openSUSE 11 - Review & Tutorial

Updated: November 15, 2008

Two years since the last tutorial ...

It's been more than two years since I have reviewed SUSE 10.1. That tutorial proved to be highly popular with my readers, both in terms of reviewing a great Linux distro and allowing the new users an easy and question-less transition to the Linux world.

Now, it's time for another look. Two years is a long time in the world of software.

Back then, the installation of a typical Linux distro was easy; post-install configurations were somewhat tricky. Usually, you had to install the graphics drivers by yourself and the support for network devices (including Wireless) was a bit flaky. You also had to work out a bit to find codecs for your Windows media.

Small desktop

Well, we all know things have changed. Numerous popular distros offer everything out of the box. Even if something is missing, it's just a mouse click away. Truly and honestly much simpler than even Windows. The question is: how well does openSUSE fare in this scheme?

Our tasks for today ...

First, you'll be pleasantly surprised. I will install openSUSE 11 not only on a test machine - but also on a production machine. This will give me (and you) an excellent opportunity to see how this distro behaves in a real situation. This means wireless, Compiz Fusion and a lot more.

Better yet, my (new) production machine has the ATI graphic card! For the first time on Dedoimedo, I'll be able to demonstrate the installation and configuration of the ATI graphics drivers. So far, I've only had Nvidia.

So, we'll install openSUSE twice, once on a testbed (desktop, 512MB RAM) and the other time on a laptop (T42, 1.5GB RAM). We'll get to see how simple and easy everything is, including latest desktop 3D effects, multimedia support, games, NTFS support, and more.

You'll love it, I promise.

Get openSUSE

openSUSE comes in many flavors. You have the choice between 32-bit and 64-bit versions, Gnome and KDE desktops, and CD or DVD formats. The DVD format contains a lot more software, but we will be testing the live CD version, with the KDE desktop.

One, the live CD allows you to feel the distro and test hardware compatibility before installing. Two, almost every single modern distro comes packaged as a live CD, so it is important to see how well openSUSE compares in this category.

Adding extra software later on should be quite easy.

To get openSUSE, please visit the official site.

Ready? Let's install openSUSE!

Now that we have almost everything covered, the usual last few words of advice:

If you are not familiar with Linux installations, you are encouraged to try my other tutorials, explaining the Linux basics in rich detail. You will find all of the tutorials in the Software & security category. At the very least, you should spend some time reading the first article about SUSE: Installing SUSE Linux - Full tutorial.

The screenshots are all full-size images, in order to make the article more readable, but they may take some time loading on the 56K dial-up connections.

Lastly, if you are afraid of trying to install openSUSE for real, you are welcome to try the distribution in a virtualized environment. Excellent products like VMware Player, VMware Server, VirtualBox are all great choices for this task. The setup and use of these products are also extensively covered in the above category.

That's it. We'll review the live CD environment on the next page, including Wireless support, Widgets and more.