openSUSE:OpenSUSE for beginners

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This page is part of Talking Points, and explains why we offer a selection of desktops instead of just one

This page will give you, as an openSUSE ambasador, some answers to questions in a discussion about the value of openSUSE for beginning linux users.

The page is under construction and mostly contains a random bunch of arguments... Feel free to add any braindump or question you have! If you have arguments against having both, add those too, we can discuss them and make even better arguments for the ambasadors.


We try to answer the following questions:

  • How EASY is openSUSE for newbies?
    • openSUSE is among the easiest linux distribution for new users. However, openSUSE does not focus on absolute ease of use, preferring to offer users flexibility and choice. So beginners might need to be prepared to read some documentation so they know which choice will suit them best. Still openSUSE does not make things more complicated than necessary and has some easy to use graphical tools to configure system settings like YaST. You can start with openSUSE and never need to change, whether you remain simply a user or develop expert skills, thanks to the flexibility of openSUSE.
  • Does openSUSE have a lot of documentation?
    • openSUSE has excellent documentation writers. More importantly, they are highly skilled people, who also write on more technical subjects. Especially if you have a real issue, finding documentation or answers for openSUSE is easier compared to some other distributions.
  • How will I be able to go on without my usual software under Windows?
    • There's a number of equivalent software available on openSUSE that you would expect to find on Windows. For example, GIMP, which is functionally similar to PhotoShop, Libre Office which equates to Microsoft Word, Firefox to Windows Internet Explorer/Edge, and many others. And the best of it all is that it's FREE! And even better, it comes default with openSUSE installation so you dont't have to install it separately like you do on Windows. However, if you need so, there is a tool that allows you to run most Windows software under linux: WINE. Wine does not always run all applications perfectly but often you can just put in a CD with software and install it. You will have to install wine but that is easy. For the very few specialist applications that still require Windows, dual booting or using a virtual machine is an option.
  • How will I videochat with my friends ?
    • Most video webcams and microphones are supported out of the box. You can install and use Skype for video chatting with your friends as well as some other chat applications like Kopete, Pidgin and Egkiga. For quick use of your webcam we would recommend Cheese, which also allows you to upload video blogs to Youtube. There is a number of video and audio editing packages available for making powerful effects, including Cinelerra, Kdenlive, Lives, Kino, Blender and Pitivi - all offering equivalents of Final Cut Pro. And once again... FREE!
  • Is my hardware supported by openSUSE ?
    • openSUSE proudly boasts support for a significant range of hardware. That said, there are still some companies that choose to keep their hardware specifications proprietary. Hardware that you would add to Windows also requires you to install their drivers (think of the CDs that come with most hardware purchases). These days, more and more hardware vendors recognize the need to allow their devices to be supported by open source-based operating systems and the challenges of hardware compatibility is becoming smaller. To check if your hardware works we recommend to test an openSUSE live DVD or USB stick. You won't have to install anything and can test out all your hardware. Basics like keyboard, mouse, screen and printer usually works. Webcams not always, fingerprint readers seldom. Wifi most of the time, USB speakers usually are no problem either. USB sticks and external drivers normally just work. Video cards from NVidia and AMD/ATI have free as well as official NVIDIA and ATI drivers available in openSUSE which are easy to install. Older hardware is usually supported because the community has had time to develop drivers.
  • How could I fix the bugs I might have? My friends using openSUSE don't understand english and they often do not know how to solve their problems.
    • openSUSE is localized to over 60 languages. There are IRC channels available in many languages and language sub-folders on the Forums, so you can easily find support in your native language. Feel free to chat at the Discord channel, Telegram groups or Matrix bridges as well.
  • Why is it that under GNU/Linux it takes me hours to set things up and under Windows or OS X one click does it: network, printing, using vlc internet features, for example.
    • Windows is designed to be automatic and do all the thinking for users - however this also makes it more vulnerable. It also is a unified system while Linux is built with many variations. OSX similarly is designed to run on one set of hardware. To have the control and configurability that we desire in Linux means sacrificing some automation, but you'll find that recent releases have greatly improved hardware detection and wizards, making your job easier. It's also helpful to read the latest documentation (always look for search results within the last year, too, as old advice is often 'the hard way'!) If you read and follow instructions, it shouldn't take long at all! Yet Another Setup Tool (Yast) should make all of this an easy task.
  • Is it easy to install openSUSE?
    • TOTALLY!! You can install openSUSE while making your morning tea!
  • What are the different flavours of openSUSE?
    • openSUSE has Leap and Tumbleweed. As the "Tumbleweed" name suggests, it is a rolling release, that is, users get the latest software as soon as it passes QA testing, but this is mainly intended for developers or people who like to be on the "bleeding edge". For people new to Linux, Leap is a better recommendation, since the software there is tested thoroughly, which leads to better stability overall. In case you are interested, the same installer is used for XFCE, GNOME, MATE, Cinnamon and KDE (the default). The desktop enviroment can be selected at the installer.
  • Where does openSUSE stand for gamers? Can I get to play cool games?
    • openSUSE comes with a few favorites, and you can download many for free right from the software manager. Popular open source games include the 1st person shooter Enemy Territory, the strategy game Battle for Wesnoth, and of course MINECRAFT! Many Windows games like World of Warcraft run very well in WINE. Of course, you can run Steam as well. Many keen gamers also opt to dual boot, if there are games that simply don't run on Linux.
  • I thought openSUSE was for businesses - can I do art with it?
    • All of the great creativity software that is available for Linux runs perfectly with openSUSE, and is easily installed with just a few clicks through the software manager. GIMP is a powerful raster image editor similar to Photoshop, while Inkscape is an elegant and easy to use vector drawing program like Corel Draw. Do 3D modeling with Blender. Krita is a great KDE app for drawing. There are many other options for editing and organizing images, photographs and video.

  • Can I get support for openSUSE?
    • Of course you can get support for openSUSE and most time it is instant.
      • You can visit the openSUSE forums where you can ask anything in English or in other seven different languages or find what you are looking for by searching for others who had a similar question.
      • You can subscribe to our mailing lists depending on your language or on your nature of your question.
      • For an even more instant support the openSUSE community have various IRC channels where you can enter and have instant support by other openSUSE users.