Showing posts with label OpenSUSE. Show all posts
Showing posts with label OpenSUSE. Show all posts

Saturday, 3 December 2011

Tutorial - Recompiling Freetype with the patented auto hinter enabled in openSUSE 12.1

Here is a great little exercise that will teach you how to recompile the freetype package in openSUSE 12.1 and enable the patented auto hinter for better looking fonts.

Start by opening a terminal.

Install required packages such as gcc and zlib-devel

su -c 'zypper install gcc zlib-devel patch'

Change to your Downloads folder

cd Downloads

We are going to download the freetype source rpm package from the openSUSE servers.


At the time of writing 2.4.7-1.2 was the current available version.

Install the source package locally

rpm -ivh freetype2-2.4.7-1.2.src.rpm

A new folder will be created in your home directory called rpmbuild.

cd ~/rpmbuild/SPECS

We need to edit the freetype2.spec file so it compiles with the auto hinter enabled.

kwrite freetype2.spec

Scroll down to line 80 and change %define enable_subpixel_rendering to %define enable_subpixel_rendering 1

Save and exit

It is now time to compile our modified freetype package, which should not take very long.

rpmbuild -bb freetype2.spec

Once the package has been successfully compiled, it will be located in the rpmbuild/RPMS/x86_64 or rpmbuild/RPMS/x86 folder.

To install your modified freetype package,

cd ~/rpmbuild/RPMS/$(arch)

su -c 'zypper install --force libfreetype6-2.4.7-1.2.$(arch).rpm'

You have now installed your modified freetype package, reboot your machine to see the difference.

Important Note:

Installing your modified freetype package will overwrite the existing freetype package that has the patented code disabled. However, should openSUSE install an update to freetype it will overwrite your modified freetype package.

Sunday, 20 November 2011

How I enable restricted multimedia in openSUSE 12.1 KDE

Given that openSUSE 12.1 KDE uses the Gstreamer phonon backend by default, for better multimedia support it makes sense to install just the additional gstreamer plugins as oppose to installing every other multimedia framework known to man kind such as Xine and VLC on top of Gstreamer.

Of course you are free to do as you please but I prefer to keep things to a minimal.

To make openSUSE 12.1 more enjoyable I install a few gstreamer plugins from the Packman repository and some additional packages for K3b.

However, my plan for world domination is ruined by the decision to include Kaffeine as the default media player in openSUSE 12.1 KDE. Unfortunately Kaffeine requires Xine things to function properly :(

So over to plan B, remove Kaffeine and replace it with Dragon Player which is happy to work with any phonon backend such as Gstreamer or VLC.

Enough of the rambling...

Enable the Packman repository

Head over to and you will see a nice list of mirrors. When using YaST to add the community repository it adds a mirror from Germany. But my precious bandwidth is important so picking a mirror closer to home improves efficiency.

After picking a mirror closer to home, its time for the terminal.

su -c 'zypper addrepo --refresh Packman'

With the Packman repository up and running, I now install the good stuff.

su -c 'zypper remove k3b kaffeine && zypper install gstreamer-0_10-ffmpeg gstreamer-0_10-fluendo-mp3 gstreamer-0_10-plugins-bad gstreamer-0_10-plugins-good-extra gstreamer-0_10-plugins-ugly transcode k3b-codecs normalize dragonplayer gstreamer-0_10-plugins-bad-orig-addon gstreamer-0_10-plugins-ugly-orig-addon'

If you analyse the above, you will see that K3b is removed. I do this to avoid zypper complaining about a vendor conflict. With the openSUSE version out of the way the k3b-codecs package will pull in the Packman version of K3b without zypper complaining.

And that's what I do.

Thursday, 17 November 2011

How to install the Nvidia drivers manually in openSUSE 12.1

The steps to install the Nvidia driver in openSUSE 12.1 is identical to the previous release, openSUSE 11.4. See this link for 11.4

This guide uses the terminal and wget command to download the Nvidia driver to your /home/username/Downloads folder. You may use your web browser although I suggest keeping the Nvidia driver in your Downloads folder as it may be useful at a later date.

Please note the current latest driver 285.05.09 does not support GeForce 5 Series or older. Such users will need to use the legacy drivers instead.

For a list of supported devices see here -

1. Start

Open a terminal

2. Install required packages

su -c 'zypper install gcc make kernel-devel'

3. Prevent the nouveau driver from loading

su -c 'echo "blacklist nouveau" > /etc/modprobe.d/nvidia.conf'

Please copy and paste the below as one line, you may have to press enter

su -c '# recreate initrd without KMS, if the use of KMS is enabled in initrd
if grep -q NO_KMS_IN_INITRD=\"no\" /etc/sysconfig/kernel; then
   sed -i 's/NO_KMS_IN_INITRD.*/NO_KMS_IN_INITRD="yes"/g' /etc/sysconfig/kernel

4. Download the Nvidia driver 

(64-bit users)

cd Downloads


(32-bit users)

cd Downloads


5. Reboot your system into run level 3

At the openSUSE boot screen make sure your Kernel entry is selected, type the number 3 as illustrated in the screenshot and press enter.

This will cause openSUSE to boot to a console terminal, login using your normal user details.

6. Install the Nvidia driver

(64-bit users)

cd Downloads
su -c 'sh -a -q'

(32-bit users)

cd Downloads

su -c ' -a -q'

7. Once the installer has completed, reboot your system

su -c 'reboot'

Remember that every time your Kernel is updated you will need to rebuild the Nvidia Kernel module.

8. Rebuilding the Nvidia module after a Kernel update

Boot into run level 3 as described above, login using your normal user details,

(64-bit users)

cd Downloads

su -c 'sh -K'

(32-bit users)

cd Downloads

su -c 'sh -K'

Then reboot your system.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

openSUSE 12.1 - Just released and seems to be working?

I am sure you have seen the default openSUSE 12.1 KDE Desktop, so here is a different one.

I remember when openSUSE 11.4 was released and that was probably the most broken release in their history. So broken that I decided there and then that I would be dumping openSUSE for good.

To date I have stuck to my words but for the past few months there have been significant developments in the world of Linux desktop environments. Yes, Gnome (S)hell and Unity.

Those developments have left me with a big problem, long term wise what Linux distribution should I use?

The first step in addressing this problem is to identify what Desktop Environment is available to suit my needs and right now KDE looks promising. I was impressed with Fedora's implementation of KDE in F15, even with Kubuntu 11.04 but both suffer from the occasional quirk. With Fedora being what it is, I can understand the odd quirk but Kubuntu needs to try harder.

Fast forward to Fedora 16 KDE and Kubuntu 11.10, I am finding F16 just too unreliable. You know when a distribution is unreliable when you have to hit the reset button on your PC.

Kubuntu 11.10, feels a little sluggish and rough in a few places but is at least usable.

At some point before F16 and Kubuntu 11.10 I came across Mandriva 2011, I like what they have done with KDE but usability wise they need to make it more reliable. Perhaps when they release their LTS version by the end of the year things will be better.

Hold on, who are you trying to kid, it's French. But the Russians now have their hands on it. (Perhaps not then)

There are of course many more KDE distributions out there but I cant be bothered to try everything. At the end of the day I want something that works, is easy to setup and has good support.

So the quest continues or do I eat my own words and give openSUSE another chance?

I am currently running it from a Live USB, inital observations are that it is quite nippy, probably due to their desktop kernel tweaks. The Live CD / USB also comes with useful software such as Firefox, LibreOffice and GIMP which makes it a better option over Fedora and Kubuntu.

I think for now I will just continue to monitor the forums and internet as I need my system for some important work. On that note if you are wondering what operating system I am using for this important work, Ubuntu 10.04 LTS.

Monday, 23 May 2011

What Nils Brauckmann didn't say, for SUSE to grow openSUSE must shrink

In a recent press announcement (see here) the new President and General Manager of SUSE, Nils Brauckmann stated,

"By operating SUSE as a separate business unit focused on the Linux marketplace, we can accelerate our delivery of high-value Linux solutions that help organizations enhance growth, reduce costs, tame complexity and spur innovation,"


"Now we are sharpening our focus on making SUSE Linux Enterprise the preeminent Linux distribution across physical, virtual and cloud environments."

Makes sense, but keep reading.

"I am thrilled to lead this business and team in our pursuit of providing comprehensive Linux solutions that solve real problems for IT and the line of business. With a laser focus on making SUSE successful, we are committed to the products and services that our customers and partners rely on to run their businesses.

Moreover, we recognize and celebrate the value of the openSUSE Project and will remain a strong supporter of the openSUSE community," said Brauckmann.

"We reiterate our long-term commitment to the open source communities at the heart of our ecosystem. Our presence in these communities will help our customers benefit from the rich value of Linux, while encouraging the collaboration that has made Linux the foundation of so many computing environments today."

I have broken the last statement into 3 paragraphs to make things easier to understand.

The action taken by Attachmate so far implies they want to make SUSE a strong and successful competitor, splitting it from Novell, dropping Mono, as Nils stated they want to sharpen their focus on SUSE.

But how can SUSE be successful or maximize its revenue when its strongest competing product is openSUSE?

openSUSE is more than a community project, it is a strong and free alternative to SUSE Enterprise and for that reason those who are interpreting the last statement (I have broken into three) as saying SUSE will continue to support the openSUSE project with the same commitment as Novell could be in for a shock.

A strong supporter but not strong contributor??

Even bearing in mind the last paragraph,

"We reiterate our long-term commitment to the open source communities at the heart of our ecosystem. Our presence in these communities will help our customers benefit from the rich value of Linux, while encouraging the collaboration that has made Linux the foundation of so many computing environments today."

This does not necessarily mean or imply openSUSE, submitting code or patches related to SUSE products upstream is capable of achieving Nils community commitment. In fact when Nils was referring to the open source communities at the heart of our ecosystem, you would be foolish to think that he was referring to openSUSE.

Looking back at Novell/SUSE and their commitment to the openSUSE project, it was a bad business mistake. They effectively provided potential customers with a free alternative. How stupid is that.

They should have adopted a similar approach to RedHat / Fedora. Fedora as a product is not even capable of competing with RedHat's commercial offerings. Not only was this a wise business decision but an intelligent one.

If Nils really is committed to making SUSE a success, openSUSE must be crippled or changed into a non competing product.

Despite Novell's poor attempts to play down openSUSE many continue to deploy openSUSE in a business/corporate environment.

Even openSUSE Ambassador Carl Fletcher, who is also a Novell Knowledge Partner and has written articles for Linux Format Magazine is of the view that

"If it works with SLED, You can expect openSUSE to work reasonably well if not perfectly."

It is common knowledge within the Linux community and IT Professionals that openSUSE is a more than capable product, therefore if Nils wants the SUSE business to grow and succeed, he has to shrink openSUSE.

In its current state openSUSE is too close to SUSE Enterprise and as a result bad for revenue.

Thursday, 19 May 2011

openSUSE 11.4 - How to install Nvidia drivers manually

There is a tendency to refer to the manual method of installing Nvidia drivers as the hard way. If you repeat something often enough, it still doesn't make it true.

There is nothing hard about installing the drivers manually.

This guide uses the terminal and wget command to download the Nvidia driver to your /home/username/Downloads folder. You may if you wish use your web browser although I suggest keeping the Nvidia driver in your Downloads folder as it may be useful at a later date.

Please note the current latest driver 270.41.06 does not support GeForce 5 Series or older. Such users will need to use the legacy drivers instead.

For a list of supported devices see here -

1. Start

Open a terminal

2. Install required packages

su -c 'zypper install gcc make kernel-devel'

3. Prevent the nouveau driver from loading

su -c 'echo "blacklist nouveau" > /etc/modprobe.d/nvidia.conf'

Please copy and paste the below as one line, you may have to press enter

su -c '# recreate initrd without KMS, if the use of KMS is enabled in initrd
if grep -q NO_KMS_IN_INITRD=\"no\" /etc/sysconfig/kernel; then
   sed -i 's/NO_KMS_IN_INITRD.*/NO_KMS_IN_INITRD="yes"/g' /etc/sysconfig/kernel

4. Download the Nvidia driver 

(64-bit users)

cd Downloads


(32-bit users)

cd Downloads


5. Reboot your system into run level 3

At the openSUSE boot screen make sure your Kernel entry is selected, type the number 3 as illustrated in the screenshot and press enter.

This will cause openSUSE to boot to a console terminal, login using your normal user details.

6. Install the Nvidia driver

(64-bit users)

cd Downloads
su -c 'sh -a -q'

(32-bit users)

cd Downloads

su -c ' -q'

7. Once the installer has completed, reboot your system

su -c 'reboot'

Remember that every time your Kernel is updated you will need to rebuild the Nvidia Kernel module.

8. Rebuilding the Nvidia module after a Kernel update

Boot into run level 3 as described above, login using your normal user details,

(64-bit users)

cd Downloads

su -c 'sh -K'

(32-bit users)

cd Downloads

su -c 'sh -K'

Then reboot your system.

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Fedora and Gnome 3, Ubuntu and Unity, will openSUSE and KDE benefit?

Right now it seems like some of the top Linux distributions such as Fedora and Ubuntu are heading down a slippery slope.

Fedora 15 will be based on Gnome 3, it is still early days for the Gnome 3 project and over time I am confident it will get better but many (including myself) feel its not ready for use.

I believe the simplicity of Gnome 2.x is what made it a success, the main menu bar provided a quick and efficient method of accessing your applications / system settings. The ability to minimize to a panel also provided users with a quick and efficient method of accessing minimized programs and by its very nature visually indicated that a program has been minimized.

Gnome 3 on the other hand doesn’t really have a place to minimize applications to and should you use the gnome tweak tool to enable the minimize button to application windows, applications disappear (not minimize) to the activities tab leaving the user with no apparent visual indicator that an application has been banished (minimised) to the activities tab.

Accessing or viewing applications in Gnome 3 generally requires use of the activities tab where you can either browse through all your applications or search for an application. Unfortunately the Gnome 2.x method of using the main menu (a concept featured in all major operating systems) is still a quicker and more efficient method of accessing your applications. The search function works effectively, although it doesn't help if you don't know what you are searching for.

There is also space in the activities tab to place some of your favorite applications in a dock like fashion which will certainly mitigate some of the inefficiency caused by the method of browsing through or searching for applications, but some will always find it a slight annoyance since you have to invoke the activities tab to view it.

People moved away from the command line and into graphical user interfaces because it made doing things easier and quicker, the current implementation of Gnome 3 compared to Gnome 2.x therefore seems like a step in the wrong direction.

However, visually speaking Gnome 3 looks very modern and stylish.

With Fedora being a project that aims to lead the advancement of FOSS the decision to include bleeding edge software and the latest developments such as Gnome 3 is the right decision and inline with the project goals.

Fedora users will be familiar with the possibility that the latest and greatest can sometimes have a detrimental consequence and for many Gnome 3 is no exception. But the sad reality in this instance is for many Fedora users Gnome 3 is unworkable.

So what will these users do? 

I expect many to hop over to another distro that still features Gnome 2.x and come back at a later date providing Gnome 3 has improved. Alternatively, Fedora does have a few other spins but Fedora at heart has always been a Gnome distribution and the majority of its users Gnome users.

What about Ubuntu?

Taking a look at Ubuntu presents a similar situation. Canonical Ltd have recognized that Gnome 3 is not quite ready for the Ubuntu user base and their solution is Unity. Ubuntu 11.04 features the new Unity desktop from Canonical Ltd which is currently a mish mash of Gnome 2.x and Compiz.

Just like Gnome 3, some users like it and others hate it. Quite clearly Unity is not a finished product and I cannot understand why it was decided to make Unity the default desktop in Ubuntu 11.04.

Some users feel Unity is easy to use and if you rarely ever have to go beyond the dock that stands to follow but just like Gnome 3 it also lacks the application menu as featured in Gnome 2.x. A poor decision.

Instead you can view all applications by using the applications tab or the search function, this is the same as Gnome 3.

The simplicity Gnome 2.x provided Ubuntu users has been lost with Unity, the very simplicity that made Ubuntu easier to use.

Personally I think Unity for Ubuntu is a lost cause. There is nothing wrong with trying out new ideas and I give credit to Canonical Ltd for trying but those who are not good at using computers or those who find slick looking 3D GUI's complicated and hard to navigate will not appreciate Unity.

I feel Canonical Ltd have over looked how the simplicity of Gnome 2.x contributed to making Ubuntu easy to use.

So what now for Ubuntu and Fedora users?

If you are one of those users who likes to have the latest version of a distribution the future may be looking quite grim. It has been confirmed that Ubuntu 11.10 will not feature a classic Gnome 2.x interface and future versions of Fedora will have Gnome 3.

Looking ahead, Unity in Ubuntu 11.10 and Gnome 3 in Fedora 16 may be a completely different experience from what we are seeing right now but nothing is for certain. Therefore due to that uncertainty some users may go about looking for another distribution that doesn't use Gnome 3 or is not Ubuntu with Unity.

The quest for another distribution will inevitably spark interest in some of the other desktop environments available and speaking of desktop environments, is there anything worth mentioning over KDE 4.6.x?

Will openSUSE therefore benefit?

With the recent acquisition of Novell by Attachmate now complete, SUSE has been split away from Novell and will be established as its own corporate entity. A positive step in the right direction for SUSE and the openSUSE project.

Despite my own reasons for putting openSUSE behind me, it has the best implementation of KDE 4.6 (although I maintain the view if you have the time and patience, Gentoo with KDE is better) and a powerful system management application called YaST which makes administering your system easy (or at least in some instances that is the idea).

Since the release of KDE 4.6 things have been looking very good for KDE and given openSUSE is a strong KDE distribution with many KDE developers behind it, if you are looking for a solid and usable desktop environment KDE 4.6.x (in other words openSUSE 11.4) is a great choice.

The openSUSE project could do with more users, so if you are looking to try something different openSUSE is definitely worth considering.

Its funny how things can change in just a few months,  not so long ago I would have been quite happy to recommend Ubuntu or Fedora but with current developments this is no longer the case.

And not so long ago I was voicing my annoyance with openSUSE 11.4 but believe me, its nothing compared to Unity and Gnome 3.

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Long time openSUSE user vents frustration with 11.4 mess

If you have been monitoring the openSUSE forums, 11.4 has caused a high number of problems compared to previous releases. News posted by openSUSE suggest more people downloaded openSUSE 11.4 compared to 11.3, so perhaps we could conclude the higher number of reported problems are a consequence of that.

Or we could conclude the news posted is very misleading and unreliable.

openSUSE 11.4 made a splash

A total of 90844 requests for ISOs were reached via our download redirector at during the first 24 hours, a nice bump compared to 49599 for openSUSE 11.3! Note that we can not count who accessed a mirror directly instead of using the redirector on, so there are more downloads than that. Moreover, we have been emphasizing the possibility of upgrading openSUSE 11.3 over the web instead of by downloading an ISO and these are not tracked either.

It counts requests for ISO's but perhaps more people resorted to downloading 11.3 via BitTorrent. They further state they are unable to monitor direct mirror downloads and conclude downloads of 11.4 are therefore higher.

But given that very fact, we could also say the figure quoted for 11.3 downloads should also be much higher, and / or more people went directly to a download mirror with concern to 11.3

Did more people download 11.4 or is someone trying to play the numbers game?

Jos Poortvliet, as a Community Manager you should be more truthful. Try and gain our trust, not spin us with crap.

Regardless of whether or not more people are using openSUSE 11.4 compared to 11.3, the forums are being overwhelmed with problems concerning 11.4. Some people couldn't really care but is this an indication that the openSUSE project is starting to crack?

Interestingly a long time and what appears to be a committed openSUSE user has vented his frustrations about 11.4.

11.4--someone in Novell, Attachmate, or

imho, someone in Novell, Attachmate, or influential with the board of openSUSE or the Community in general should grab up a bunch of developers and force them (since most have sworn to *never* come here) to look at the pandemonium caused when 11.4 is hyped to the unwashed masses and then delivered as broken as it is..

i remember lots of discussions about a new openSUSE Strategy, but i do not remember a single time anyone proposed causing the level of despair among Windows and other Linux distro users (and even LOTs of long time SuSE/SUSE/openSUSE users) who RAN here for the magic we sold....

sure, some folks are very very happy, and i'm sure there are lots and lots of happy folks we are not hearing from in the forum...but, wow!
the number and level of problems thrown up by 11.4 is really amazing...i don't think i've seen this level before....well, maybe 11.0 was close...

trouble is i do not feel any better after that..
and, THAT is a problem..
a problem for me to deal with, somehow.


For examples of hype just browse the openSUSE news articles. As well as the above news post relating to the download statistics others include,

openSUSE 11.4 and KDE

openSUSE is the home of many KDE developers and contributors, which shows in the polished KDE products and the latest KDE updates which we make available for all supported openSUSE release


openSUSE 11.4 – A New Hallmark For The openSUSE Project

We are proud to announce the launch of 11.4 in the openSUSE tradition of delivering the latest technology while maintaining stability.....

The openSUSE Project is a worldwide community that promotes the use of Linux everywhere. It creates one of the world’s best Linux distributions....

What we have here is a proud loyal user watching the mess and wondering what happened to the stable, polish and usable qualities openSUSE once had?

Its not just forum users that are noticing the lack of polish with openSUSE, take for instance Linux enthusiast Chema Marti who recently blogged,

OpenSUSE 11.4 Review

Let me be clear here: I can't recall testing a major distro release with as many issues as OpenSUSE 11.4. Hardware support problems, application installation issues, lack of stability and consistency... It's taken me many hours just to get some basic things working.

He is right, I can't either. (Good review by the way)

Jos Poortvliet was quick to bark openSUSE is for people who want to get things done but it certainly isn't looking that way.

With all the drama surrounding Novell / Attachmate and worries that openSUSE may die you would expect a decent effort to make 11.4 successful from the outset. An effort to restore and boost confidence within the openSUSE community and outside observers.

Granted there will always be problems just after release but 11.4 has stepped over the mark this time. It is full of problems.

In other news,

Novell, Attachmate Acquisition Delayed until April

Article date: Mon, 14 Mar 2011 09:46 GMT

Novell has confirmed that the Department of Justice (DoJ) investigation into the sale of patents to the Microsoft-founded CPTN Holdings will delay the company's acquisition by Attachmate until at least 12 April.

The news came in an 8K filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in the US. CPTN Holdings was created by a consortium of companies, including Microsoft, Apple, Oracle and EMC, to purchase Novell's patent portfolio for $450M, as part of the deal which would see Attachmate purchase Novell for $2.2 billion.

A second request for information from Novell was made in February after the OSI and FSF asked the Department of Justice to intervene over the effect that the purchase of the patents could have on free and open source software developers and vendors.

It is unclear whether the DoJ is investigating that issue or examining other patent issues, such as WordPerfect related patents.

Novell says in its 8K that it and CPTN "certified as to its substantial compliance" with the second request and have agreed to not attempt to close the patent sale until 12 April.

The Attachmate acquisition is dependent on the patent sale going ahead and the patent sale itself will also require antitrust approval in Germany.

Looks like openSUSE 11.4 is an accurate reflection of Novell's current business affairs, a mess.

Thursday, 10 March 2011

openSUSE 11.4 - not just disappointing but the final nail in the coffin!

So its out and already being labelled as the best openSUSE release ever. The same was said about 11.3 and every other previous release...

In terms of visual appearance the openSUSE team have done an excellent job, the new spash screen, desktop wallpaper and installer together have a very consistent and professional look. It gives the impression of a quality product.

Don't judge a book by its front cover!

These minor elements aside, I am disappointed with openSUSE 11.4.The previous release, 11.3 got a reputation for being the worst distribution for nvidia users and you would have thought they would not make the same mistake twice.

32-bit nvidia users, this is for you -

Monitoring the forums, there could even be a nasty surprise for AMD/ATi users. Other issues surfacing include problems resuming from suspend/hibernate, borked systems when using the upgrade feature and lack of sound.

In any event I am a 64-bit nvidia user so the 32-bit nvidia bug is of no relevance to myself but I am still disappointed with the performance of 11.4.

The boot speed is slower than 11.3 and KDE seems to have a long delay at start up making the system unresponsive. I have tested this on 3 different systems, all exhibit the same behaviour.

Adding a new Wi-Fi connection using knetworkmanager seems a bit buggy, logging out and back in KDE resolved this issue.

With concern to the system response, KDE 4.6 in 11.4 just doesn't feel as fast as it should be. Maybe I am being unfair when judging performance as a result of using KDE 4.6 in Gentoo but on the very same system the difference is a world apart.

Memory consumption in this release has also has taken a dive for the worse, its not as friendly as previous releases.

Maybe after a few updates 11.4 will become more refined but it hasnt been as polished as I was hoping for.

Its also quite interesting that they decided to ship 11.4 with a beta version of Firefox 4.

Personally I am struggling to think of a reason to use openSUSE 11.4. If you are a die hard KDE fan Gentoo will provide you with a blazing experience and whilst I have not tried Arch I am sure it will be better than openSUSE 11.4.

And if you are a GNOME fanatic, Fedora, Ubuntu and Debian provide a leaner and meaner experience.

Sure enough not everyone wants to spend the time setting up Gentoo / Arch but openSUSE comes with a lot of bloat and is the most bloated distribution I have used. Holding itself out to be a multipurpose distribution, you could say this is by design.

At the end of the day I am just an ordinary average desktop user looking for a Linux based operating system that will satisfy my simplistic needs. I was drawn to openSUSE because of KDE 3.5 and my great experience with version 10.3. Despite such a great experience I have never liked YaST, the idea of a central application to manage and administer the system is a great but its implementation (via YaST) seriously sucks. I can use YaST but I find the layout illogical. Its often a case of tab after tab, scroll here and scroll there.

Setting up a Samba server, modifying the firewall rules, managing a network card, it is all easier without YaST.

Since then I have never been completely satisfied with openSUSE and have spent a lot of time distrohopping back and forth between openSUSE and other distributions.

Well openSUSE 11.4 is the final nail in the coffin.

The reason I distrohop back and forth from openSUSE is because there is always something better. But if you are wondering why openSUSE in the first place, 10.3 was the distribution that changed my view of Linux. It opened my eyes and made me realize that Linux on the desktop was a perfectly viable and real option.

You could say I continued using it simply out of loyalty.

Unfortunately it is time to accept the fact that openSUSE is not for me.

If I want a GNOME distribution I will always pick Fedora. If I want to use KDE with the best user experience possible then Gentoo delivers. If I want to setup a dedicated samba server, FreeNAS. If I want a low maintenance distribution for a family member, Ubuntu.

And that's the end of that, the hammers down and the nails are in.

Thursday, 3 March 2011

openSUSE 11.4 in 6 days, screenshots look very professional

In 6 days time openSUSE 11.4 will be released and I am already impressed with the screenshots from

openSUSE has always had a very polished feel but 11.3 with its horrible default wallpaper and splash screens lacked that professional touch. Well it looks like 11.4 will remedy that with its striking new professional looks.

openSUSE 11.4 with Gnome -

Just look at that wallpaper!

openSUSE 11.3 with KDE -

KDE, with a greener version.

I can't wait for openSUSE 11.4, I hope the user experience is as good as the looks.

This also goes to show that sometimes the small things (like a different desktop wallpaper) can have a big effect.

Thursday, 3 February 2011

openSUSE 11.3 with KDE 4.6 (mini review)

Despite the troubles in Novell / Attachmate land, openSUSE remains strong and focused with the availability of KDE 4.6.

Another update to KDE, it's now on version 4.6. Thinking back to the very first KDE 4.x release, there is no doubt that the KDE team have made a lot of progress to this date.

As a desktop environment KDE provides a modern looking and stylish desktop that feels fast and has plenty of eye candy.

Being a KDE fan I decided to give KDE 4.6 a go with openSUSE 11.3 since openSUSE provides the most polished user experience with KDE. By default openSUSE 11.3 ships with KDE 4.4.4 but the team have provided a stable KDE 4.5 repository which I highly recommend.

I believe plans for a stable KDE 4.6 repository are underway but at the moment openSUSE users have the option of using the Factory openSUSE KDE 4.6 repo. Essentially this provides an upstream version of KDE with openSUSE patches which is in the progress of being tested.

So after upgrading openSUSE 11.3 to KDE 4.6, in comparison to KDE 4.5.x there really isnt much difference apart from the odd visual and application tweaks here and there.


Far from it, under the hood KDE 4.6 has undergone significant changes, such as the removal of HAL and shift to udev, upower and udisks. Improvements to kwin have resulted in a better performance. Overall I am more happy with the lack of obvious changes because I feel it illustrates KDE 4.x is starting to stabilise and mature into a rock solid desktop environment,

End users such as myself are starting to get tired of drastic changes with each update of KDE, the release of 4.6 makes a nice change and hopefully marks a new stage for KDE. A stage that will perhaps focus a bit more on the end user.

So if you are serious about KDE, get openSUSE 11.3.

Smoke some Tumbleweed

If the excitement of KDE 4.6 isn't enough, then why not try the openSUSE Tumbleweed repository?

As announced not so long ago, openSUSE is looking into the possibility of becoming a rolling release.Simply add their Tumbleweed repository to your system to benefit from more up to date and stable packages.Currently this includes kernel 2.6.37.

openSUSE 11.3, KDE 4.6 and Kernel 2.6.37 at more or less at the click of a button!

Saturday, 8 January 2011

Rolling release is the way forward, join the openSUSE roller coaster

Linux in general is under constant development, always improving and moving forward with pace.This is great overall for the world of Linux but for its users there is a slight problem.

To benefit from newer packages you typically have to wait until your distribution vendor releases an entirely new distribution that incorporates newer packages.

However what often occurs is the latest release of a distribution includes a KDE desktop that is already outdated and it will remain stuck at this version until the distribution vendor in question releases their next release.

Or a Linux kernel that is several version behind the latest stable release.

If you were to install openSUSE 11.3 this very moment you would get KDE 4.4.4 and Linux kernel 2.6.34

The latest stable KDE is 4.5.5 and Linux kernel is 2.6.37

But here is another problem, to benefit from newer software packages you typically have to install your distribution again using the latest release.

So if you wish to benefit from newer packages, as a Ubuntu / Fedora user you have to perform a distribution install every 6 months. 8 months for openSUSE users.

Given the choice most of us would rather not have to bother but as a Linux user this is the Linux way.

Or was the way?

Distributions like Gentoo and Arch have an advantage in that they are already rolling release distributions.

This means to benefit from newer packages you do not need to reinstall the system from scratch but just perform a simple online update which will download newer packages.

The convenience a rolling release distribution can provide is simply something that all distribution vendors should seriously consider. I believe it is a major step in the right direction for Linux if all distributions were rolling release distributions.

There has already been talk from the Ubuntu crowd about a rolling release but that is all.

openSUSE however has made a big leap forward and taken the initiative to get the roller coaster rolling.

The goal of the Tumbleweed project is to create a ‘rolling release’ version of openSUSE. A rolling release distribution (like Arch Linux or Gentoo) always offers the latest stable versions of a package as updates so that when a new release of any upstream software surfaces, users actually don’t have to do a distribution upgrade. The packages will simply be part of the usual updates.

The openSUSE tumbleweed project is the first steps towards making openSUSE a rolling release distribution.

But was it the first steps?

Interesting question and in my view no. openSUSE already took the first steps towards moving to a rolling release months ago when they announced the KDE 4.5 stable repository for openSUSE 11.3.

With KDE development moving so quickly between distribution releases, users don’t want to be stuck with the distro release version of KDE. The much requested 4.5.* stable repo has now been provided for openSUSE 11.3 users.

The KDE 4.5 repository has by far been the most welcoming move for openSUSE KDE 4.x users, bringing many bug fixes and performance enhancements.

The announcement of the Tumbleweed project could not come at a better time for openSUSE. I had my doubts about the future of openSUSE since the Attachmate deal but developments like this demonstrate openSUSE is a very active project with huge potential.

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Is it me or is there a lack of interest in openSUSE?

Whether its browsing the internet and looking for information about openSUSE or talking to the general public, openSUSE just seems to not get the attention I believe it deserves.

It isn't a bad operating system but struggles to gain popularity, is that still because of the Microsoft deal a few years ago?

Is it because it dropped KDE 3.5 at a time when KDE 4.x was in a miserable state?

Is it because it places more emphasis on KDE?

Is it due to the poor documentation it provides to its users?

I am interested in your views and experiences with openSUSE. What is it that makes you stay away from openSUSE?

Sunday, 8 August 2010

OpenSUSE 11.3, the best binary KDE distribution or best KDE distribution?

I have been using Gentoo for a few months and it has been a good experience but generally I can't see myself continuing to use it.

The advancement of modern day hardware has made using Gentoo a less time consuming experience.

What would once take days or weeks, now takes hours.

The end result is an optimized system tailored to your needs.

My needs are quite simple, good multimedia functionality, web browsing and office use. So with Gentoo I am able to create a system that can meet my needs and there is the added benefit of that little extra nippy feel and quicker application load times.

Initially I was relying on default use flags set by the kde desktop profile, lets look at an emerge --info output for this profile.

USE="X a52 aac acl acpi alsa amd64 berkdb bluetooth branding bzip2 cairo cdr cli consolekit cracklib crypt cups cxx dbus dri dts dvd dvdr emboss encode exif fam firefox flac fortran gdbm gif gpm gtk hal iconv ipv6 jpeg kde lcms ldap libnotify mad mikmod mmx mng modules mp3 mp4 mpeg mudflap multilib ncurses nls nptl nptlonly ogg opengl openmp pam pango pcre pdf perl png ppds pppd python qt3support qt4 readline reflection sdl session spell spl sse sse2 ssl startup-notification svg sysfs tcpd tiff truetype unicode usb vorbis x264 xcb xml xorg xulrunner xv xvid zlib"

It seems like a lot but that isn't necessarily a bad thing. If a software package has support for ipv6 and it is defined in your use flags, it will be built to support it. If however, it doesn’t have support for ipv6 it wont magically be built in.

I was quite happy with the performance my Gentoo install had using the kde desktop profile but decided to see if I could improve it. So after much tweaking I was able to reduce the use flags to the following,

USE="3dnow X a52 aac acpi alsa amd64 bzip2 cairo cdr cli consolekit cracklib crypt cups cxx dbus dri dts dvd dvdr encode exif firefox flac gif gpm hal jpeg kde libnotify mad mmx modules mp3 mp4 mpeg mudflap multilib ncurses ogg opengl pam pcre pdf perl png ppds python qt3support qt4 readline reflection samba sdl session spell sse sse2 ssl startup-notification svg sysfs tcpd tiff truetype usb vorbis x264 xcb xml xorg xv xvid zlib"

So what was the outcome?

The outcome was, packages had fewer dependencies and as a result a few less packages were installed.

Performance / memory consumption wise, absolutely no difference.

Not that I expected to see any. Most of the 485+ packages I happen to have installed use few to none of the use flags.

You can only tweak your system so far. Beyond that you are only engaging in a pointless exercise.

Based on my experience, I see no point in trying to tweak the kde desktop profile.

Infact I am now wondering what would happen if I build all packages to support as much as possible, which is what all your major distributions do.

Will I notice a difference?

I have my doubts.

I stated above that the modern day hardware has made using Gentoo a less time consuming experience but there is also another consequence of having more powerful hardware.

As software packages support more and are built with more functionality, its code size typically increases. Memory consumption therefore goes up and so does execution time. However modern day hardware is having a counter effect on these negative aspects.

Modern day hardware can process code quicker and more memory is readily available. So despite your binary distribution being compiled with generic optimizations and software packages being built to support as much as possible, the performance in most cases is getting better providing your system isn’t old.

Gentoo has lost its appeal on the performance front because for many users the gain ranges from minor to negligible. When you also take into consideration to time it takes to setup / update Gentoo, it simply isn't worth it.

Infact what is the general consensus concerning Gentoo today?

Is it about performance or control?

Interestingly, OpenSUSE 11.3 was released not so long ago and the performance is very nippy. If you haven’t tried it, I suggest you do.

My utter disappointment with OpenSUSE 11.2 (it was very sluggish) is what made me try out Gentoo.

Funnily enough, OpenSUSE 11.3 has changed some of my thoughts about Gentoo.

I once said,

"Gentoo, If you have the time and are willing to put in the effort then why not?"

I now say, because the gain is so small it becomes a pointless effort.

OpenSUSE 11.3 takes 10 to 15 minutes to install and performance is great. Even though I can still feel a little more nippiness in Gentoo and applications load that bit quicker, common sense rules in favour of OpenSUSE.

A superb effort by the OpenSUSE team, they have delivered a well polished and professional product with good performance.

I still believe Gentoo is the most innovating distribution to exist, their package management portage is truly a piece of art. The level of control, the ability to tailor the system and the learning experience cannot be matched by anything else.

The only problem is I am just using it for the wrong reason.

Gentoo and KDE 4.4.5 - A snapshot of the past...

Gentoo isn't about performance, that is only a side effect. The real power behind Gentoo is it's control.

Thursday, 15 July 2010

OpenSUSE 11.3 - First Impressions

Thanks to my 10MB Virgin Media connection it only took a few hours too long to download, courtesy of their traffic management system.

As always I went for the 64-bit DVD version and after checking the SHA1 I quickly burnt it to a DVD+R disk.

If you have used the previous version of OpenSUSE, you will be quite familiar with the installer. In fact it is the same but with different graphics.

I am not surprised that the installer has remained the same because it is quite hard to improve something which does an excellent job, OpenSUSE has the best installer of any distribution I have used with some great options for the more advanced user.

Installing OpenSUSE 11.3 is very quick, in about 10 minutes it was all done.

Since I am a KDE fan, I chose to install KDE. OpenSUSE 11.3 comes with KDE 4.4.4 which I have already been using in Gentoo.

After logging in, I must admit I do not like the default green wallpaper but I do like the performance.

The system feels quite nippy and is a big improvement over 11.2. In fact I am quite amazed with this release. Opening a few applications such as Firefox, OpenOffice, Kaffeine and browsing through folders with Dolphin was reasonably quick.

The sluggish performance I felt in OpenSUSE 11.2 seems to have disappeared and I installed Gentoo in favour of 11.2 for this very reason.

As it happens I wiped out my Gentoo install in order to try out OpenSUSE 11.3, question is do I put it back?

For now I will continue to evaluate OpenSUSE 11.3, I have only been using it for a few minutes but already feel it is going to be a good release.

Time will tell if any hidden monsters await and I will be keeping an eye on the OpenSUSE forums to see what horror stories may surface.

OpenSUSE 11.3 with KDE 4.4.4 (Oxygen Theme and a nicer wallpaper)

Thursday, 22 April 2010

Better looking fonts in OpenSUSE 11.2 KDE 4.x

You may be thinking the default fonts used by OpenSUSE in KDE are quite good already but it can be slightly better.

All you have to do is change the default fonts to the Liberation font set to experience slightly better looking text within your desktop environment.

Go to KDE System settings > Appearance > Fonts

System Settings - Fonts

Simply match the fonts in the above screenshot, set Anti Aliasing to enabled and the DPI to 96.

Finally click on the configure button and change the font hinting to full.

Anti-Aliasing Settings

Once you have finished, reboot for your changes to take effect.