openSUSE Review: A Linux Distro for the Practical User

Opensuse Review Feature

When looking for a Linux distro, it’s easy to lose sight of the important differences between distros and get overwhelmed. The subtle differences can make all the difference in choosing a distro, and that’s where distro reviews like this come in. Here we discuss a long-standing member of the community that’s less common on the desktop but is still an excellent choice for your desktop in our review of openSUSE, a Linux distro for the practical user.

openSUSE First Impressions

When booting up openSUSE for the first time, at least with the Network Install ISO, I’m very impressed with the guided setup that YaST provides. YaST, or Yet Another Setup Tool, is the hallmark of openSUSE. It allows you to configure and manage your system from a simple graphical interface that takes a lot of the guesswork out of administering your system. I would feel very confident giving YaST to a first-time Linux user and letting them figure it out.

With the Network Install image, YaST is the first thing you boot to. It runs a few tasks for you, then presents you with the choices you need to make while providing sane defaults that will get you started on the right foot, particularly with things like Btrfs sub-voluming and repositories, which are very specific concepts to Linux that even power users from other OS won’t grasp at first.

Of all the installation processes I’ve worked with, I think that the installation experience with openSUSE and YaST is one of the better ones. Everything is drop-dead simple, and YaST really does the heavy lifting for you.

Opensuse Review Final Installation Screen

openSUSE User Experience

openSUSE gives you two desktop environment choices in the installer: KDE Plasma and GNOME. You can check out our reviews on each for more specifics on the differences between them to make sure you know which one to choose.

The way openSUSE sets up its system when you just choose a standard desktop system is quite interesting to me. You get a bunch of applications installed that may or may not be necessary, depending on your preference. I could see if you’re used to and really like a classic Windows 7 feel, that this particular rendition of Plasma and system configs would really speak to you, mostly because there are a bunch of games, office apps, and other programs installed. It’s a little overwhelming at first, but it’s perfect for someone who’s used to having a computer set up and ready to use out of the box.

YaST

I also like that the continuity of YaST continues into the installed system. It creates a particular experience when administering it that you may grow to really want in a workstation.

It’s easy to get a feel for what YaST is like because everything is very transparent to you as the user. Want to learn more about your hardware? Click on “Hardware Information.”

Opensuse Review Yast Hardware

Want to add a printer? Click Printer.

Opensuse Review Yast Printer

Want to add Virtualization packages? Click on “Install Hypervisor and Tools.”

Opensuse Review Yast Virtualization

Set up VNC for remote management? Click Remote Administration (VNC).

Opensuse Review Yast Vnc

You get the idea. YaST is a really great way to help a new user set up their system and get familiar with the extreme modularity and extensibility of Linux as a daily driver or workstation.

openSUSE Downsides

One thing I don’t much like about openSUSE is the relatively old kernel it’s using. 5.3 is in the range where it’s borderline if it’ll work well with particularly new or obscure hardware, so I wouldn’t plan to install openSUSE on your brand new workstation or laptop. It may have some issues with newer hardware.

Overall, openSUSE is an excellent distro for users wanting to set up a workstation or desktop that’s easy to manage and use but doesn’t have to do anything beyond standard workstation or desktop features. Gamers may not like openSUSE because of the older kernel.

I hope you enjoyed our openSUSE review. Make sure you check out some of our other Distro reviews, like GhostBSD, Clear Linux, MX Linux, and ArcoLinux.

John Perkins John Perkins

John is a young technical professional with a passion for educating users on the best ways to use their technology. He holds technical certifications covering topics ranging from computer hardware to cybersecurity to Linux system administration.

9 comments

    1. Yes , and I am still trying to figure out if I am a practical user, or an unpractical user! could someone define those terms for me?

      1. If you were a practical user, James, you’d be using that O/S from Washington State. Linux is for impractical users that do not follow the crowd. :P

    2. Yes , and I am still trying to figure out if I am a practical user, or an unpractical user! Could someone please define those terms for me?

  1. That openSUSE uses a basically obsolete kernel version is, unfortunately for me, a deal killer. Too bad too, because I’ve used openSUSE before and really liked it. Maybe they’ll update the version soon though, so it bears watching.

    1. One thing that is note written here.
      It use an old kernel but with backport!!! So it’s not a 5.3 vanilla kernel.

      For exemple in opensuse leap 15.3 renoir cpu and igp are totally supported, normally you have to have a 5.6/5.9 kernel for that, but because of backport it works too.

      So don t be stuck on the “kernel version”, and test it.
      If you need more recent, take tumbleweed witch have 5.10/5.11 kernel.

      The repo kernel could work but with it you could not have kernel source because of glibc so not really a solution for everybody.

    2. You can use OpenSuse TumbleWeed and you will have the newest kernel available (as an example, at the moment of writing, the version that TW run si 5.12.10-1).

  2. You wrote about openSUSE Leap. If you want to use a newer kernel fire up Yast, add the kernel repo and select the one you want. If you want the newest version of software chose openSUSE Tumbleweed instead of Leap.

  3. Have tried OpenSUSE (both versions)… it’s a bust. YsST simply crashes every time I try to use it. In fact, any OS that uses YaST seems to have the same issue on my.

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