Migrating to openSUSE

If you’ve followed my dents on identi.ca, you may have noticed that I asked people for their recommendations for a good KDE4 Linux distribution.  Well after a bit of thought I decided that I would move away from Kubuntu to openSUSE.  Why the change?

  • KDE4 is the desktop environment that gets all the attention and polish.  Kubuntu is great and valiant effort by the community to bring the Ubuntu experience to KDE4.  However, there is a lot of polish and integration missing that openSUSE provides.
  • A system that supports my hardware. From some weird reason, the Ubuntu kernel maintainers removed a flag that cause my DVD burner not to see CDs.  This is not the case in openSUSE.  I actually tried to burn something off a LiveUSB before installing openSUSE.  Yes, I could of recompiled my kernel with the right flags.  But if I wanted to do that, I wouldn’t have moved off Gentoo to Kubuntu.
  • A system with lots of packages and community repositories. This is why I didn’t choose some of the lesser known distributions.  openSUSE (and Fedora) do a good job at this.
  • A stable system. Fedora does not do that.  The upcoming release of Kubuntu LTS et al, seems to break things.  openSUSE is extremely conservative in this manner.
  • Something I am familiar with. This was not a hyper-important point, but I do like the fact that I’ve used SuSE in the past.  So installing openSUSE is a bit like going back to an old and comfortable place.

And so far I am pleased.  The desktop looks polished, quick and a great KDE4 experience.  All that said there are somethings I don’t like:

  • Configuration is weird. I am not a huge fan of YaST.  It is good, but somehow my brain has gotten used to thinking either configuration files or KDE’s System Settings.
  • Leaving Upstart. Upstart is really, really neat way of dealing with services.  Now I’m forced to think in terms of rc.d runlevels and I’m not a happy bodkin.
  • NXServer installation breaks things. Oh yes it does.  I fought for quite a while with getting my OpenSSH server starting at boot.  It looks like the bootscript for nxsensor (nxserver’s statistics gathering engine) screws up runlevels.  Never ever had this issue in Ubuntu.
  • No DEBs. I miss DEBs,  aptitude and various DEB tool.  I’m hoping that zypper and yast manage RPM dependencies in a saner manner than what I remember from 2004-2006ish.

Somethings I look forward to trying out:

  • How easy updates work. openSUSE 11.3 is in the works, and I can hardly wait until it comes out in July.  I got a taste of KDE 4.4 via a backport  PPA in Kubuntu.  And I want that that goodness, without my system acting weirdish after the update.
  • Easy to do backups. I could not for the life of me setup a decent backup scheme under Kubuntu.  openSUSE provides a backup module right into YaST.
  • Better performance. So far openSUSE feels snappier than Kubuntu.  We’ll see what will happen once I restore all data from a backup.
  • Developing and distributing KDE and Qt with ease. This is a huge one.  I want to get into programming in Qt and enhancing the KDE experience.  I’m hoping that the tools and build system in openSUSE makes this braindead easy.

12 thoughts on “Migrating to openSUSE

  1. Glad you like it. I also keep trying several other distros (just out of curiosity and work related stuff) and I have not found a better distro yet, I´ve been using Suse and openSUSE for at least 4 years now :)

    I am huge fan of Yast, when configuring something it is just dead easy to set up stuff, albeit I don´t think I have done much with it lately on my desktop, since everything mostly works out of the box. I use zypper from command line, but that´s just a habit. And yes, RPM and Zypper are great together: as long as you keep your repositories sane you will not have any problems. I use deb-based distros all the time in work and I must say I prefer Zypper/Yast in almost every regard to aptitude/synaptic.

    BTW SSH server is enabled by default, at least it was for me, I did check the “Open port in firewall for SSH” during the installation. I also think they switched to use Upstart already in latest milestone releases of 11.3, so I believe it will be in the next upgrade. To be honest I have not had the need to touch the runlevel scripts in my installations so I can not really empathize, but too bad to hear there are packages (NXserver) that require you to.

    BTW for backups I use BackInTime for my workstations. http://backintime.le-web.org/
    It should be available in default repos, but if it isn´t then http://software.opensuse.org/ should work :)

  2. It took a while to figure out that you need to configure stuff first through YaST and through KDE. But I’m definitely warming up to YaST. Now if only the GUI looked and acted saner, but thats something a UI/usability designer ought to look into.

    I’ll have to try out BackInTime. And it took a while find and activate the community repos, but now I have a HUGE amount of software to choose from.

  3. Hi, my last link was incorrect btw, if you are new to openSUSE you might not be familiar with the so called “1-click install”. It makes installing stuff that is not in default repos quite easy, and it does not require you to have huge list of community repos enabled all the time. (just uncheck the option to keep the repos when it asks)

    http://software.opensuse.org/search

  4. Yeah, a little while after discovering how to enable the various community repos, I found out about the “1 Click Install”.

    I wonder if I don’t include the community repos, will it be smart enough to remember about updates to the package? If it does that would be awesome.

    Took the time to learn about zypper. And it reminds me of my favourite deb installing tool, aptitude. The only thing I think I will truly miss from Ubuntu in terms of maintaining packages is deborphan. I know there is rpmorphan… I’m not quite sold on how reliable it is for not removing packages I need. (It wants to remove libdvdcss and libxine for instance.)

  5. Hey friend, thanks for the blog post. When you stated,

    “A system that supports my hardware. From some weird reason, the Ubuntu kernel maintainers removed a flag that cause my DVD burner not to see CDs. This is not the case in openSUSE. I actually tried to burn something off a LiveUSB before installing openSUSE. Yes, I could of recompiled my kernel with the right flags. But if I wanted to do that, I wouldn’t have moved off Gentoo to Kubuntu.”

    would you please elaborate on this and supply some kind of supporting evidence. I am experiencing the same issue under the following bug report:

    https://bugs.launchpad.net/bugs/501207

    The launchpad triage folks are pointing upstream to Brasero for the cause, but (especially in light of your post) I now believe it is an Ubuntu problem and not upstream (perhaps this compile flag you mentioned is, in fact, the cause.)

    Any additional information you could supply (which could be included in the bug report) would be much appreciated. If you are so inclined, it would also be appreciated if you would log into this bug report and add a “this impacts me too” to it. Thanks so much.

    • Well I hate to disappoint, but so far the CD burning has been a no-show. I’ve tried using both K3B and Brasero. After some searching I found the following bug: https://features.opensuse.org/300758

      It looks like hald is causing some pain here. It sees the CD, but refuses to burn it due to ‘cdrecord’ not having permissions. And that apparently comes from some /dev/sg0 issues.

      As for the Ubuntu side of things, I subscribed to the following bug: https://bugs.launchpad.net/bugs/200337 From there I understood that this was a kernel flag issue. And that everything would work if a certain flag was compiled in the kernel. Now whether or not the CD burner will later choke on hald or something else, I don’t know. I’ll add my comments to said bug, but honestly I’ve given up on ever burning CDs under Linux. Which is sad cause the hardware used to work without a hitch. From lsscsi, the burner shows up as:

      [4:0:1:0] cd/dvd HL-DT-ST DVD+-RW GWA4164B E113 /dev/sr1

      Fortunately, this bug doesn’t affect DVDs. Go figure.

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  7. openSUSE makes a much better platform for developers and general users. I’m stuck with Arch/Linux at the moment just because I needed ext4 support at some point so I decided to break my own rules (long story)

    Anyway, your concerns with zipper -though justifiable- lack a lot of information. In fact, from my own experience in Desktop oriented PCs and servers, openSUSE with its package management systems are a good deal of quality vs *.deb management systems. Indeed zipper is a lot more advanced -yet easy and trustworthy – than apt(itude/get/whatever)

    This is the actual standpoint of a *.rpm ex-hater [...] Even Arch packages (often claimed easier than rpms) look like an ugly chaos when you take a look at how nice and trustworthy is the openSUSE community development through BuildService. There is just no point in comparing both distributions.

    I hope I myself will return to openSUSE soon for good. However, the main reason for me to go was that I had to maintain 60+ packages through openSUSE/Build service in order to have the perfect system. That, as you must know, is time consuming…

    Welcome to openSUSE. You’ll never look back!!

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  9. I tried to carefully add some modules to the kernel. But something must’ve gotten fouled up. When I do ‘yum update’, it terminates early with the…

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