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Ubuntu and Fedora aren’t the only major Linux distributions out there: there’s also openSUSE. This RPM-based distribution celebrated the release of version 13.1 on November 19th, and there’s a reason why this release is so important. OpenSUSE 13.1 is considered an “Evergreen” release, meaning that it’s going to be supported for 3 years – akin to Ubuntu’s LTS releases.
Let’s take a look at what makes openSUSE 13.1 so great.
OpenSUSE has a lot of items in common with other distributions – KDE as the default desktop environment, Firefox as the default browser, and a good selection of software to start out with. However, there are a few things that make it quite a bit different. For instance, openSUSE boasts is own control center for system settings called YaST. This takes care of everything from software and updates to hardware to network settings and more. The user settings that takes care of customization are still found in the KDE control center.
OpenSUSE also has a repository called Tumbleweed, which turns your installation into somewhat of a rolling release. It’s more stable than Fedora’s Rawhide (which I discussed here), but it’s also newer than the regular openSUSE repositories. In other words, it allows you to remain current on the software side while you stay stable on the operating system side. For instance: it will allow you to upgrade to a new major release of LibreOffice without having to wait for the next openSUSE release.
The openSUSE developers pride themselves on how stable this release, mentioning it’s because of some massive improvements to their openQA testing tool. OpenQA is essentially an automated way to test certain parts of openSUSE for general stability. Once a test is run under openQA, the developers can receive pass/fail results – as well as what needs to be fixed. I have to agree with the developers that this tool helps ensure the distribution’s stability – it’s always been a pretty stable distribution to use, and that hasn’t changed one bit with this release. Now it’s just easier for the developers to maintain that stability.
Thankfully, because it’s open source, it can eventually be used to test other distributions to ensure their stability as well.
Of course, as a new release of any distro, it comes with a lot of updated software. Additionally, this release of openSUSE offers new ARM ports, a new build to be used with Raspberry Pi, and experimental Wayland support. I’m especially surprised about the experimental Wayland support, since this is supposed to be a stable, long-term release that normally wouldn’t have “experimental” items in it.
Using openSUSE Daily
Using this distribution is very enjoyable, especially if you’ve used a KDE desktop before. The YaST control center does take a little getting used to, but it’s nice to use after that, especially because most distributions don’t have a graphical user interface as complete as YaST to manage everything about their system. The software selection is also more than acceptable – if you need to look up more software, you can do so by visiting the openSUSE Software search page. A lot of developers use openSUSE’s build services to make RPM packages for various distributions, so I’m sure you’ll find plenty of software here that you can use.
Besides this, using openSUSE is the same as using an Ubuntu system or a well-configured Fedora system. You’ll quickly find yourself being productive with available software rather than tinkering with the system. OpenSUSE also has a corporate sponsor, Attachmate Group, much like its top two competetors (Canonical for Ubuntu, Red Hat for Fedora). OpenSUSE is more like Fedora than Ubuntu, however, in that openSUSE is primarily community driven.
Ultimately, differences come from the community, the openSUSE infrastructure, and the tools like YaST that make openSUSE unique.
How To Get It
You can download the latest release of openSUSE from their download page. You can then burn the resulting ISO image file onto a DVD or a USB stick with sufficient capacity. You can also just use the ISO image file with a virtual machine such as VirtualBox.
If you’ve never taken a look at openSUSE before, I definitely recommend that you do in some way. I wouldn’t call openSUSE quite as easy as Ubuntu and Linux Mint, but it’s a bit more stable than both of them. Also, there’s plenty of software available for openSUSE, so you should rarely feel left out.
Are you a fan of openSUSE? What do or don’t you like about it? Let us know in the comments!
Image Credit: xenne