with Windows because it’s idiot easy to set up. With Linux, you need to learn “root” et al. And the security settings is a nightmare maze for anyone less than a geek with a lot of time on their hands.

    Type up a simple to follow step-by-step set up guide, and there will be more people using Linux. And I mean SIMPLE step-by-step guide. Like, include: click on the [A] key than the [B] key; or insert CD and type “setup” or whatever command needed to start the CD in linux; et al.

    The guides online now all digress into the whichness of why of a command. Just give the stupid command and than the next step. The whichness of why can be a hyper link for when people really want to delve into it.

  14. jeira said on May 26, 2010 at 3:06 pm

    the new mint has a welcome screen

    1. Scanner software said on May 27, 2010 at 2:30 pm

      Cant understand any… Bit confused.

Leave a Reply

Check the box to consent to your data being stored in line with the guidelines set out in our privacy policy

We love comments and welcome thoughtful and civilized discussion. Rudeness and personal attacks will not be tolerated. Please stay on-topic.
Please note that your comment may not appear immediately after you post it.