Installing SUSE Linux - Full tutorial

Updated: June 13, 2007; December 31, 2009

Note: I have written a new openSUSE installation guide, focusing on openSUSE 11.2. The guide is long, thorough and extremely detailed, covering step-by-step the installation of both the Gnome and KDE desktops, from both full DVD and live CD, with special focus on the partitioning, including dual-boot setups. Furthermore, the tutorial also explains how to choose the right media, format and architecture for your system, how to download, burn and verify the ISO image, and many other little yet critical details you won't easily find elsewhere.

Note: I have written a new review of openSUSE 11.2 with KDE desktop. The article covers a wide range of topics, including live session experience, installation and post-install usage, focusing on Wireless, Bluetooth, Samba sharing, multimedia support, one-click installs, package management, extra repositories, applications, stability, performance, suspend & hibernate laptop modes, and much more. A review of the Gnome edition coming soon!

Note: I have written a new review / tutorial about openSUSE 11. This article covers the changes and new features introduced in the distribution since version 10.1 that is presented in the below text. Additionally, the article covers the installation of a production system, including (ATI) graphics drivers, Compiz Fusion, Wireless support, Samba sharing and NTFS support for Windows machines, games, virtualization, multimedia support, the software updater, and many more details.

Note: This guide was written in the summer of 2006, when SUSE 10.1 was the latest release. It still applies well for the more recent releases, and will be periodically updated.

Most people today use Windows XP as their primary and probably only operating system. Some of these people have had experience with previous versions of Windows or maybe even DOS, if they are old enough. But very few people have had the chance to try a Linux operating system.

The major reproaches I have heard so far about Linux are these: Difficult to install and use; made for geeks only. Not very intuitive, not easy to migrate to for Windows users. No dedicated single source of help; you have to spend hours browsing the Internet for instructions.

Today, I hope to dispel all these.

I would like you to read this article and realize that you should not be afraid of (a) Linux operating system. It is different from what you may be used to, but it is NOT difficult to use. Ask yourself the following questions: How soon did you become Windows experts, if at all? After how many months and years of daily use did you become sufficiently knowledgeable to feel comfortable using Windows? Come on, let's install Linux.

If you want to skip some of the chapters, here's a short (not full) table of major contents for this tutorial.

  1. Page 1 - Begin installation
  2. Page 2 - Partitioning, boot loader, expert options
  3. Page 3 - Complete installation & copy files
  4. Page 4 - Network, root password, users
  5. Page 5 - First login
  6. Page 6 - Basic configurations
  7. Page 6 - Basic functionality
  8. Page 6 - Graphic card drivers
  9. Page 6 - Turning your SUSE Linux machine into a router
  10. Page 6 - AppArmor
  11. Page 6 - Other configurations


First thing first! SUSE or SuSE? I really don't know. I have seen both. Novell and openSUSE use capitalized 'u' so I'll go with them. SUSE Linux is my favorite Linux distribution. It's sleek, it's handsome, it's powerful. But attractions aside.

SUSE is one of the many Linux distributions available for free download on the Internet today. It is one of more complete and mature distributions. It offers a huge package of programs for all available facets of computing; you will not be dearly tempted to download any extra programs. Most if not all of what you need will be included alongside the operating system, a whooping total of about 700 packages, including Open Office suite, Firefox browser, GIMP graphics software, media players, cd/dvd-burning tools, backup tools, games, and more more more. You can find the full list on Novell site.

SUSE has a very good hardware compatibility. It is very intuitive and will offer an almost painless migration from Windows. It also comes in 32-bit and fully optimized 64-bit versions, allowing people with 64-bit processors to take max. advantage of their computing power.

OK, so what do we need to install SUSE?

  1. A PC with Pentium CPU, a minimum of 256MB RAM and 6GB of hard disk space.
  2. SUSE 10.1 installations CDs (5) or DVD (1).
  3. Some patience and spare time.
  4. Optionally - a virtualization product like VMware Player or Server.

SUSE is available for download as 5 CDs or 1 DVD. A live DVD also exists, so if you are unsure, you can download this one first to trial SUSE before you decide to install it. Trying the live DVD will also give you a good indication how well your hardware is recognized.

If you are convinced that you have a computer with minimum requirements to install SUSE and you wish to try this fabulous operating system, you can find all the available downloads at openSUSE. Download the relevant .iso file(s) and burn it / them to CDs or DVD. Make sure the checksums are correct.

On the next pages, I will provide a step-by-step instructions how to install and properly configure SUSE Linux. For the purpose of this guide, I have used VMware Server as the installation platform.

Indeed, if you are afraid to try SUSE for real, you can use either VMware Player or VMware Server virtualization products and install SUSE as a guest operating system without a risk of damage to your working machine. After you master the concepts, you can then proceed to install SUSE on physical rather than virtual hardware.

If you have difficulties getting started with VMware Player, you may want to read my article VMware Player - a great friend first. VMware Server is a more powerful product than the VMware Player and can also build virtual machines.

This article assumes that you are somewhat computer-literate and that you are capable of installing any operating system by yourself, like Windows 98 or Windows XP, for example. If you have doubts about how to proceed from here, you might want to read Installing Windows XP article first. This will give you a fair insight not only into the basic of installing an operating system using a visual and textual interface, it will also give you a notion about basic system installation procedures like partitioning, network configuration, users, language settings, and more.

In my setup, I will install SUSE 10.1 (latest stable version at the time this article was written) from a DVD (rather than 5 CDs). The DVD contains by default the Add-On CD that is not included in the 5-CD set; however, if you opt to install from CDs, you will be able to select additional sources during the installation. I will install SUSE in English, and accordingly all reference to names of menus, functions or applications will be in English. The virtual PC will have 256MB RAM and 8GB hard disk.

So, if you are ready, go to the next page. At the end of this multi-page article, hopefully, you will have learned: How to setup and install SUSE Linux operating system. How to configure your basic functionality in KDE desktop environment. How to configure graphic drivers and system update functions. How to turn your SUSE machine into a router. Optionally, how to use VMware Player and / or Server. Furthermore, I will have dispelled the following myths: That Linux operating systems are not intuitive or easy to use. That Linux operating systems are meant for geeks. That Linux operating systems have a messy and unhelpful support. Warning for the 56K dial-up users: For the purpose of better readability, I will use full-size images rather than thumbnails that link to images. This may cause some slowdown during the loading of the pages.

Again, you do not have to really do any of this. You could just read and practice the next time you really install from scratch. But I suggest you try to follow the instructions and do it for yourself. You will only benefit from it.


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