openSUSE:Desktop FAQ

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Installation

Should I install Leap or Tumbleweed?

A common misunderstanding is that the difference between Leap and Tumbleweed is one of stability; with Leap being stable and Tumbleweed being unstable. Tumbleweed contains newer software with bug fixes and improvements. Each Tumbleweed snapshot is tested with openQA. So Tumbleweed is also good for daily use. When making a decision, consider the following questions:

How much time do I want to spend maintaining the system and learning new changes?

If you have time to play with the system and are eager to learn latest features, go with Tumbleweed. Otherwise, go with Leap.

Do I want latest version of KDE/GNOME?

If your answer is yes, go with Tumbleweed. Otherwise, go with Leap. Note: you can install the latest applications from OBS, so application version shouldn't stop you from using Leap. However, installing latest KDE/GNOME on Leap might be hard and risky.

Do I want long term support with a focus on security, stability and enterprise features that just work?

Consider Leap, as it's built with many of the same packages as SUSE Linux Enterprise and therefore easy to transition the latest versions of Leap to SUSE Linux Enterprise if you need enterprise support.

How to choose a desktop environment?

openSUSE offers the most complete desktop choices: KDE, GNOME, Xfce, LXDE, LXQt, Enlightenment, Cinnamon, MATE, Pantheon and more.

openSUSE installer provides three officially supported desktop options:

KDE is the default desktop environment of openSUSE. It is modern, beautiful and fully customizable. KDE is good for both beginners and professionals. No matter you come from Windows or macOS, KDE can provide you a familiar user experience.

GNOME is another popular desktop environment that is well supported by openSUSE. It is less customizable but easier to start.

Xfce is the best one for old or low spec PC. It requires just a little memory and disk space, compared to KDE and GNOME.

Other supported but NOT fully tested desktop environments (LXDE, LXQt, Enlightenment, Cinnamon, MATE, Pantheon) can be installed from YaST. Click their links to learn more about how to install. These desktop environments don't have the same quality as officially supported ones. Use only when you are experienced and familiar with them.

Why openSUSE doesn't create a separate home partition by default?

With the introduce of Btrfs and Snapper, openSUSE Leap and Tumbleweed can run safely for years. Almost all system failure can be repaired by a rollback. Even if file system errors happens, you can still repair it without reinstalling operating system. Once you don't need to reinstall operating system, you don't need a separate home partition.

Having a single partition with Btrfs has some benefits:

  1. Root file system will be large enough, so you don't have to worry running out of space during updating or installing games.
  2. You can even enable snapshots for your home directory to get even better data protection.
  3. Move of files from system directory to home directory will be faster.
  4. Write operation will be more balanced, which is good for SSD devices.

Should I use a mirror and how to choose the right one?

If an ISO download from https://software.opensuse.org or package update from https://download.opensuse.org fails repeatedly, wait a few hours then try again. Should it fail then, please ask openSUSE Support (Forums, IRC, Reddit, Telegram, etc) if there is a known issue. Support may direct you to fix this manually by using alternative FTP or HTTP links. This page, https://mirrors.opensuse.org/ provides the direct links to the various mirrors around the world with available ISOs, repositories and packages. Select a link in your region that shows the openSUSE distribution and version you require.

Troubleshooting

I cannot enter desktop!

openSUSE has a backup desktop IceWM. You can choose IceWM desktop in login screen. If you cannot enter IceWM, Ctrl+Alt+F2 to login command line mode.

If you recently updated system, try to rollback with snapper and reboot. More information please check Snapper FAQ.

If a rollback doesn't work, you may have some broken configuration under your /home/username folder. Run

mv ~/* ~/backup

then logout and login back.

If none of those helps, the community is ready to help you.

I run out of disk space during update!

When you upgrade from Leap 15.0 to Leap 15.1, or update to a newer Tumbleweed snapshot, you may download thousands of packages. Downloading or installation process may be stuck because here is no space left on root partition.

You can do the following steps to free 10~20 GiB of space:

  1. Delete older Btrfs snapshots
  2. Remove older kernels
  3. Clean up journal log
  4. Empty temporary files and cache data

More information, please check SDB:Disk space. Also check #Why openSUSE doesn't create a separate home partition by default?

Package Management

How to update software?

If you use openSUSE Tumbleweed, then sudo zypper dup is the only way to go.

If you use openSUSE Leap, sudo zypper up is also the old, good choice. But you get more tools provided by your desktop environment. You will get notifications when updates are available. Follow the instruction and updates can be installed with several clicks.

openSUSE never force you to update and reboot. You can do it whenever you want. Here is no need for immediate reboot and your system will keep running.

Check System Updates for more information.

How to search packages?

You can first search in YaST or
sudo zypper search <packagename>

If you cannot find the package, it might not be in official repository. Then you can go to software.opensuse.org or use opi to search a larger collection of packages from OBS.

You can also check packages in KDE Discover and GNOME Software, which contains packages from Flathub and Snap Store.

PackageKit has no response and block YaST/Zypper

Open System Monitor or KSysGuard. Search "packagekit" process, right click and choose "Kill".

You can remove PackageKit totally to avoid this issue in future:

sudo zypper remove PackageKit
sudo zypper addlock PackageKit

Multimedia

Why can't I play MP3 music or H.264 video?

I cannot watch YouTube video in Firefox!

How to install codecs from Packman repository?

VLC, Firefox and Chromium don't come with codecs for MP3 and H.264. openSUSE cannot provide these codecs in official repository because of legal/patent issues.

To install them, you need Packman' repository. Read SDB:Install Packman codecs for instructions.

Is Packman repository safe?

We can break the question into three aspects:

Security: Packman operates in the same way as OBS. It is a different OBS instance. All packages are created and reviewed transparently. Source code can usually be audited. If you trust OBS, you can also trust Packman.

Stability: Packman packages are not tested by openQA, which openSUSE official repositories do. So it is not as stable as official repositories. But it is good enough for personal daily usage.

Legal Risk: Packman contains ffmepg/libav, which have some patent issues. It is your responsibility to check if it is legal to use them in your country.

Desktop Appearance

How to change fonts?

Check Fonts.

Migrate from MS Windows to openSUSE

How to continue using my applications?

Many popular applications are cross platform, like Firefox, Google Chrome (Chromium), VLC, Telegram, Thunderbird. You can install them from openSUSE package repository.

Other Windows only applications, like Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, have alternatives in openSUSE, like GIMP, Inkscape. You can search "open source alternative of ..." to find them. Almost all open source applications can be found in openSUSE package repository.

If you still have to use the Windows application, you can run it through either Wine or VirtualBox. VirtualBox can run almost all Windows applications but the performance is limited. Wine has better performance but not all Windows applications work out of box.

Anyhow, you can keep both Windows and openSUSE on the same machine, it is called multi-booting.

More information please check SDB:How to migrate from Windows.

Time are different between openSUSE and Windows

By default, openSUSE sets hardware clock to UTC time, but Windows sets it to local time. That is the reason.

To fix it, go to YaSTDate and Time, uncheck Hardware Clock Set to UTC, and click OK.

Check YaST Date and Time for more information.

openSUSE on Mac devices

Does openSUSE work on a Mac?

How to install openSUSE on Mac?