Updated: January 6, 2020
All right. Before we start, here's a baseline for you. This article will only be of value to you if you have decided to use openSUSE as your desktop system, and if you have successfully installed it on your host. It is important to remember this, otherwise all of the actions below are rather unnecessary. In my recent Leap 15.2 test, I've encountered tons of critical problems with the openSUSE desktop experience, which make it impossible for me to recommend this particular release as a day-to-day system.
That said, I did manage to overcome a whole range of obstacles, and so, for those of you SUSE-inclined, I'd like to show you a list of different tweaks, tips and tricks you may require to transform the default openSUSE system into one with all the extras you need. But of course, we start with the assumption that the system is working for you just fine. Let's see what gives.
Additional software repositories
The default openSUSE system will not have access to various third-party applications. Therefore, you will need to add extra software sources, like a community repo, to obtain the needed programs - or use one of the new software frameworks (like snap, Flatpak or AppImage). In this review, I will focus on the traditional methods only.
Launch YaST > Software Repositories > Add > Community Repositories. Select Packman. Approve its signing key. Once this step is done, you can install new software.
By default, openSUSE ships with a rich setup. My extras include:
sudo zypper install gimp steam
Multimedia codecs and libraries
If you want to play music and video, you will need to change your default libraries and codecs for versions compiled with proprietary formats. You could see an error like this, for instance in VLC:
No video, Codec not supported:
VLC could not decode the format "h264" (H264 - MPEG-4 AVC (part 10))
This means changing the source (vendor) from the openSUSE repos to the newly added third-party vendor - Packman. Without specifying any particular package, you can just run:
zypper up --allow-vendor-change
If you want to upgrade specific packages - in this case, music and video libraries then:
zypper up --allow-vendor-change libavcodec57 libavformat57
You will see a message like this:
There is an update candidate for 'libavcodec57' from vendor
'http://packman.links2linux.de', while the current vendor is 'openSUSE'. Use 'zypper install
libavcodec57-3.4.4-pm152.5.5.x86_64' to install this candidate.
There is an update candidate for 'libavformat57' from vendor 'http://packman.links2linux.de', while the current vendor is 'openSUSE'. Use 'zypper install libavformat57-3.4.4-pm152.5.5.x86_64' to install this candidate.
Resolving package dependencies...
Run the commands as described in the message above. You will this error:
Problem: libavfilter6-3.4.4-lp152.3.7.x86_64 requires libavformat57 =
3.4.4-lp152.3.7, but this requirement cannot be provided
Problem: libavcodec57-3.4.4-pm152.5.5.x86_64 requires libavutil55 = 3.4.4-pm152.5.5, but this requirement cannot be provided
Problem: libavfilter6-3.4.4-lp152.3.7.x86_64 requires libavformat57 = 3.4.4-lp152.3.7, but this requirement cannot be provided
Solution 1: install libavfilter6-3.4.4-pm152.5.5.x86_64 (with vendor change)
openSUSE --> http://packman.links2linux.de
Solution 2: do not install libavformat57-3.4.4-pm152.5.5.x86_64
Solution 3: break libavfilter6-3.4.4-lp152.3.7.x86_64 by ignoring some of its dependencies
This message informs you of a conflict between packages and dependencies, and allows you to change vendor, by pressing 1 on the command-line. You will need to repeat this for all the listed packages. In the end, you will have a pre-install summary similar to the output shown below:
The following 8 packages are going to change vendor:
libavcodec57 openSUSE -> http://packman.links2linux.de
libavfilter6 openSUSE -> http://packman.links2linux.de
libavformat57 openSUSE -> http://packman.links2linux.de
libavresample3 openSUSE -> http://packman.links2linux.de
libavutil55 openSUSE -> http://packman.links2linux.de
libpostproc54 openSUSE -> http://packman.links2linux.de
libswresample2 openSUSE -> http://packman.links2linux.de
libswscale4 openSUSE -> http://packman.links2linux.de
8 packages to upgrade, 4 new, 8 to change vendor.
Overall download size: 706.1 KiB. Already cached: 7.4 MiB. After the operation,
additional 24.5 MiB will be used.
Continue? [y/n/v/...? shows all options] (y):
Approve and install the new libavcodec and libavformat packages. Job done!
VLC media playback & Samba shares
The installation of the new libraries will resolve any playback issues you may have. However, you need two additional tweaks to be able to play media files from Windows (Samba) shares:
- VLC > Preferences > All > search for smb > provide the credentials in the right pane.
- VLC > Preferences > All > search for prefetch > change the value to match the buffer size. I've already explained the steps in detail in my dedicated tutorial on this topic.
Fonts & improved clarity
By default, openSUSE Leap now ships with the right font libraries, but the LCD Subpixel Rendering option is not set out of the box. To do that, open /etc/environment in a text editor (as root or sudo), and add the following line, then save and reboot your system:
FREETYPE_PROPERTIES="truetype:interpreter-version=35 cff:no-stem-darkening=1 autofitter:warping=1"
This is not a SUSE-specific tweak, but it is very useful. You can install a browser add-on that lets you integrate your browser media playback in the system tray, so you can control media directly from there, like pausing a Youtube video.
Plasma menu icon & dark desktop themes
By default, openSUSE Leap 15.2 ships with a light Air theme and uses a dark monochrome system menu icon. If you switch to a different theme, and/or change to a dark desktop theme, then the icon will not be very legible against the dark panel background. Right-click the menu icon, edit, change the icon, and instead use the Green SUSE icon - it is available under System icons > All, searchable under the suse string. You can use either the old, gradiented one or a new, flat one.
There you go. Hopefully, this guide will make your openSUSE experience more pleasant, more accessible. As I've outlined in my review, the updates part is the big issue, and if you can or are willing to get past it, then this tweaking article has value. Otherwise, none of this really makes sense.
Well, provided you did reach this bit, then we talked about additional repositories, package conflicts, multimedia, fonts, some theming and polish, extra applications, Plasma integration, and a few other elements. If you have any asks as to what else might be required in this distro, don't be a stranger, and I'll see what I can do. That said, I won't be using Leap 15.2, because it just isn't stable and robust enough for me. Sad face. All right, that would be all for now.