openSuSE 13.1 hands on: Some more thoughts

openSuSE 13.1 hands on: Some more thoughts

Summary: A few more days, a bit more experience, A lot more details - and a btrfs filesystem installation!


It has been a few days now since my initial experience with the latest release of openSuSE, so perhaps it is a good time to review what else has happened during that time, and fill in some details, wrap up some loose ends and add a couple of things that I had intended to say in the first post, but managed to forget.

First, I failed to mention the release notes. They are worth a read, there is a lot of interesting and valuable information in there.

Second, I didn't mention the variety of images and desktops.

Hands on with openSuSE 13.1: Another outstanding release

Hands on with openSuSE 13.1: Another outstanding release

Hands on with openSuSE 13.1: Another outstanding release

The openSuSE distribution, available on their Downloads web page includes Live ISO images for KDE and Gnome 3 desktops (a bit over 1GB each), a full DVD Installer image (4.7GB), which of course can also be written to a sufficiently large USB stick, and a fairly small Net Installer image (about 300MB), which boots a minimal system and then downloads all the necessary packages for installation from the internet. 

It is important to note that the "Installer" images, DVD and Net, are just that - when booted, they can only run the installation program, they are not full-blown Live images.

Both of these installers include not only the KDE and Gnome desktops, but also Xfce, LXDE, Enlightenment, minimal X Windows, and text-only options. The advantage of the Net installer is that you always get the latest versions of the packages, so it avoids the "install and then immediately update" sequence.

This becomes more and more significant as time passes and the number of updates increases - remember, openSuSE is on an eight-month release schedule, so this version will be with us until sometime next summer.

Finally, this page also includes a "Rescue" image. This is a special image that is kept small enough to fit on a CD-R (or a USB stick, of course), and includes a number of specially selected utilities for repairing or recovering data from damaged systems. 

It is interesting to note that this image uses an Xfce desktop, presumably in the interest of keeping it small and lightweight; but it can not be used to install or upgrade a system, so it is not a "back door" way to get an Xfce Live installation media.

Third, I mentioned in the previous post that there was a problem with the Ralink 3290 driver, and I hoped that it would be fixed in the first batch of patches to come through. Well, unfortunately it wasn't, it still has a very inconsistent WiFi connection, which is quite frustrating.

This is actually nothing to do directly with openSuSE, as I mentioned there are various other distributions which have the same problem with that adapter, including Ubuntu 13.10, which also still hasn't fixed it. The problem has been fixed in Fedora (both 19 and 20), so I am still sure that the fix will make its way through to the other distributions - hopefully sometime soon.

Fourth, I have installed openSuSE 13.1 on one more system since the previous post - my very, very old Fujitsu-Siemens Lifebook S2110. 

This is a relic which had been on loan to some good friends, and has made several trips to Africa over the past few years. It is an old AMD Turion64 system with a Radeon Xpress 200 graphic controller, 13" 1024x768 screen, 2GB of memory, 150GB disk, Broadcom wired and Atheros wireless network adapter. 

It was still running Linux Mint 8 (heavens, what year was that from?), and the BIOS is so old that it wouldn't even boot from a USB stick.

No worries, I just burned the KDE Live image to a DVD-R, booted that and installed as normal. On the other hand, it originally came with Windows XP loaded, and although you could apparently get Windows Vista for it (at least it appears that way from what I can find out), that was the end of the (Windows) road, whereas it still runs the latest versions of Linux very well indeed.

Not only that, but since I was making a clean install on this system, I decided to make it my first btrfs test system, and it works perfectly, with btrfs as the one and only filesystem. Now I get to explore and learn about that!

Finally, the KDE Netbook desktop is still alive and well in this release. I have been remiss in not explicitly mentioning that a few times recently, but I still always use it on any of the 10" screen netbooks, and sometimes on the 11.6" screens as well, because it really is quite pleasant to work with.

Further reading

Topics: Linux, Open Source, Operating Systems

J.A. Watson

About J.A. Watson

I started working with what we called "analog computers" in aircraft maintenance with the United States Air Force in 1970. After finishing military service and returning to university, I was introduced to microprocessors and machine language programming on Intel 4040 processors. After that I also worked on, operated and programmed Digital Equipment Corporation PDP-8, PDP-11 (/45 and /70) and VAX minicomputers. I was involved with the first wave of Unix-based microcomputers, in the early '80s. I have been working in software development, operation, installation and support since then.

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  • AMD Turion64!

    Gosh, when was that released?

    Linux Mint 8 is based around 9.10. Mint 9 is 10.04, 10 is 10.10, 11 is 11.04, 12 is 11.10, 13 is 12.04, 14 is 12.10, 15 is 13.04, and 16 is 13.10.
    Grayson Peddie
    • Sometime before 2006

      I honestly can't tell you when I got the S2110 - but I can tell you that when I found that it would not boot from a USB stick, I went looking for BIOS updates, and the date on the most recent one was 12/06/06. I am honestly amazed at how well it works.

      Thanks for reading and commenting.

  • Display manager annoyance

    I upgraded my OpenSUSE this weekend only to discover that when I log out, I don't get a login prompt back and the keyboard freezes, not allowing me to switch to a virtual terminal. I'm working my way through this now remotely.
    John L. Ries
    • Fixed

      Stupid that the system makes you install Bluetooth support in order to have a working display manager.
      John L. Ries
  • 2006

    I have an AMD Windows box I assembled one year later that has went upgrade from Windows XP all the way through 8.1 (and yes, Vista was part of the path) and did just fine. And my 2007 iMac is alive and kicking too. But a Turion64 was a pretty featherweight machine (in performance) as I remember, and that a modern Linux build will run okay on it is pretty cool!
  • Looking forward to future articles on btrfs

    Rabid Howler Monkey
  • KDE and Gnome

    I abandoned KDE when it went to the goofy new interface (plasma) when I found incredibly annoying and went to Gnome....... Gnome unfortunately has become entirely unusable as far as I'm concerned. It's taken away the desktop entirely as a workspace, and made many things incredibly difficult and unintuitive... so I'm back to KDE Plasma. I've ordered my copy of the new distro and I'm praying for sanity!! Just give me something that is functional and intuitive. I find change or it's own sake loathsome!! Some of us out here just want something that works and is reliable!! Neither applies to Windows!!
    • Try XFCE

      That's my regular poison and is one of the choices with OpenSUSE.
      John L. Ries
  • Been wondering when btrfs would be ready...

    I'll have to try it on my next update. Still running Kubuntu 13.10 because I love KDE and all the tweaks and customization you can do, I may try out a suse version before the 14.04 update cycle hits.
    • Is btrfs ready for production? It depends ...

      According to, btrfs is still considered experimental and recommends that "you ... keep and test backups of your data, and be prepared to use them":

      This appears to be borne out by the [somewhat] current list of recommended distros for btrfs:

      o Debian testing/unstable
      o Fedora (testbed for RHEL)
      o openSUSE (testbed for SLES/SLED)
      o Ubuntu releases more recent than 12.04, the latest LTS

      Arch Linux and Gentoo both run Linux kernel versions that are older than recommended in the wiki:

      "If you have btrfs filesystems, run the latest kernel ... If you are running a kernel two or more versions behind the latest one available from, the first thing you will be asked to when you report a problem is to upgrade to the latest kernel. Some distributions keep backports of recent kernels to earlier releases ..."

      Currently, enterprise Linux support for btrfs appears to be limited to:

      o SUSE - SLES11 SP2
      o Oracle - Unbreakable Enterprise Kernel Release 2 for Oracle Linux

      According to Red Hat, btrfs is at the technology preview stage for RHEL 6:

      and btrfs is a planned feature for RHEL 7.

      Finally, waiting for the next Ubuntu LTS release, 14.04, seems like a reasonable strategy for enterprise Ubuntu users.
      Rabid Howler Monkey
  • NOT happy with openSUSE this time

    Jamie, I was going to install openSUSE 13.1 and use it for a week, and write up a review. I haven't looked at this distro in a long time.
    BUT....the live CDs (both GNOME and KDE) have disabled the Network Manager or it isn't included, and so I cannot get a WiFi connection at all. The wireless tab is greyed out and there seems to be no way, short of installing the distro, to scan for nearby connections. This is, in my opinion, unacceptable and ridiculous.
    They run off a USB flash drive okay, although sluggishly (compared to other "live" versions of distros). But I'm not going to install a distro that has no wifi capability!

    Not only that, but if you check the download section, both Direct Download and Bittorrent selections are broken and lead to dead pages. I had to go to a mirror to find a working link for a Live CD. The DVD links do seem okay, but I was hoping to get a Live version.
    Thomas Gellhaus
    • Live KDE WiFi worked for me

      I simply clicked on the network icon on the task bar, found my network, typed in my security key, and I was connected and ready to go. I have never tried openSUSE before but had read some good things about 13.1 so I thought I'd give it a look. Still some more playing around to do, but so far, I really like what I see. For the last several years, I've focused mostly on more streamlined distros, but I think I'm ready for a little more polish. If my printer also works from the live KDE version, i may be ready to install.
    • 12.3

      Each time I have installed 12.3 I encountered the same problem. This has been on 4 different computers with 4 different wireless cards. Each time on a shutdown and restart with the dvd inserted, it found the card and all went well. On 1 computer running under 7 or XP neither recognizes the card and I have to manually install drivers and do the setup.

      I have not tried 13.1 yet as I am well setup and not keen on doing reinstalls and am not sure if the programs I use will run on it. At least one has had numerous updates so I suspect there are some issues to iron out.