back to article openSUSE Leap 15.4: The best desktop on the RPM side of the Linux world

The Reg FOSS desk took the latest update to openSUSE's stable distro for a spin around the block and returned pleasantly impressed. As we reported earlier this week, SUSE said it was preparing version 15 SP4 of its SUSE Linux Enterprise distribution at the company's annual conference, and a day later, openSUSE Leap version 15. …

  1. NoneSuch Silver badge

    "Disclaimer: the author worked for SUSE until last year, although not on the openSUSE project. He retains no connection or links with the company. (And some years before that, he also worked for Red Hat.)"

    So the author got tired of the private jets, dating models & champagne lunches of the Linux world and decided to move into journalism. ;-)

    1. David 132 Silver badge

      Ah, yes, journalism. One of the very few career paths that is even more lucrative and sybaritic than being a Linux contributor!

      1. Tom 7 Silver badge

        There were reports today that the Death Clown could earn £5m a year when he stops breaking the country. He had a job as a journalist before so something to consider if you are a really appalling journalist with a serious aversion to knowing anything about what your meant to be doing.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          I seriously doubt

          that “alleged war criminal death clown” Blair would get out of bed for a shit for a poxy 5 million

          edit; my mistake After reading your comment again I see you are referring to the current idiot in chief. Soz.

          Cheers… Ishy

    2. Liam Proven (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      [Author here]

      To quote the great Tom Lehrer:

      "I always like to make explicit the fact that before I went off not too long ago to fight in the trenches, I was a mathematician by profession. I don't like people to get the idea that I have to do this for a living. I mean, it isn't as though I *had* to do this, you know, I could be making, oh, 3000 dollars a year just teaching."

      1. Kubla Cant

        I wholly endorse your admiration for Tom Lehrer.

        But it's worth pointing out that the quotation dates from 1953. According to the US Census Bureau "The median income of men with money incomes in 1953 was estimated at $3,200", so $3,000, while modest, is not as derisory as it now seems.

  2. VoiceOfTruth Silver badge

    btrfs - ready for prime time. Not.

    -> [When using btrfs] But make the root partition big: as in, give it hundreds of gigabytes, rather than tens.

    Why is this? What is so WRONG about btrfs that this is the advice? To me, it is yet another indication that btrfs is not ready for prime time.

    To anyone using btrfs and wants to chime in with "it works flawlessly (for them)", it is not yet/still a reliable file system. This much is admitted on the links in this article. As such it should not be the default file system on anything. So I have to give Suse a down vote not just for using it, but for making it available at all in what is supposed to be a reliable system.

    From the page:

    -> WARNING: Using '--repair' can further damage a filesystem instead of helping if it can't fix your particular issue.


    Scene: The BTRFS tyre shop

    Customer: Hello, I have a puncture.

    BTRFS guy: No problem. We can repair that. Here's 4 more punctures, and we've removed some of the tread at the same time.

    1. oiseau

      Re: btrfs - ready for prime time. Not.

      As such it should not be the default file system on anything.

      Quite so. +1

      I use Devuan Linux on my box/portables so I don't care for otther distributions but like to read about what esle is happening.

      I found these two bits to be particularly interesting, to put it mildly:

      "... the "perpetually unfinished" Btrfs readily gets corrupted in the event of a power failure ...

      ... because repairing a corrupted volume is difficult and dangerous."

      Even though I am quite fond of reptiles, I wouldn't come within a mile of this SUSE thing.


      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: btrfs - ready for prime time. Not. ..... [NOT should be in caps with flashing Background] !!!

        If you want to take advantage of ZFS then use ZFS ....... !!!

        All other ZFS-alikes are a big risk with your data, in one way or another.

        I appreciate the attempt to gain the advantages of ZFS but it 'still' appears to be a little too 'almost but not quite there' to run with !!!

        I also appreciate the 'quasi-religious' objections to ZFS and its license but my data is not so religiously constrained.


      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: btrfs - ready for prime time. Not.

        OpenSUSE itself is quite good for other reasons, just don't use the (unfortunately) default Btrfs unless you're adventurous.

        As noted in article, you can use XFS or EXT4 natively well enough; and I'd expect you can bolt ZFS on too if you want.

        No need to throw out a perfectly good Linux distribution because of filesystem choices, especially a good alternate to the Red Hat hegemony, if you prefer the rpm family of package management.

        As with other open source things, use the parts you like, pass on the rest.

    2. Liam Proven (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      Re: btrfs - ready for prime time. Not.

      [Author here]

      That is why I always bring up this subject, and that is why yet again I link to both to an external site, and to SUSE's own instructions.

      Btrfs is a rich, clever filesystem, that can do impressive things.

      But it has two weaknesses that IMHO are fatal flaws:

      [1] It does not give a straight answer to the classic `df` command. It will not say how much space is free. If it runs out of free space due to snapshots, it will not automatically delete them and continue operating -- its designers see that as the OS' responsibility. SUSE does not handle this case and will continue allocating space.

      [2] If the filesystem fills up, or power fails at a bad time, or there is a media fault, or some other error, Btrfs filesystems can corrupt in reasonably common failure scenarios. If they do, it is almost impossible to repair them.

      To have no working free-space estimate is a serious flaw. To have no working repair command is a serious flaw. Given that flaw #1 can lead to corruption and flaw #2 can't fix it, for me, that is a deal breaker.

      That is why I write about it.

      Things SUSE could do:

      * Make the package manager aware of space usage by snapshots.

      * Make it able to estimate space usage by the snapshot resulting from installation of new package(s) and account for that before proceeding.

      * If there is inadequate space, then automatically resolve this.

      The easy way: do not proceed if the action is likely to fill the volume.

      The smart way: if the space is used by snapshots and there are later known-working snapshots, then automatically prune older snapshots to ensure the disk does not fill up and the requested action can complete.

      In other words, make RPM and/or Zypper aware of snasphot space usage and handle it intelligently.

      Other possible actions:

      * Don't rely on Btrfs and don't inherit Btrfs flaws. If Btrfs snapshots hinder free-space estimation, make the packaging tools aware of snapshots and handle them. Integrate Snapper management into Zypper.

      If Btrfs can't be given better free-space estimation and it can't be given a reliably working repair tool, support other filesystems.

      Handle ZFS and make sure the users know of the legalities. SUSE will not support ZFS and that is the company's choice, but testing on a ZFS basis could result in non-filesystem-dependent improvements to snapshot handling and package-manager support of snapshot space estimation.

      Get involved with Stratis. Help make it work.

      Get involved with bcachefs. Help make it work.

      Or any 2 of those. Or all 3.

      All of these will be expensive, but some solutions are needed. First, though, SUSE has to realise this is a problem. Currently it does not.

      That is why I wrote about it. (Again.)

      1. Androgynous Cupboard Silver badge

        Re: btrfs - ready for prime time. Not.

        > It does not give a straight answer to the classic `df` command. It will not say how much space is free. If it runs out of free space due to snapshots, it will not automatically delete them and continue operating

        Precisely the issue I hit and why I haven't gone back since. I'm actually feeling equal parts justified and horrified it's still the case.

    3. RudeBuoy

      Re: btrfs - ready for prime time. Not.

      You either have to follow the size recommendation or disable snapper. My experience is that with the default install snapper eventually fills up the root partition.

      After the root partition fills up the system locks up without giving you a warning. On reboot the system will not boot and there is no message to let you know what the problem is. There is no message or log entry to let you know that the reason it will not complete the boot process is that the root partition is full.

      We had this problem repeatedly over the years. I have been using Opensuse since 2001 as my personal desktop. I have also been used it in my business since 2005.

    4. mmonroe

      Re: btrfs - ready for prime time. Not.

      When I installed openSusue, I firstly installed btrfs, but mounting the suse disk when I booted into Fedora, was difficult and it buggered up my Fedora install. I fixed Fedora and reinstalled Suse selecting the ext4 option - no more problems for me.

      Now if only I could get rid of systemd on both, I would have for me the perfect distros - rpm based and svr4.

    5. l8gravely

      Re: btrfs - ready for prime time. Not.

      I will agree to a love hate relationship with btrfs after going through the upgrade process on a pair of SUSE 12-SP3 systems that needed to move to 15-SP3, where one system worked flawlessly, and the other got into such a corrupted state that btrfs just shat itself and I had to wipe and roll back to an old VMware snapshot and do the upgrade from that point.

      btrfs just is NOT ready for use in a production environment, because it can hose itself so badly that you can't recover at all. For a home system where I didn't care about things, maybe. But for an application server which needs to be rock solid, no thanks.

      It's not that I mind it getting confused and maybe losing some files, it's that when it DOES get hosed partially, it can't even pretend to fix itself or at least just destroy the broken file(s) and put them into a lost+found directory so you have a possible hope of at least recoving the files.

      The system would boot, then go into read only mode so you couldn't login remotely, and even in the remote console, the btrfs filesystem was .... wonky. Super strange. Luckily I could roll back this VM to an old snapshot and all was ok.

      But damn... it was painful. But! I do like SUSE, it's got alot of nice features. I just don't trust btrfs anymore.

  3. Chewi
    Thumb Up

    It's a breeze

    My wife and daughter are both long time OpenSUSE Leap users. Me? I'm a Gentoo developer, but when it comes to your nearest and dearest, you want something that just works. There's the odd issue now and then, usually due to newer hardware, but for the most part, it's a breeze. It was the first distro I tried things like EFI and Secure Boot on. I love how they continue to maintain a rich feature set while keeping it polished. Long may it continue.

    1. druck Silver badge

      Re: It's a breeze

      It's also the only distro which was a breeze to convert from 32 bit to 64 bit, one simple set of instructions and it worked first time.

    2. big_D Silver badge

      Re: It's a breeze

      We used to use Gentoo for our web servers on VMware, great fun.

      Allocate 96 cores and 128GB RAM, let it compile, then drop it to 2 or 4 cores and 16GB for actual use.

      I use Tumbleweed on my Ryzen box, it is surprisingly stable, considering it gets overnight builds (usually a couple of hundred updates every week). I had 1 instance, where a Kernel update and nVidia driver update went pear-shaped, booted to last known good and waited a day, before patching again, after that, everything was fine.

      Leap means it is even more stable, but also boring. I have that on another box.

  4. VoiceOfTruth Silver badge

    OpenSuse is a good distro, with a few bugs

    I last used OpenSuse a few years ago. It was then a good distro, and it is still is now.

    It does have a few bugs. If you do a network install (I chose XFCE) at the start it shows x GB, 1915 packages remaining. Even when you get to 99% and a few MiB remaining it still shows 1915 packages.

    The Welcome screen after rebooting shows the spelling 'Customise' rather than 'Customize'. It's this sort of attention which garners OpenSuse some extra points. The choice of desktop layout is also welcome on the Welcome screen. It's where it should be for a new user, rather than being hidden away in some Settings menu somewhere.

    YaST is indeed good. It does have a few foibles. For example. if I go to Services Manager, a big window opens up with the services and the spelling 'Initialising' (again, extra marks for the correct spelling) on it. The big window is positioned at 0,0 on the top left of the screen. It seems odd. Why not put it in the middle? A small popup also temporarily appears with the words 'YaST2 - services manag'. Why not make the window just a bit wider and show the rest of the word?

    Like the Services Manager, if I open Languages, I get a huge window with various languages. The text for the languages is at most about 2 inches, yet the window is about 16 inches. Why? I get a same super wide window if I open User and Group Management, yet the width of the content is about 3 inches wide.

    It's this sort of small and easily fixed features/bugs/glitches which remove some of the gloss. In pseudo code 'set windowWidth = contentWidth + 10%'. This to me is just as bad as some Windows applications with a panel or window or scrolling text box which is 1 inch high, yet contains pages of text.

    Software Management - the same huge window, though this time there is some content to justify it. I search for mysql. There are lots of things like connectors for mysql, like mytop and mysql-connector-java, but not mysql itself. If you want to push people towards mariadb, go the whole hog and stop providing these half-in half-out results.

    NTP Configuration - same huge window. I am sure all the other windows are the same.

    Under the applications menu, Internet/Mail Reader. This opens Thunderbird. Before I have even configured an email account this has opened 4 outgoing connections. Thanks Mozilla for whatever this is.

    At the end of the day, OpenSuse is another Linux distro. It is a good long-lived distro so it doesn't merit a YALD award from me. It's a good distro for somebody new to Linux, but it would be better if they didn't use btrfs. Ermintrude, new Linux user talking to Zebedee. Oh Zebedee, where have all my files gone? Zebedee? Zebedee has boinged out of here. Like Ermintrude's files.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: OpenSuse is a good distro, with a few bugs

      at the start it shows x GB, 1915 packages remaining. Even when you get to 99% and a few MiB remaining it still shows 1915 packages.

      I envisage a development manager somewhere talking to a minion: "We have to do something about the progress indicator." Minion: "Why? It's not erratic, it counts down exactly to the finish and it's correct all the way up to that." Manager: "That's the problem. It doesn't meet industry standards."

    2. Wyrdness

      Re: OpenSuse is a good distro, with a few bugs

      I tried OpenSUSE a couple of years ago and really wanted to like it. Installation was really straightforward and YaST seemed really good (if somewhat hard to type). But I ended up abandoning because of the bugs. One particularly nasty one is that it wouldn't talk to my printer. After hours of searching, I found that its default firewall rules were blocking printing. I've never seen any other Linux distro that does this. There were also many other minor but annoying bugs. I ended up switching to Mint, which also installs nicely and didn't have all of the minor annoyances of SuSE. It's a pity because SuSE looked like it could be a really great Linux bistro if these issues were sorted.

      1. Kubla Cant

        Re: OpenSuse is a good distro, with a few bugs

        SuSE looked like it could be a really great Linux bistro

        That's a problem when you're looking for a distro.

        It's fun to speculate on what a Linux bistro would be like. A menu offering thousands of dishes, many of them similar. If you don't like your food, you are welcome to set up in a corner of the kitchen and start cooking a variant menu. In the middle of the kitchen, a group of chefs are fighting over the right way to make stock.

        1. Wyrdness

          Re: OpenSuse is a good distro, with a few bugs

          I sometimes really hope that the inventor of autocorrect spends an enternity in Hull. I actually corrected autocorrects 'correction' of distro, only to have it have the final laugh.

  5. bill 27


    I disabled it long, long ago. I got tired of running out of disk space (6GB is disk space just isn't as big as it used to be, fatter bits I guess). I just's still disabled on the computer I just upgraded to 15.4.

    1. herman Silver badge

      Re: SNAPPER

      " fatter bits I guess" - If you rotate your data by 90 degrees, the 1s and 0s become much thinner.

      1. bill 27

        Re: SNAPPER

        I once had a conversation with someone about whether or not a disk would weigh differently depending on how it was oriented. Because the magnetic fields of the bits would align differently to the earths magnetic field.

        FWIW, all 5 of my computer still have SNAPPER disabled. I just did the last upgrade a few minutes ago on this one.

  6. Neil Barnes Silver badge

    give it hundreds of gigabytes, rather than tens.

    Damn, that'll mean taking the back off this laptop and replacing whatever solid state drive is fitted with something twice the size... hundreds of gigs for *the OS* seems, um, larger than one might like.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: give it hundreds of gigabytes, rather than tens.

      If a separate OS partition gets corrupted it can be dealt with by reinstalling. If it takes /home with it the best you can hope for is that there wasn't much work done since the last backup.

      Stick with the most reliable format for both.

      1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

        Re: give it hundreds of gigabytes, rather than tens.

        I'm not arguing about a separate /home partition, I've used that for donkey's years. But the size of the partition required for the OS?

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: give it hundreds of gigabytes, rather than tens.

          Yes, just stick with Ext4. I think I can count the number of times I've had to reinstall the OS because of a drive corruption on the fingers of one foot.

          As far as possible my policy is to use LVM and start off with partitions that are about half full and if I notice they've g0t to about three quarters or more add some from the unused LVM pool to take them back to half.

          II also keep /usr/local, /opt and /srv on separate partitions that can be preserved across updates or reinstalls. I've had an upgrade that wasn't in place barf if /var wasn't reformatted so I prefer to reformat that. As mysql/mariadb defaults to keeping its data in /var as does apache2 (at least in Debian etc) I put them onto /srv where they should have been in the first place and just link them back to where the OS scripts expect to find them.

          If I were to make a change to the standard Linux (and Unix in general layout) I'd have a /local which could contain a /local/etc, /local/usr and /local/var to hold anything to be preserved over reformats. Any settings in /local/etc would override those in /etc.

          Paranoid, moi? Yes, an proud of it.

    2. David 132 Silver badge

      Re: give it hundreds of gigabytes, rather than tens.

      I had to download a Windows graphics driver the other day - unusual, because mostly I just let Windows Update handle it automatically or I use an out-of-box driver.

      Anyway. The driver download was 637MB.

      I'm old enough to remember when a CD would hold an entire OS (OK, OK, I'm also old enough to remember when a couple of floppies would hold an OS, but that's beside the point.)

      Now we're at the stage where a single driver would barely fit on a CD. If anyone still used CDs. OK, maybe I'm showing my age a little too much?

      Ahem. 637MB for a driver? What the hell?

      Put like that, having to devote tens or hundreds of gigabytes for the rest of the OS starts to look positively frugal, right?

      1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

        Re: give it hundreds of gigabytes, rather than tens.

        One is *just* resisting the temptation to point to the discussion about software auditing the other day, about knowing just what other software is in the software that is in the software that is in your software...

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: give it hundreds of gigabytes, rather than tens.

          There's also the question of whether this is a download for a specific product or for half a dozen different products on three or four different versions of Windows - and maybe the Mac, Linux and BSD versions as well.

      2. jotheberlock

        Re: give it hundreds of gigabytes, rather than tens.

        Not that this excuses quite that big a driver (maybe NVidia Experience is on there too?) but bear in mind graphics cards are much much more complicated than they used to be, most of it in userspace. There's going to be a complete optimising compiler on there for the shaders, after all.

  7. boatsman

    it *does* have a live installer

    its here:

    click on "Alternative Downloads"


    1. Liam Proven (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      Re: it *does* have a live installer

      [Author here]

      I know there is a live installer. That is why I said:

      > the project also offers live images with KDE, GNOME, and Xfce

      I also pointed out that the project's own web page *advises against using these for installation*:

      > the download page explicitly says: "They should not be used to install or upgrade. Please use the installation media instead."

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hmm does it come with stuff like infiniband OFED drivers, cluster/high performance filesystems like Ceph/BeeGFS, OpenMPI, the Intel/AMD optimising compiler and vectorised maths libraries?

    Desktops and package managers are cool but for enterprise derived distros I want to hear about the good stuff that make it relevant for HPC and that come out of the box, and don't need massive amounts of patching (well this manufacturer only supplies drivers for kernel version 5.12 and this one only supports kernel 5.10 etc)

  9. drankinatty

    Add best KDE3 on the Planet to the list of Desktops

    You missed perhaps my favorite desktop of all time in your review:

    openSUSE provides what I consider to be the best KDE3 available (TDE, while great, isn't a true KDE3.5 fork any longer, it uses a tqtinterface layer and with massive source K/T renaming involved). The openSUSE KDE3 has many of the nice TDE updates as well, native .xz archive handling in konqueror, etc.. I've probably used every desktop going at one time or the other from blackbox to WMII (including the lesser known desktops like sawfish) The openSUSE folks do a darn good job providing a wide variety of desktops to choose from and most if not all can be installed side-by-side.

    15.4 has been a pleasure to use so far. Mirrors began getting the Gold Master release on 5/28 and as of 6/8 all mirrors should be updated (but there has been a bit of a checksum issue with the .iso's -- that should be resolved shortly if you reach a mirror impacted by that hiccup). If you are curious, 15.4 is well worth a test-drive (and no I don't and haven't every worked for SuSE, but I have contributed for many years)

  10. Anonymous South African Coward

    Downloading it, will have the PFY try it out.

    And, yes, will warn him about BTRFS, and to use that only for the Beancounter servers.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Quote: "...the best on the RPM side of the Linux world..."

    Ah.......that word again......"best".......

    Sorry, but that's a completely unsustainable claim!!!

    "Best" for which type of use?

    "Best" for which type of user?

    "Best" supported?

    "Best" in terms of security?

    "Best" in terms of tools?

    So......maybe "best in the opinion of Liam Proven"......yup....I'd agree with that!!!!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Quote: "...the best ...."

      ""Best" for which type of use?

      "Best" for which type of user?

      "Best" supported?

      "Best" in terms of security?

      "Best" in terms of tools?"

      Never mind your blatant attempt to divert the discussion back to something based on facts as well as prejudices. If people were really thinking like that, Windows would have died out years ago, rather than being on long term lifer support courtesy of the typical IT crowd.

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