Getting started with OpenSuse 42.1 Leap for Ubuntu users

OpenSUSE is one the oldest Linux distribution around. For more than 2 years I was using OpenSUSE and I can say after Mandrake my second distro was Open SUSE and I like it so much due to its stability before I switched to Debian.

One 4th Nov, 2015, SUSE team announced the new release of OpenSUSE which is called Leap 42.1. It is a first Hybrid distribution. You can see more here,

https://news.opensuse.org/2015/11/04/opensuse-leap-42-1-becomes-first-hybrid-distribution/

The latest release utilizes Linux kernel 4.1 and in the first run it showed quite impressive. In order to know about this release and improvements in comparison with the previous one, take a look at this page at Distrowatch,

http://distrowatch.com/table.php?distribution=opensuse

I don’t know what happened that suddenly I was thinking to give a try to OpenSUSE after more than 7 years. I have installed in my laptop alongside Ubuntu to try its stability compare with Ubuntu.

By contrast of Ubuntu 14.04 that had problem with my WiFi adaptor, OpenSUSE recognized each and every devices and installed drivers properly on Leveno 40G laptop. But occasionally, I have to reset the connection due to the driver glitch. I am trying to find a way for it before it will get annoying.

Update 2 : Finally, I have got pissed off due to continues disconnection of the WiFi adapter and managed to find a way.
My WiFi model is rlt8723 and if you need to install the similar RealTek WiFi adapter the procedure is more or less the same. What you need to do is slightly tricky. To understand it clearly I have broken down the procedure to few steps.
1. Need to clone this repository,

 $ git clone https://github.com/lwfinger/rtlwifi_new.git 

2. Need to install Linux kernel header as well as build-essential. In openSUSE by contrast of Ubunutu those package names are different. For installing build-essential, you can run this command,

 $ sudo zypper install -t pattern devel_basis 

Linux kernel is not so straightforward to install from command line. Hence you better, open YaST -> Software -> Software Management – Select the View Button on the top left and pick Patterns. Now, you will see several Patterns listed and you want to select:

[X] Base Development
[X] Linux Kernel Development
[X] C/C++ Development

3. Then after you have finished installing the dependency, you need to cd to the repository of the drivers and then run the following commands,

$ make
$ sudo make install
$ sudo modprobe rtl8723be #[Or your WiFi module]

4. Lastly you need to restart your computer and by right the driver should be installed.
References I have used to install the driver are in the bottom of the post.

For making the excitement more, I have decided to go with KDE after more than 8 years despite the fact that OpenSUSE offers various desktop environment (GNOME, Xfce, Lxde, Enlightenment, MATE, and more). I have to admit that I was totally impressed by the amount of improvements in KDE. Though, working with KDE was somehow troublesome in the first place no matter what kind of distro you are using. This is especially painful that I couldn’t come along with single clicking and adding folder and file to desktop.

I have faced some difficulties using OpenSUSE or to be exact I was not used to do the things different from what I was doing in Ubuntu and Debian. Hence, I was decided to make some changes and I have gathered my finding in the following section.

The first different between OpenSUSE and other distros is its package manager. SUSE supports .rpm file but the package manager is not apt (Ubuntu, Debian), yum (Fedora, CentOS), or even pacman (Arch). It has YaST (which is now deprecated) and zypper. This can look troublesome especially for Debian based users like me. So if you want to install any package from command line you should use this command,

$ sudo zypper install [package name]

For the single clicking issue, I had no choice except change the setting to make it double click. If you don’t know how to do that, click on this link,

https://userbase.kde.org/Dolphin/File_Management

For desktop file and folders I came up with a work around which is using folder view. You can watch this quick video to know how to add folder view and configure it.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Ryr5Ey3agc

As I expected audio and video files (.Mp3, .Avi, etc.) do not have codec install by default. To do that you can refer to this link which is quite easy and straightforward.

https://en.opensuse.org/Additional_package_repositories#Packman

For some common applications such as Chromium which by default those are not available in official OpenSUSE repositories, you can refer to this page and add the repository to your distro.

https://en.opensuse.org/Additional_package_repositories#Packman

Also if you do not remember how to install a rpm package, you can use this command,

$ rpm -ivh [package name]

Installing Google chrome is little bit tricky. I have experienced getting error while I attempted to install it from rpm package. It was throwing error regarding lsb libraries. To handle the problem you need to install this package,

$ zypper install lsb

Another problem I have tackled was Dropbox client. Sadly, Dropbox has no official release for Dropbox in KDE and if you attempt to install the official client, you have to install bunch of Gnome related packages which is quite unsatisfactory. The better option is installing an unofficial client. I have added links of two of them which are quite good.

http://sourceforge.net/projects/kdropbox/?source=typ_redirect

https://aur.archlinux.org/packages/kfilebox/

For Wine, I have installed it without any problem and it was working with no issue. Just there is no WineTrick and PlayOnLinux available and if you want, you should install them manually.

Regarding flash plugin, I have downloaded from its official page and installed the rpm file with no issue and it simply worked out of the box.

Same goes with Opera browser, you just need to download from the following link and install it,

http://www.opera.com/download/guide/?os=linux

For making Konsole(KDE terminal) background transparent you can refer to the following link,

http://askubuntu.com/questions/189487/how-do-i-configure-background-transparency-for-kdes-terminal

Now it is time for some useful shortcut that are different with Gnome.

The first shortcut that is missing in KDE is Ctrl+Alt+T which is used to open terminal. Don’t worry you can have it easily, you just need to introduce a global shortcut (command) which is fairly simple. You can follow post number #3 of the link and define your global command,

http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=1869846

Another thing which is different is shortcut for switching between different tabs of terminal. In Gnome the shortcut was Shift+PgUp and Shift+PgDn. In KDE terminal, it is changed to Shift+Left Arrow Key and Shift+Right Arrow Key.

In Ubuntu and Gnome 3 Windows key (A.K.A super key) is used to open the launcher menu. KDE doesn’t have such a feature and basically, superkey is absolutely useless. Instead for opening KDE launcher you can use Alt+F1.

To open system activity menu (monitoring the system processor usage, RAM and so on) you can use Ctrl+ESC combination which opens a task manager similar to Windows.

For some nice desktop effect, I have also found these two shortcut.

Ctrl+F8 and Ctrl+F9

For Java programmers

OpenSUSE 42.1 delivered with OpenSDK_1.8 and it is working well. However, I have found some common issues and I have managed to address them.

Unfortunately, Maven is not available in the default SUSE repository, you need to download it from this link by one click only.

https://software.opensuse.org/package/maven

By contrast of Maven, Ant is available in the packages and you need to install it only by this command,

$ sudo zypper install ant

During compiling your Java application if you have faced the issue/error that JAVA_HOME doesn’t points to JDK and it points to JRE. You need to resolve it in this way,

This means you need to change JAVA_HOME environment variable to point to JDK because JRE doesn’t have compiler and can’t compile your source code. To do so, need to edit ~/.bashrc file and add the following lines at the end of the file,

export JAVA_HOME=path-to-jdk [e.g. /usr/lib/jvm/java-1.6.0-openjdk-amd64]
export PATH=$PATH:/$JAVA_HOME/bin

If I want to summarize my experience as an Ubuntu user about OpenSUSE I would say, it is very stable release and suitable for production. But for normal Gnome or Ubuntu users like me, it is very difficult in the first glance to catch up and need some modification to make them feeling comfortable.But I believe the only major problems I have faced are :

  1. Lack of APT package manager
  2. KDE desktop environment configuration (For Gnome user, OpenSUSE has Gnome in the default repository as well)

Update : Point 2 is not consider as a problem, it is more or less changing comfort zone and taking up adventure of trying a different desktop environment. However, you should note that I could have installed other desktop environment uring installation process but for making the excitement double, I went with KDE which is very sweet and nice experience.

References for WiFi installation section

http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=2254511
http://askubuntu.com/questions/523397/i-want-to-install-wifi-card-but-my-additional-drives-is-empty
http://randomgeekery.org/post/2014/what-is-build-essentials-for-opensuse/
https://forums.opensuse.org/showthread.php/491320-kernel-header-install

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