Spotlight on Linux: openSUSE 11.3

openSUSE began its life in 1994 in Germany as SuSE Linux and was based on Slackware Linux. It was a commercial offering, and although it adhered to the letter of the GPL, it wasn't easy for desktop users to download and install. Novell bought SuSE in 2004 and opened it up for community participation and enjoyment in August 2005. From then on, users could download and easily install the now-dubbed openSUSE. openSUSE earned lots of attention and happy users until its controversial patent agreement with Microsoft, but openSUSE slowly has been regaining some lost ground ever since.

The distribution is always of the highest quality with a professional feel and polish. Novell employs full-time developers to work on openSUSE and community projects, because many of the innovations first seen in openSUSE will end up in Novell's commercial SUSE Enterprise edition. Novell has a vigorous testing routine, ensuring that most bugs are eliminated. As a result, openSUSE is truly one of the leading and best distributions in Linux today.

The distribution itself is rock stable, features plenty of software and includes one of the best control centers in existence. New releases, seen about every 6 to 12 months, usually come in 32- and 64-bit versions with a choice of exhaustive install DVD or desktop-specific installable live CDs. It uses the RPM package management format and maintains large repositories of software. Community repos include proprietary drivers, codecs and extra software.

The YaST Control Center is the central hub for configuring and customizing your openSUSE system as well as installing or removing software. From it, you can setup a firewall, configure boot and login options, set up a virtual environment, edit partitions, set up hardware and network configurations, customize AppArmor settings and much more. Its only rival is perhaps Mandriva's Control Center.

Version 11.3 was released on July 15 and has been met with overwhelmingly positive reviews. It ships with Linux 2.6.34, Xorg X Server 1.8.0, GCC 4.5, KDE 4.4.4, GNOME 2.30, Xfce 4.6.1 and LXDE 0.5.5. It even includes a preview of GNOME 3.0. Its software includes 3.2.1, Mozilla Firefox 3.6.6, GIMP 2.6.8, plus many extras like support for the new Btrfs and a variety of Netbooks. Nouveau is the new default NVIDIA graphic driver. Upstart and Grub2 are two experimental options. Users might even opt for the newly included MariaDB in lieu of MySQL. This release has been described as impressive, fast, stable, polished and kick {posterior}. In other words, this is another great release.

Some advantages of openSUSE are a professionally crafted rock-solid system, a large and helpful community, handy community extras, regular updates and new releases, and commercial support available (with SLED). Disadvantages are having to use the community packages or install proprietary drivers and certain multimedia codecs yourself, and the agreement with Microsoft still leaves a bad taste in some people's mouths.

It's hard to find another Linux distribution equal to openSUSE. Many try, but most fail. It's an excellent choice for any level of user from beginner to developer.


Susan Linton is a Linux writer and the owner of


Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.

how to make a bootable USB stick with the full DVD version

John3's picture

Instead of burning the full DVD installer of 11.3 to a DVD, I'd like to make a bootable 8GB USB so that it is easy to carry and use yet with full features. The question is how to make such a USB from a 11.3 DVD iso? Thanks.

There is this neat site

mikesd's picture

There is this neat site called that will allow you to search and find sites as such:

Imagine that.

That which does not kill me only postpones the inevitable.

LOL, now people depend

John3's picture

LOL, now people depend everything on google without reading your site carefully: "The following does not work for 11.3 because of Bug #623226."

Plus, in order to make an OSS 11.3 USB, you have to have OSS 11.2? Ha... Imagine that.

was it so funny you had to

mikesd's picture

was it so funny you had to reply twice?

here asshole

That which does not kill me only postpones the inevitable.

Assxxxx: blame your own web

John3's picture

Assxxxx: blame your own web site, which loaded forever.

Also Assxxxx: why do you assume everyone has to create a USB from a linux machine? You are so narrow minded. How can you gain confidence from other OS users? You actually don't deserve using Linux at all. Just say you don't know. Enjoy, assxxxx.

I didn't assume anything you

mikesd's picture

I didn't assume anything you twit. I simply ran a web search that you obviously didn't. If you were more specific in your question, then maybe you would have gotten a more specific answer. You get the answers based on your question. So either learn how to ask questions or just stick with Windows.

That which does not kill me only postpones the inevitable.

Once again you have shown how

John3's picture

Once again you have shown how narrow minded you are. You simply assumed everyone else didn't know anything. How did you know I hadn't searched? I was asking for expertise advice, just not from you. You do understand that had been and still are lots of other OSs besides Windows and Linux. Just for your info, I am using AIX. Haven't heard of it? Just search ... BTW, don't have to use google. Imagine that.

Here's your exact question

mikesd's picture

Here's your exact question you troll.

"The question is how to make such a USB from a 11.3 DVD iso"

So now tell me....from that question how am I supposed to know what OS you want to do it from? I know what AIX is. I also know what Solaris is and HP UX and other unix systems. But you ask a broad question, I can't read your mind. So if you don't like the answers you get, ask better questions. So now go back under your bridge.

That which does not kill me only postpones the inevitable.

OK, you won. Wow, you know so

John3's picture

OK, you won. Wow, you know so many OSs. Incredible! Now enjoy your bridge.

LOL, now people depend

John3's picture

LOL, now people depend everything on google without reading your site carefully: "The following does not work for 11.3 because of Bug #623226."

Plus, in order to make a 11.3 USB, you have to have 11.2? Ha... Imagine that.

So which linux is playing the

Anonymous's picture

So which linux is playing the role of: Throw live CD out, go back to windows? A: Just about all of them.

if you hate linux then get

Anonymous's picture

if you hate linux then get off linux sites and go to windows forums then. this isn't the place for being ignorant like that.


Shankara's picture

It is always nice to see new release of a Linux distribution. I congratulate Open Suse team for their good job. Never compare between Linux distributions. Each one is playing its role in the GNU/Linux Ecosystem.


Barista Uno's picture

Thanks for the review. I wish, though, that you had gone into a bit more detail when making a big statement such as "The distribution is always of the highest quality with a professional feel and polish."

At any rate, your paeans to openSUSE 11.3 have me sufficiently intrigued to try it out soon on my desktop. I already have Peppermint OS on my netbook, and it's so good I shan't replace it with another distro unless there are compelling reasons.

I'd say Zypper and YaST are

mikesd's picture

I'd say Zypper and YaST are compelling enough, but I'm biased towards OpenSUSE. I played with 11.3 on a live CD because I'm not ready to upgrade my system yet from 11.2. It needs hardware and software upgrades. None the less, what OS has done w/ KDE 4.4 and 4.5 if you install factory repos is quite good. OpenSuse's information portals are great too, and not just the mail lists. I'd recommend pulling the OS Live CD in either KDE or Gnome,pick your poison, and play around with it.

That which does not kill me only postpones the inevitable.

Thanks for the additional

Barista Uno's picture

Thanks for the additional info. I've never tried openSUSE before. If it's as good as you and many others say, I just might install it on my desktop as well as my netbook. I understand openSUSE 11.3 is available in lxde flavour. So that ought to be suitable for my ageing netbook.

partitioning at install-time

cornel panceac's picture

of all the distros, stable and alpha (ubuntu,fedora, mandriva, slackware, etc), only opensuse 11.3 changed the partitions order at install time, thus making other operating systems unusable. so be warned.


mikesd's picture

I have yet to see ANY Linux install that doesn't let you customize a partition table. If you mean it writes grub to the MBR, you can fix that too.

That which does not kill me only postpones the inevitable.

what i meant is that suse

cornel panceac's picture

what i meant is that suse decided by itself to give different numbers to the existing and supposedly untouched partitions. the fact that it can be fixed is good, but i like better the operating systems which does not need to be fixed.
nice signature, by the way :)

I still don't understand what

mikesd's picture

I still don't understand what you mean and how it makes other OS' inoperative. I've dual booted with Suse numerous times. Everything is customizable.

That which does not kill me only postpones the inevitable.

It's OK, but the jury is still out

LeeJ409's picture

I just finished upgrading 200 machines from 11.1 to 11.3. In the process we lost KDE3 :( No way to launch a KDE3 desktop, only KDE4, which has become merely eyecandy with plenty o' bloat. Nepomuk, anyone? How about an instance of community mysql server for each user to use KDEPIM (kmail, kaddressbook)? No thanks! The nail in the coffin was Dolphin (file manager). It was so unstable for us that we declared KDE4 not ready for primetime, and switched to gnome. My only gripe is that gdm comes with a non-themable simple greeter; it otherwise works quite well. In true openSUSE form there's also the maddening package interdependencies. Just try getting rid of xorg and you'll see what I mean.

All in all, even with a number of large warts, it's still a pretty good (free!) distro.

There was a bug in the kernel

mikesd's picture

There was a bug in the kernel that caused dbus to crash. A update from kernel:head repo fixes that. see here:

KDE 3, people, is dead. You can activate and install KDE3 still, but it's no longer being developed and supported. It's gone. Accept and move on. Suse isn't the only distro dropping KDE3. Eventually you'll have to move on. Just because OS defaults to KDE doesn't mean the OS is a bad OS. I like KDE4, but you're free to use Gnome if you'd like.

That which does not kill me only postpones the inevitable.

Floating Stability

LnxGnome's picture

I've used (open)SuSE Linux since release 6.1, but to call it "rock stable" is laughable. Typical x.0 and x.1 releases are useable (barely), but contain a lot a major bugs. You may also see major feature changes between x.0 and x.1 (like the near fatal introduction of zypper, which didn't work for most users as initially delivered).
x.2 is usually stable enough for production work, but not always.
The x.3 release is usually what I'd call the first (and usually last) stable release of every major version.

Another thing that is hurting openSuSE now (since the 11.x releases), is their "support" structure, which drops the previous 'stable'/x.3 release (no security updates, and the main repositories are taken offline) when no new stable release is available yet (i.e. 11.2 came out, was still unstable, 10.3 "support" disappeared).

So, why still use openSuSE? In a nutshell, YaST. I still find openSuSE to be the easiest and most hassle-free (updater excluded) distro to administer, mostly thanks to YaST.
I can spend more time getting work done with a stable openSuSE platform, and less time tweaking it to make it work.

This mockery of a distro is

Alejandro Nova's picture

This mockery of a distro is pathetic. I could easily crash the LiveCD trying to set my desktop options. CRASH A LIVECD. I can't replicate this with any release to date (Kubuntu, Fedora KDE, even Chakra alpha run fine here and don't crash when I boot them with their LiveCDs).

That, and a constant strain of crashes, pain and suffering with anyone who dares to use NVIDIA drivers, make me to strongly advice against OpenSuSE.

What you state here is simply

Anonymous's picture

What you state here is simply not true. I used OpenSuse since versions 10.x, with Nvidia drivers. I upgraded relatively easy from 11.2 to 11.3, and after the proper nVidia drivers came available shortly afterwards, everything was fine. Everybody can check this on the opensuse forums.
In the Netherlands we have a name for people like you, who focus on negative aspects only and blow things out of proportions: vinegar-drinker. Enjoy yourself on your one and don't bother to bash this site.

The default font

Pétur Ingi Egilsson's picture

Have they fixed the font rendering?

Mandriva 2010.1 Spring was a

Anonymous's picture

Mandriva 2010.1 Spring was a rather unfortunate release for me. Not only the delay but also some issues with my graphics card. Considering the future of Mandriva may be questionable I decided to look elsewhere.

I landed on OpenSuse 11.3 and it has been great for me. I installed it 27 days and four hours ago. The only issue I have had has been minor, knetworkmanager, which has only required a restart of the networking service. My only complaint about the distro itself is the large wait it takes to refresh the repositories and the pause between downloading of packages. I don't do a whole lot of software installs/uninstalls so that isn't too big of an issue.

I'm thinking because it

mikesd's picture

I'm thinking because it installs the package after it downloads instead of downloading and then installing all (which has been a request for a while now for zypper) is why there's a pause between downloads.

That which does not kill me only postpones the inevitable.

In /etc/zypp/zypp.conf you

Anonymous's picture

In /etc/zypp/zypp.conf you can actually change it to download then install. I wish it was the default.

Spotlight on Linux: openSUSE 11.3

Anonymous's picture

Lets see a spotlight on Sabayon or Pardus. I dumped OpenSuSE because so many packages are well behind in security updates all the time! Firefox is one of them. I was as-much-as 3 revs behind Mozilla and so decided I needed to look elsewhere.

I found several that just were not up to par on any level. I then found Pardus first and then Sabayon second.

Sabayon is a puzzle of pieces put together into to a rock solid Distro! It runs fabulously on my EVGA 730a Mother-Board with GeForce 8200 nVidia Graphis Card and nVidia Mother-Board chips. The 64-Bit flavor uses my Quad-Core A.M.D. 2.3 GHz Processor really well too. It sees all 8GB of the installed R.A.M.

The experience is one that resembles being on Windows with the KDE Desktop. Sure... things are named different and in different places but!, you'd have a learning curve too going from Windows to a Mac.

Sabayon is the most like Windows install I have ever seen in the Linux world. I am even running the installed 64-Bit Firefox and then I installed the 32-Bit Firefox too. All my Flash and other Web-Media runs great in the 32-Bit Firefox! The 64-Bit is used for secure On-Line activity.

Pardus is the most easy to install Linux that ever hit the planet! Wi-Fi even works on the LiveCD!! - And my Wi-Fi is hidden! - And the Wi-Fi adapter in my 2 year old Toshiba A215 Laptop is U.S.B. which!, gave OpenSuSE fits!!!!! The hell with NDISWrapper and that type, type, type on a command line!

So don't tell me about OpenSuSE when there is so much better and more polished Distro's to be had.

Up to date packages

Bobby's picture

The first thing that one should do after installing openSuse is to start YaST, go to Software - Spftware Repositories - add - Community Repositories and add the repositories from which you need software updates or special packages. In that way you will alway have the most up-to-date software on your system.

Linux is about choice and that choice results in people having their special distros that fits their special needs. I haven't tried the distros that you described but from all that I have tried openSuse is one of the very best and that's why I keep coming back to it. It's beautiful, well polished, rock solid and easy to install and use.
OpenSuse is suitable for both newbies and hardcore Linux users. A distro that i can recommend to all, even Ex-Windosers.

@ the author: nice review :)

Re: Up to date packages

Anonymous's picture

At the suggestion of a forum reply I did exactly as you comment and installed the Community Repositories. Still no soap. So that and the profuse frustration with the U.S.B. Wi-Fi that OpenSuSE couldn't light up forced me to look elsewhere.

Pardus and Sabayon just plain work! Both the Live-Media and the installed to system. Because I downloaded the 64-Bit version of Sabayon, I only had to fetch from Mozilla, the 32-Bit Firefox to see Flash Video since the SWF is not compatible with the the current Flash standard. I run the 32-Bit Firefox as a standalone (No install required!) and removed the 64-Bit Firefox. All easy and none of it required a command line. I created a menu item to the 32-Bit Firefox Script and I was done with it.

Pardus is only 32-bit until the next release, so no issues there. However, In what is now definitively a 64-Bit hardware world, I protest Adobe's lack of Flash support and the continued production of 32-Bit Operating Systems.

Sabayon and Pardus were both

Webmistress's picture

Sabayon and Pardus were both featured recently:

Evidently you do not visit enough.

Katherine Druckman is webmistress at You might find her on Twitter or at the Southwest Drupal Summit

Evidently you do not visit enough.

Anonymous's picture

You are right! - And thank you for the review links.

good 'ol suse.

Coded-Dude's picture

My first real *nix experience was solaris for the pc. Then I started playing with linux flavors such as mandrake, redhat, and debian. After years of trying out every major distro, and many minor ones(anyone try LFS), I still have preference to SuSE. I was a little let down when Novell actually took over SuSE, but I am relieved that they have continued to evolve and stabilize one of the older linux distributions out there. The Microsoft agreement also let me down a bit, but for some reason I keep coming back to try out their latest installment. YaST is an absolute powerhouse for those that want to try linux but have no idea what to do with a command prompt. I never really understood why other competitors were slow to attempt an implementation of an all encompassing "control panel." Many had gui interfaces, but each section was its own app, meaning if you wanted to point and click your way through system settings, you had to remember which command launched: network settings, video setting, package management etc. Anywho, I just installed 11.3 on a vmware instance, so its time to dig in and see whats new.... This was a well written and researched article. Thanks for taking me down memory lane!

Regret the upgrade...

Anonymous's picture

I sincerely regret upgrading from 11.2 and plan to go back to that version as soon as I have spare time to do so. Things run so much more poorly in 11.3. Sure, sure, it has lots of "neat stuff" -- but my music no longer plays without stuttering, my Samba shares no longer mount correctly (I found a work-around but it is less secure because I have less control over when the share is mounted and unmounted), Matrox video drivers fail to compile without editing a .h file and, once compiled, don't work... Good grief (or just plain grief, nothing good about it), the list goes on.

Opposite experiencRegret the upgrade...

jedi98's picture

I have the opposite experience, after a fashion. My upgrade to 11.3 from 11.2 on my Dell 6400 laptop was a disaster, nothing worked. There was no choice, reformat "/" and do a new install. This time 11.3 was perfect! Everything worked. Conclusion: after 4 years of playing around with betas, upgrades from 10.2 > 10.3 > 11.1 > 11.2 my config was shot. I'm glad I wiped the root and re-installed because the system runs like a rocket now with ext4! I also swapped the HD and it got even faster.

I'm using OpenSUSE 11.3 on my

Micah's picture

I'm using OpenSUSE 11.3 on my desktop and my netbook (where it's quite fast). I like it, but I don't know if I'd go as far in my praise as you have. As a new OpenSUSE user, the fact that AppArmor flat out didn't work "out of the box" with 11.3 and was only patched a couple of days ago makes me worry a bit about future updates! The repositories have most of what I need but lack some big titles like gPodder, though what is included seems to always be up to date. That said, folks who haven't used it before should definitely check it out, I feel! Thanks for bringing attention to a distro that doesn't really get a lot of it for some reason.

patching is good

cjcox's picture

I know that is seems frustrating when patches come out quickly for something that is "new", but in all fairness, I find that openSUSE patches SLOWER than many other distros... or you could say, I find that other distros are patched more often, which may seem like a bad thing, but I assure you that in general it is a VERY good thing.