Wednesday, November 27, 2013

OpenSUSE 13.1 KDE Review: Very refined and functional!

I have been wanting to review OpenSUSE for quite sometime but somehow lost interest in OpenSUSE last year. However, with the release of OpenSUSE 12.3, my interest in OpenSUSE was back but I didn't get much time to critically review it. So, I was eagerly waiting for the 13.1 release to come out. Now after having used 13.1 for around a couple of weeks, I am finally penning down my review. Why a couple of weeks of wait for OpenSUSE? Because I have become quite an expert in Ubuntu and Arch Linux spins but my knowledge was pretty limited as far as OpenSUSE is concerned. So, it took a bit of my time to learn and then critically evaluate this distro.
From OpenSUSE 13.1 http://mylinuxexplore.blogspot.in

For this review, I downloaded the 4.1 GB 32-bit and 4.3 GB 64-bit ISOs which come with both GNOME 3 and KDE desktop along with a whole lot of application. I downloaded both as I wanted to install the 64 bit version to my production laptop. For this test, I used a couple of machines:

  • Asus K55VM laptop with 2.3 Ghz Intel Core i7 3610QM processor, 8 GB DDR3 RAM and NVIDIA GeForce GT 630M 2 GB graphics
  • Asus K54C laptop with 2.2 Ghz Intel Core i3 processor, 2 GB DDR3 RAM and Intel HD 3000 graphics

The first one is my production laptop and after using Debian and Ubuntu derivatives for the last 3 years on it, I wanted a change. The second one is on which I record the RAM / CPU usage for comparison purposes.

OpenSUSE has a 900 MB live ISO as well for both GNOME and KDE desktop. I chose the heavier DVD as I wanted to see what extra it gives over the lighter version. Anyway, I used Linux Mint Imagewriter and an 8 GB pendrive to create a live USB of OpenSUSE. I didn't try out Unetbootin and not sure how OpenSUSE works with Unetbootin. Anyway, Mint Imagewriter is derived from OpenSUSE Imagewriter and I hoped it would work with OpenSUSE. And it worked really well.

I tried out the KDE platform and not the GNOME one. OpenSUSE 13.1 ships with KDE 4.11.2 and Linux kernel 3.11.6. Dolphin 4.11.2 is the default file manager.


Aesthetics
OpenSUSE 13.1 retains the same elegant interface of OpenSUSE 12.3. The all black theme with OpenSUSE wallpaper really makes this distro class apart among all the KDE distros I have used. The all black desktop theme is special to OpenSUSE and the windows theme is Oxygen, like most of the other KDE distros I've used this year. I like the professional feel of the theme.

From OpenSUSE 13.1 http://mylinuxexplore.blogspot.in
Anyway, if you don't like it, there are plenty of other themes available in transparent and white. There is no dearth of customization in KDE for sure.

One great thing is that LibreOffice splash is tweaked to include OpenSUSE icon and the splash color gels pretty well with the overall OpenSUSE theme of black and green.
From OpenSUSE 13.1 http://mylinuxexplore.blogspot.in

One thing disappointed me in OpenSUSE KDE is the way applications like Google Chrome or LibreOffice appear. They somehow don't gel with the overall theme and the menu bar looks pretty ugly due to Qt / Gtk conflict. Anyway, there is a way out which I'll discuss in my article.
From OpenSUSE 13.1 http://mylinuxexplore.blogspot.in

I used conky manager and a different wallpaper to create my own customized desktop here.

From OpenSUSE 13.1 http://mylinuxexplore.blogspot.in
In overall, there are not many KDE spins in the Linux world with the same refinement and class as OpenSUSE. It is actually a treat to the eyes and I could easily create the special effects like desktop cube and cylinder.

From OpenSUSE 13.1 http://mylinuxexplore.blogspot.in
Making Applications beautiful in OpenSUSE
This I got from Muktware and it worked for me. The idea is to remove libreoffice kde packages and install libreoffice gnome ones, by running the following commands as root:
#zypper rm libreoffice-kde4
#zypper in libreoffice-gnome

Hardware Recognition
OpenSUSE automatically recognized wifi, LAN, touchpad, sound card and screen resolution without any manual intervention. Hardware recognition is top class in OpenSUSE and as good as any other Ubuntu / Ubuntu spin I've used.

Installation
It took me flat 15 minutes to install OpenSUSE 13.1. The graphical installer is pretty simple and logical to use. I installed OpenSUSE on two computers in flat 30 minutes! Questions are pretty simple: Time Zone, Desktop Selection (GNOME/KDE), disk choice (may require a bit of time if you go for partitioning and formating), user ID creation and then post installation, set up the automatic configuration.
From OpenSUSE 13.1 http://mylinuxexplore.blogspot.in

Applications
OpenSUSE 13.1 comes with most of the basic applications that I need on daily basis, like:
  • Office: LibreOffice 4.1.2.3 Base, Calc, Draw, Impress, Writer, Okular Document viewer, Kaddressbook, Kontact, Korganizer
  • Internet: Firefox 25, Konqueror, Kmail, Choqok microblogging client, Konversation, Kopete IM, Akregator, Ktorrent, Kget download manager, KrDC, Krfb
  • Graphics: GIMP 2.8.6, Hugin batch processor & panorama creator, digiKam photo management, DNG Image Converter, Expo blending, Panorama, Photo layout management program, ShowFoto, AcquireImages, Gwenview image viewer, Skanlite image scanner
  • Multimedia: Amarok audio player, AMZ downloader, K3b disc burning, Kaffeine media player, KsCD CD Player
  • Accessories: Ark, Nepomuk backup & Cleaner, Blue Devil, Knotes, Ksnapshot, Qt4 settings, Kompare, Kwrite, Kgpg, Kleopatra, Sweeper, Kcalc, Printer manager, Klipper, Kwallet manager
Flash plugin or restricted multimedia codecs are not installed by default.
Like Fedora, as a policy, OpenSUSE doesn't ship with Adobe flash plugin or non-free multimedia codecs. However, it is not a deterrent as OpenSUSE is backed by pretty solid documentation to help novice users with 1-click install of all these. I'll deal with installing essential programs in a separate section.
Overall, I checked out almost every application and they work as expected. Most of the daily need applications are shipped by default and hence, I didn't have a whole lot to install.

OpenSUSE documentation
OpenSUSE wiki is available in a lot of prominent European and Asian languages apart from English. It explains in details the intricacies of OpenSUSE, though I didn't get much information on 13.1.

http://doc.opensuse.org/ is another official source of documentation on the releases till 12.3. The 13.1 release document is available in activedocs.

Further, on typical specific requests like install skype in opensuse, I got a whole of official and unofficial links to install the application resolving all dependencies. For example, http://opensuse-guide.org/, though unofficial, but it is very good and simple.

Further, there are one-click install options as well for packages which I found really handy.
From OpenSUSE 13.1 http://mylinuxexplore.blogspot.in

In nutshell, OpenSUSE has very rich documentation and they are pretty handy for Linux novices.

Installing NVIDIA graphics in OpenSUSE 13.1
Now one thing I didn't find is how to install NVIDIA graphics in OpenSUSE 13.1 documentation. 1-click NVIDIA drivers are available for 12.3 but it doesn't work for 13.1. Fortunately, I landed to Smithfarm's blog from OpenSUSE forums and the solution provided there actually helped to install Bumblebee in OpenSUSE 13.1. Following the instructions, as given below, I could make bumblebee work to minimize laptop heating.
From OpenSUSE 13.1 http://mylinuxexplore.blogspot.in


Installing packages using 1-click install
I installed the following packages using 1-click install
I found the 1-click install more convenient than searching through the repos. Upon clicking the 1-click installer, packages get installed through YaST.

Post installation of multimedia codecs, Kaffeine really worked well.

From OpenSUSE 13.1 http://mylinuxexplore.blogspot.in
Further, Adobe flash plugin 11.2 worked well with Firefox and Chromium browser. Google Chrome has it's own latest Adobe flash plugin 11.9 and it works better in online streaming than the Adobe version for Linux.

From OpenSUSE 13.1 http://mylinuxexplore.blogspot.in
Installing Google Chrome in OpenSUSE 13.1
Though I understand Chromium almost provides the same proposition as Google Chrome but I have a personal preference for Google Chrome due to the latest Adobe flash plugin. To install Google Chrome, open Root terminal and run the following commands:
For 64-bit:
#zypper ar http://dl.google.com/linux/chrome/rpm/stable/x86_64 Google-Chrome
#zypper ref
#zypper in google-chrome-stable

For 32-bit
#zypper ar http://dl.google.com/linux/chrome/rpm/stable/i386 Google-Chrome

#zypper ref
#zypper in google-chrome-stable

Repositories
OpenSUSE repositories are accessed through YaST control center and Apper. I found YaST a bit fascinating as it is all in one control center in OpenSUSE. Be it software download or system configuration change or firewall activation, everything can be done through YaST.
From OpenSUSE 13.1 http://mylinuxexplore.blogspot.in

From OpenSUSE 13.1 http://mylinuxexplore.blogspot.in
I found OpenSUSE to be actually very rich in applications. Almost all third party applications have packages for OpenSUSE as well. For 13.1, by default, packages are sourced from official repositories (OSS, Non-OSS, Update, etc.). Contrib repos are not there beyond version 11.4.

From OpenSUSE 13.1 http://mylinuxexplore.blogspot.in
I downloaded Chromium, VLC, Conky, etc. using YaST and it installs applications pretty fast, resolving all dependencies.

From OpenSUSE 13.1 http://mylinuxexplore.blogspot.in
Performance
User experience is very good in OpenSUSE 13.1 though my benchmarking test recorded pretty high RAM usage for the 32-bit version on Asus K54C. If I compare to other 32-bit KDE distros that I have benchmarked in 2013 on the same machine, OpenSUSE seems to be a bit taxing on the resources.


Operating System Size of ISO Base Desktop Linux kernel CPU Usage RAM usage Size of installation
OS4 Openlinux 13.7 1.6 GB Ubuntu KDE 4.11.0 3.2.0 1-5% 203 MB 4.73 GB
Kubuntu 12.04.3 LTS with KDE 4.11 - Ubuntu KDE 4.11.0 3.8.0 1-5% 220 MB 4.05 GB
Mageia 3 KDE 1.4 GB Mandriva KDE 4.10.2 3.8.0 1-10% 233 MB
Kubuntu 13.10 1.1 GB Ubuntu KDE 4.11.2 3.11.0 1-10% 250 MB 3.81 GB
PCLinuxOS 2013.02 KDE 1.4 GB PCLinuxOS KDE 4.9.5 3.2.18 1-10% 250 MB
Fedora 19 KDE 884 MB Fedora KDE 4.10.4 3.9.8 1-10% 251 MB 3.12 GB
Mint 14 KDE 1.1 GB Ubuntu KDE 4.9.2 3.5.0 1-5% 255 MB
Kubuntu 12.04.3 LTS 738 MB Ubuntu KDE 4.8.5 3.8.0 1-5% 259 MB 3.05 GB
Mint 15 KDE 1.4 GB Ubuntu KDE 4.10.5 3.8.0 1-10% 263 MB 6.09 GB
Mint 13 KDE 960 MB Ubuntu KDE 4.8.3 3.2.0 1-5% 270 MB
Kubuntu 13.04 1 GB Ubuntu KDE 4.10.2 3.8.0 1-10% 276 MB
SolydK 2013.09 1.5 GB Debian KDE 4.11.1 '3.10.2 1-5% 278 MB 5.17 GB
Debian 7 KDE 680 MB Debian KDE 4.8.4 3.2.0 1-10% 290 MB
Slackel 14 KDE 1 GB Slackware KDE 4.8.4 3.2.29 1-10% 300 MB
Kubuntu 12.04.1 LTS 738 MB Ubuntu KDE 4.8.4 3.2.0 1-10% 310 MB
Kubuntu 12.10 999.6 MB Ubuntu KDE 4.9.2 3.5.0 1-10% 314 MB
Sabayon 13.08 KDE 2.3 GB Gentoo KDE 4.10.5 3.10.0 1-10% 315 MB 6.11 GB
Sabayon 11 KDE 2.1 GB Gentoo KDE 4.9.5 3.7.0 1-10% 320 MB
Bridge KDE 1 GB Arch KDE 4.9.3 3.6.7 1-10% 330 MB
KWheezy 1.1 3.9 GB Debian KDE 4.8.4 3.2.0 1-10% 335 MB 11.87GB
ROSA 2012 Marathon KDE 1.5 GB Mandriva KDE 4.8.3 3.0.38 1-10% 340 MB
Neptune 3.2 2.1 GB Ubuntu KDE 4.10.5 3.10.5 1-10% 349 MB 6.20 GB
OpenSUSE 13.1 KDE 4.1 GB OpenSUSE KDE 4.11.2 3.11.6 1-10% 350 MB 4.47 GB
Slackel KDE 4.9.2 1.1 GB Slackware KDE 4.9.2 3.2.29 1-10% 355 MB
Manjaro 0.8.5 KDE 2.0 GB Arch KDE 4.10.2 3.8.8 1-10% 358 MB
OpenSUSE 12.2 KDE 704 MB OpenSUSE KDE 4.8.4 3.4.6 1-10% 366 MB
Sabayon 13.04 KDE 2.3 GB Gentoo KDE 4.10.2 3.8.0 1-10% 380 MB

For 64 bit version, I recorded a RAM usage of 436 MB and CPU usage of 1-10% on Asus K55VM. It is actually comparable to other 64 bit KDE distros I have used and in fact, more efficient than Chakra Fritz.

From OpenSUSE 13.1 http://mylinuxexplore.blogspot.in
Numbers aside, OpenSUSE is very smooth to use and very stable. This is a distro excellent for production purposes undoubtedly and right now my first choice to get over Ubuntu fatigue.

Overall
I am not yet an expert to judge who makes the best KDE distros but OpenSUSE appears to be better than any Debian or Ubuntu KDE spins I have used. It works flawlessly and is really pleasing to the eyes. My user experience was much better in OpenSUSE than Kubuntu or Fedora KDE. The 64-bit version seems to perform better than the 32-bit version in terms of resource usage. Actually last week only I thought of wiping out all other Linux distros installed on my Asus K55VM and installing OpenSUSE 13.1. However, I got stuck with Nvidia drivers and overheating of my laptop. Now that it is resolved, this weekend, I am going to take a backup and re-install OpenSUSE wiping out other distros that I've installed.

This is a gem of a distro in my opinion and should not challenge even Linux novices. Stability is unparallel and is upgradable. I can safely recommend OpenSUSE to anyone looking for a great KDE spin.

You can download 32 and 64 bit GNOME and KDE ISO's from here. Also OpenSUSE studio allows users to create their own customized OSs. You can create your own customized LXDE or XFCE spins from there.

29 comments:

  1. But still, I don't know why the fonts look so ugly, even after enabling anti-aliasing in KDE settings. I was very eagerly waiting to install it, but after failing to make the fonts look at least decent, I refrained. It may appear as a subjective issue. I agree. But my only point is, isn't it a basic requirement for one to make it as their primary OS and work for long hours with it in office/home ? The bad fonts really hurt the eye. I really wish someone in OpenSuse give a notice to it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. add repo http://download.opensuse.org/repositories/home:/muzlocker/openSUSE_Factory/
      and zypper ref; zypper dup
      downgrade libfreetype6 to 2.4 version e lock it

      Delete
    2. add repo http://download.opensuse.org/repositories/home:/muzlocker/openSUSE_Factory/
      and zypper ref; zypper dup
      downgrade libfreetype6 to 2.4 version e lock it

      Delete
    3. 13.1 is shipping freetype 2.5.0.1 ... Can't the issue be fixed by using 2.5.2 (the most recent version) ?
      It seems there is a package on https://build.opensuse.org/package/binaries/home:vjsanjay/Infinality?repository=openSUSE_13.1
      I'm considering moving from Ubuntu to OpenSuse or Fedora Core and clearly good font rendering will be a crtiteria

      Delete
  2. However, the fonts in the screen shots of this review look comparatively better (but not as wonderful as my Arch Linux + InfinalityBundle fonts and configs though). I've downloaded and tried the KDE live ISO. Does it make any difference ? I've even seen someone commenting the same (that the fonts look ugly) on OpenSuse site, here, though I didn't like the author's tone in that comment. And also in this post. There are some more similar posts.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I am an avid reader of your Linux reviews, and this is certainly one of your best, so thanks for all the detail and effort. This is the first review I have ever wanted to print as it contains so much extra information that is practical and will help now and in the future. I have been a Gnome addict for some time but I may give the KDE version a spin as it looks so great after your work on it. You are definitely a great reviewer 10 out 0f 10. Thank you so much.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Stan,
      Thanks for liking my review. Your feedback means a lot to me.
      Regards,
      Arindam

      Delete
  4. Keep style of hinting as medium via KDE settingsto get better font rendering. Also cross-check if freetype is at least 2.X.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Related to the ugly font rendering. IMHO Ubuntu (or XUbuntu, which I prefer over its big brother Ubuntu) is better in that area. However, one can install fetchmsttfonts, which gives you some high quality Microsoft true type fonts, or the Ubuntu fonts as well. Also, if you have access to any windows machine, copy tahoma.ttf and install it on your opensuse instance. I use Tahoma size 9 with full hinting and other than the occasional application which has its own idea of what fonts to use, everything looks really great.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Take a look @ Muzelocker repositories.. it may help your eyes !

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Great! Let me check it out today. If required I'll request you for details.

      Delete
  7. hello sir
    i also have asus k55vm,
    1. can u please tell me any linux version which has least bugs and resembles mac os x.
    2. also nvdia drivers for that linux version
    3. are nvdia drivers for pear os available
    i havent use linux much till now except ubuntu for few hours a month
    thanks

    ReplyDelete
  8. hello sir
    i also have asus k55vm,
    1. can u please tell me any linux version which has least bugs and resembles mac os x.
    2. also nvdia drivers for that linux version
    3. are nvdia drivers for pear os available
    i havent use linux much till now except ubuntu for few hours a month
    thanks

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Ankur,
      You can do as cat said to create your own customized mac os x clone. If you find it difficult, try pear os or elementary linux. Both are really good and look like mac. Elementary os is specially creating waves among the Linux fraternity. You have to install bumblebee for nvidia support. You can check my blog for both and specially pear os where I've discussed nvidia support.
      Please feel free to let me know in case you get stuck.

      Regards,
      Arindam

      Delete
    2. thanks sir
      i think installing ubuntu and then customizing it will be better option for me.
      i just wanted to know from u that when do u expect ubuntu 14 to be released.

      Delete
    3. Hi Ankur:

      Elementary OS and Pear OS are both Ubuntu only. They are forked from Ubuntu and are easy to use as Ubuntu itself. Further, you have to install GNOME fallback to tweak Unity and make it look like Mac OS X.

      Thanks,
      Arindam

      Delete
  9. Ankur,

    1. From my experience Mint, Ubuntu spins (XUbuntu, KUbuntu, LUbuntu) and openSUSE are quite stable and beginner friendly (x/kubuntu more so). Haven't used pclinuxos but from my readings that one seems stable and easy to use as well. As for resembling mac, this is the beauty of Linux, it's by far the most customizable OS. I usually pick an XFCE desktop then move a few things around and make it look pretty much like windows xp as that kind of desktop fits the best to the type of work I do. So if you want to have fun and learn in the process, you can get started with one of the better XFCE distros and learn how to customize yourself to your liking. It's pretty easy and there is a lot of information on how to do it. You just need to google it. Conversely, there are some distros that look like mac os, but IMHO the resemblance is not that great.

    2. For the nvidia drivers, some distros just come with them, it's all a matter of selecting them or the open source ones.

    ReplyDelete
  10. You were too generous in your review of openSuse 13.1. What we have here friends is a very incomplete distro, maybe even beta quality. You can't install nvidia drivers and that makes it somewhat useless for some. Don't tell me that they will be fixing that problem soon so there really isn't a problem. It shouldn't have been released with the crashes it has and with no descent video drivers. So what if updates fixes a lot of the problems. That just means that they released a defective product and the user has to fix it. That's too bad because it's really a nice looking distro on the surface. May be okay to recommend to an experienced user but not to a novice. It is better than past releases but then again just about everything is. The question still remains, why did they release an unfinished distro? I use to use and love openSuse but some of their past releases left a bad taste in my mouth. I hope they do improve, and soon.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Eddie:

      I agree that OpenSUSE lost a few loyal users during the phase in which Novell was controlling it. However, I find the 13.1 release pretty good and stable for production purposes. The desktop design is pretty catchy and render a bit of uniqueness to the distro. As far my experience with OpenSUSE goes, it didn't crash a single time during my usage and I'm still using it for my regular work.

      For restricted multimedia codecs, I agree it is more convenient to use OSs with all audio-video codecs pre-installed. But, it is OpenSUSE policy to use only free softwares and I respect that. Even Fedora and a lot of other RedHat spins follow the same principle. Anyway, there are very easy to install and that too on a single click of the mouse, as explained in my article.

      I am personally enjoying the OpenSUSE experience and I hope many other users like me are doing so.

      Regards,
      Arindam

      Delete
    2. Well, I could agree with the review. Few years ago I wanted a binary distro after 6 years of gentoo usage, since I get bored on compile time (gentoo still my choice for servers). I can say its pretty good and veery stable (wehich is teh most important thing for me). OpenSUSE have some really unique things for some gtk+ programs such as firefox which allows me to use the kde open/save dialogs when I download or save. Yast is also unique and very useful. It teached me to a lot of tricks about desktop system configuration (alsa, cups, etc.) it set up many things properly by a click what I wasn't able to do by hand before. And I can personally agree with this: "I am not yet an expert to judge who makes the best KDE distros but OpenSUSE appears to be better than any Debian or Ubuntu KDE spins I have used." For me at least... for me.

      Delete
    3. Thanks for liking my review. I really find OpenSUSE a distro perfect for production and day to day activities. I hope this year we get to see more of opensuse.

      Delete
  11. You were too generous in your review of openSuse 13.1. What we have here friends is a very incomplete distro, maybe even beta quality. You can't install nvidia drivers and that makes it somewhat useless for some. Don't tell me that they will be fixing that problem soon so there really isn't a problem. It shouldn't have been released with the crashes it has and with no descent video drivers. So what if updates fixes a lot of the problems. That just means that they released a defective product and the user has to fix it. That's too bad because it's really a nice looking distro on the surface. May be okay to recommend to an experienced user but not to a novice. It is better than past releases but then again just about everything is. The question still remains, why did they release an unfinished distro? I use to use and love openSuse but some of their past releases left a bad taste in my mouth. I hope they do improve, and soon.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. To a certain extent you're right that nvidia drivers are not directly available in the repos. But I successfully installed bumblebee and made it work from a third party repo. It is documented in my blog.

      Delete
  12. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  13. hi i found this review really helpful, i wanted to try something different, i've tried many ubuntu/debian based distro so many times, it's basically the same in installing apps using sudo apt-get and etc, i wanted to try this one it looks good, especially kde, my fave behind the cinnamon one,
    i made an live usb using win32 disk imager using livedvd the 0.9 GB size one if im not mistaken, but after i booted it, i found it really slow laggy, idk but with another distro it runs smoothly,
    do i have to use the dvd sized one for the live usb? what's the differences by the way between the dvd sized iso and the smaller one? thanks mr. arindam

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Randi:

      OpenSUSE is a bit heavier than Ubuntu/Debian. If you note the table in my article, it is in the bottom half in terms of RAM usage. Further, OpenSUSE performs better when installed. So, if you have a system with less than 2 GB RAM, please avoid OpenSUSE. Else, please install it to your hard drive to get optimal performance.

      Regards,
      Arindam

      Delete
  14. There is no sound while playing something through wine in openSUSE 13.1; how can i overcome it? badly in need of help in this regard.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Is it 64-bit or 32-bit OS you're running? If you are running 64-bit OpenSUSE, then installing alsa-plugins-pulse-32bit may help you to get sound.

      Thanks,
      Arindam

      Delete