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openSUSE releases “stable” images each 8 months called Leap. There’s also a rolling release branch coming from openSUSE called “Tumbleweed”. It has the latest and freshest packages coming from everywhere. However, those packages are less stable than the Leap branch, because they are very bleeding-edge.
Currently, the latest stable version of the Leap branch is 15.2, which was released few weeks ago. We’ve made a complete review for the new openSUSE 15.2 release, which you can check before reading this post.
We’ve also highlighted some features which make openSUSE a remarkable Linux distribution. You can check them from our post: Reasons to give openSUSE a try.
Today, we’ll go in a walk-through of things to do after installing the newly-released openSUSE Leap 15.2 distribution.
Run a System Update
Just like any other distribution which we talked about, you must run an update after installing your new OS, as lot of updates and bug fixes may exist. Running the update on openSUSE is done using the
zypper package manager:
sudo zypper update
Check your Snapper/Btrfs Snapshots Settings
One of the most remarkable features of openSUSE is how well-integrated it is with the Btrfs filesystem, which is a copy-on-write filesystem that allows you to keep different snapshots of any modified files you on your system, as you desire.
openSUSE has a special tool that utilizes Btrfs, called Snapper. It is part of the YaST2 management tool. Snapper depends on the creation of different configuration files located in
/etc/snapper/configs/ for each Btrfs subvolume you want to keep taking snapshots of.
After installing openSUSE 15.2, you should check whether Snapper is enabled or not (To take automatic snapshots). A simple way to do that would be to open the Snapper tool from YaST2:
If you succeeded in opening the tool, it means there’s already a Snapper configuration running for you. If you failed and a “Non-existing configuration file” message appeared, then this means that the snapshots feature is disabled for your system. To enable it, you should run:
sudo snapper -c root create-config /
By default, if you install the
/home directory on the same
/ partition (Not on a separate partition, I mean), then the home folder is NOT included in the snapshots your system we’ll be taking. To include it, you have to create another separate Snapper configuration file for it:
sudo snapper -c home create-config /home
You should also enable Snapshots for YaST2 administrative tasks, so that you can restore your settings later if changed. Edit
/etc/sysconfig/yast2 file and make sure
USE_SNAPPER is set to
Now, we have to modify our two configuration files according to our needs. You can simply edit the two text configuration files (With root privileges) in any text editor you like. The structure of both files is the same, the only difference is what changes we would like to do for them.
If you run
sudo nano /etc/snapper/configs/root for example to edit the snapshots settings of the
/ partition, then here are some possible settings you can change:
BACKGROUND_COMPARISON="yes"when creating a new snapshot of the specified directory (whether
/home), Snapper can run the comparison process in the background to distinguish the old files from new, so that when you open the Snapper window in the future, it doesn’t take anytime in displaying the changes between the old snapshot and the new one for you. While this is a good feature in theory, it could cause a load on I/O operations over time and make your system slow if it doesn’t have enough resources, so it would be wise to change it to
- Snapper gives you two algorithms for getting rid of old snapshots: By limiting the number of snapshots stored on your system, and by a timeline (E.g keep all snapshots in the last 24 hours). And you can change the settings of both algorithms according to your needs, how frequent you run updates/do changes on your system and how much space you have on disk.
NUMBER_CLEANUP="yes"lets you clean the snapshots by limiting the number of snapshots to keep each day. Use it with
NUMBER_LIMIT_IMPORTANT="10"to tell Snapper what number of snapshots you want to keep on your system. The first one is for general snapshots and the second one is for important snapshots (Like package management). Also make
0if you want to just keep a number of snapshots, regardless of their age (By default, backups younger than 30 minutes are never removed). Read further about these values from the official Snapper documentation.
TIMELINE_CLEANUP="yes"are for creating hourly snapshots and cleaning them. Snapper will create hourly snapshots of both your
/homesubvolumes, and automatically delete older snapshots than the values specified in
TIMELINE_LIMIT_HOURLYand others. So for example, you could tell your system to keep all snapshots in the last 24 hours, start deleting them after that and keep 7 snapshots in a week or 30 in a month… Whatever you prefer. Read more on that from the official docs.
- When you run
zypperor YaST2 updates, the system also creates snapshots before and after the operations you run, so that you can always rollback to the previous snapshots if you don’t like what happened to your system. You can specify the age of these snapshots with
EMPTY_PRE_POST_MIN_AGE="1800"(The value is in seconds).
Here’s an example of how to use Snapper. I simply open the tool, and then using the /home configuration, I can create a new snapshot of my home folder immediately:
After that, I can modify a text file in my home folder, and then create a new snapshot, and Snapper will show me the modified files between the two snapshots, and offer me an option to rollback if I want:
Keep in mind that Snapper is an advanced tool that requires caution when being used. You should always restore only the files you want instead of restoring your entire root or home partitions. Read more about Snapper from its official documentation page.
Enable Packman Repository
You can say that Packman on openSUSE is like RPM Fusion on Fedora. Due to openSUSE policy and other patents-related issues on shipping packages, some of them may not be available from the official repositories. Packman is a repository which provides those packages for all the supported openSUSE versions.
To enable it on openSUSE Leap 15.2:
zypper ar -cfp 90 http://ftp.gwdg.de/pub/linux/misc/packman/suse/openSUSE_Leap_15.2/ packman
Make sure you have enabled the repository on your system before continuing reading. As a lot of the stuff we’ll mention are depending on the Packman repository.
Install Multimedia Codecs
Due to patents and other legal issues, a lot of multimedia codecs are not supported by default on openSUSE. That’s why your Firefox browser for example will have issues in playing videos on Twitter/Facebook/Other sites after installation.
However, after you have enabled Packman repository, you can now install those codecs easily. Just run the following command:
sudo zypper in opi && opi codecs
If it asks about whether to use the Packman repository, tell it yes. If it asks you about whether to trust the key of the Packman repository, answer with “a” (Always). A change of vendor may also be necessary (Tell it yes).
And that’s it.
Install NVIDIA & AMD Drivers
By default, openSUSE only ships with the free drivers for NVIDIA and AMD graphics cards. However, if you want more performance, you may install the proprietary drivers for those cards.
To install NVIDIA driver on openSUSE Leap 15, run:
sudo zypper addrepo --refresh 'https://download.nvidia.com/opensuse/leap/$releasever' NVIDIA sudo zypper install-new-recommends
For AMD drivers, they are already there in the system if you are searching for the open source ones. For the proprietary ones, you’ll need to download the official driver from the AMD website. Search for something like AMDGPU-Pro Driver Version 17.40 for SLED/SLES 12 SP2 (or any newer version that is for SLED/SLES) and download it. After you download the driver and extract it, run the checking process using:
sudo sh amdgpu-pro-preinstall.sh --check
It will show you if there are any repositories or packages that are missing. To run the script which automatically solves those problems and adds needed repositories:
sudo sh amdgpu-pro-preinstall.sh
Finally, you can now install the driver:
sudo ./amdgpu-pro-install -n
Try Vanilla Kernel
This step is optional. If you have some weird problems with the kernel shipped by default in openSUSE due to its patches or the backported drivers from newer kernel, or if you just want a vanilla kernel, you may install it easily on openSUSE using the following command:
sudo zypper in kernel-vanilla
When rebooting, make sure that you enter to the vanilla kernel instead of the default one.
Explore YaST Modules
YaST is the spirit of openSUSE. It comes by default with a few modules installed to configure bootloader, network, software and a lot more. However, YaST is not just those modules. There are around 80 different modules for YaST which you can install in a single click. Feel free to browse them to see if you need any.
To list the name of their packages on your system, run:
sudo zypper search yast2-
Install TLP For Battery Optimization
Some users – on some specific hardware – may notice a higher battery consumption rate on Linux than on Windows. This is explained in details with the solutions as well in our article: “7 Tips to Reduce Battery Usage on Linux“.
The easiest thing you can do to solve this problem on openSUSE, is simply installing TLP. Which is a nice power management system working in the background to save battery power when possible:
sudo zypper install tlp tlp-rdw sudo systemctl enable tlp
Then reboot your system.
Get Awesome Firefox Addons
Firefox is the default web browser in openSUSE. You may check those addons if you want to customize it:
- GNOME Theme: A nice theme for Firefox on theme. Giving it GNOME-like style.
- uBlock Origin: The famous ad-blocker plugin. Please make sure to add us to the whitelist!
- Self Destructing Cookies: For a better privacy and anonymity on the Internet. It’s better to destroy the cookies directly after you close the tab it’s associated with. This is exactly what this extension does. Although it will directly end your sessions (you will have to login again each time), but it will give you a good privacy shield. Turn on automatic cleanup after you install it.
- Privacy Badger: Block tracking scripts and other 3rd-party online tracking software.
Additionally, you may read this:
Customize GNOME Shell
This applies if you installed GNOME Shell on openSUSE 15.2. The default look and feel for the shell is not that good, and it’s missing a lot of functionality. However, you can check our article below for awesome ways to customize your shell: 23 Useful GNOME Extensions.
Try Other Web Browsers
If you don’t like Firefox, you may try a set of other web browsers which are available in openSUSE & Packman repositories. For example, you can try Chromium, which is the open source browser developed by Google:
sudo zypper in chromium
Vivaldi is also available:
sudo zypper in vivaldi
You may also give Nightly a shot. Nightly is the under-development version of Firefox. All new features are added to Nightly first before it goes gradually to the beta and stable channels.
Install a Set of Essential Apps
openSUSE repositories are full of apps. You can search for the software you want from YaST2 or software.opensuse.org. In both cases, here are some applications which we recommend.
VLC is one of the best multimedia players out there. It’s free and open source. You can install it via:
sudo zypper in vlc
If you are a gamer, then you may probably want to install Steam:
sudo zypper in steam
Fedora Media writer is a great graphical app to burn ISO images on USB sticks and SD cards. You can install it on openSUSE using the instructions in our tutorial.
Create a Backup Plan
Having a backup is extremely important. You don’t want to lose all your files and data just because something broke on your system. That’s why it’s important to invest a little time in setting it up.
Dropbox is probably the most famous solution on Linux desktops. You can install it using:
sudo zypper in dropbox
You can also install its Nautilus (GNOME file manager) extension using:
sudo zypper in nautilus-extension-dropbox
Here ends our list. You are now ready to go and start using your new OS in the way you like. If you are searching for desktop customizations, then you may find those in GNOME Look or KDE Store. There are tons of themes and icons which you can download from there.
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