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Choosing a distribution⚓︎

openSUSE distributions⚓︎

If you are a desktop user, openSUSE offers the choice between two Linux distributions designed to meet your needs:

Tumbleweed⚓︎

Tumbleweed is a rolling-release distribution: instead of having fixed points where you will be offered to perform a system upgrade (think of Windows, Ubuntu, or macOS), you will be frequently offered to upgrade multiple components of your system.

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Those components are called packages, because they "pack" the programs and resources making up most of your system, along with tools to install them). "Upgrading" means "Upgrading packages" (such as those that constitute your Linux distribution).

Even though Tumbleweed follows a rolling-release model, it is very stable: openSUSE thoroughly tests every package before release, ensuring the stability of your system. Moreover you can always revert back to the previous state of Tumbleweed (in jargon: "switch to the previous snapshot". Snapshots are explained here).

However, keep in mind that Tumbleweed requires a reliable internet connection and a healthy hard drive to work as designed. It also requires that you sometimes take interest in the updating process.

Leap⚓︎

Leap is a more traditional distribution: it uses a fixed-points release model, just like Windows, Ubuntu, or macOS. Leap is a very battle-hardened operating system, mostly made up of packages brought over from SUSE Linux Enterprise, a commercial Linux operating system, and of packages from Tumbleweed after they were tested, tried and used by the community.

It is worth noting that Leap provides a Linux kernel that is several years behind the version offered by Tumbleweed.

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The kernel is the heart of any Linux operating system. It translates your keystrokes and mouse clicks into the ones and zeros the computer understands, and is updated regularly so that the computer can respond to new hardware added to the system.

This means that you might be better served by Tumbleweed if you have a recent computer or rely extensively on "exotic" hardware.

Our recommendation⚓︎

Tumbleweed is a great choice for use as a daily driver and workstation. Unlike Leap it supports both 64- and 32-bit hardware and packs a fresh Linux kernel good at supporting recent machines -- notably laptops -- and peripherals.

Nevertheless, Leap is to be preferred if you:

  • have a very limited bandwidth or an unreliable access to the Internet;
  • have an old (7+ years old) mechanical hard drive that will struggle with frequent, numerous updates;
  • cannot afford to reboot your computer frequently to install updates;
  • don't want to use, or switch between, different snapshots;
  • rely on specific versions of important packages, including hardware drivers;
  • would rather not do package management manually and, more generally, would rather avoid using the command line.

If you are interested in Tumbleweed and want to know more about what typical use-cases and workflows look like, head over to this page.

Desktop Environments⚓︎

Leap offers the GNOME and KDE Plasma desktop environments by default. Tumbleweed offers GNOME, KDE Plasma, and XFCE. These options are chosen during the System Role section of the installation. Additional options are available in the Software selection of the installer. These desktop environment patterns may also be viewed and modified with the YaST Software Management module.

Modern desktop environments have evolved into highly consistent and productive computing experiences. Choosing the right desktop environment for you can be a deeply personal experience; many people feel as passionately about their desktop environment as they do their distribution.

One of the distinguishing features of openSUSE, during the installation, is the ability to choose a desktop environment. This provides a certain level of assurance that you will have a well-supported desktop experience for that desktop environment, no derivatives or spin-offs needed.

Installation⚓︎

During openSUSE Installation, there is a section titled System Role, which applies patterns to the software selected for the respective installation. This is the primary means to select a desktop environment. There is an additional option titled Generic Desktop. If you wish to install a desktop environment available in the installer, but not in the System Role, you can select Generic Desktop and customize the Software selection later within the installer.

The descriptions below are as provided by the respective projects.

GNOME⚓︎

GNOME 3 has been designed from the ground up to help you have the best possible computing experience.

GNOME 3 provides a focused working environment that helps you to get things done, and it is packed with features that will make you more productive. A powerful search feature lets you access all your work from one place. Side-by-side windows makes it easy to view several documents at the same time, and we even provide a way to turn off notifications when you really need to concentrate on the task in hand.

GNOME.org

Install Gnome

Installer > System Role: Select Desktop with GNOME

KDE Plasma⚓︎

Plasma is made to stay out of the way as it helps you get things done. But under its light and intuitive surface, it's a powerhouse. So you're free to choose ways of usage right as you need them and when you need them.

With Plasma the user is king. Not happy with the color scheme? Change it! Want to have your panel on the left edge of the screen? Move it! Don't like the font? Use a different one! Download custom widgets in one click and add them to your desktop or panel.

KDE.org

Install KDE Plasma

Installer > System Role: Select Desktop with KDE Plasma

XFCE⚓︎

XFCE is a lightweight desktop environment for UNIX-like operating systems. It aims to be fast and low on system resources, while still being visually appealing and user friendly.

XFCE embodies the traditional UNIX philosophy of modularity and re-usability. It consists of a number of components that provide the full functionality one can expect of a modern desktop environment. They are packaged separately and you can pick among the available packages to create the optimal personal working environment.

Another priority of XFCE is adherence to standards, specifically those defined at freedesktop.org.

XFCE.org

Install XFCE

Tumbleweed:

  • Installer > System Role: Select Desktop with Xfce

Leap:

  • Installer > System Role: Select Generic Desktop
  • Installer > Installer Settings: Select Software
  • Installer > Software Selection and System Tasks:
    • De-Select A very basic desktop
    • Select XFCE Desktop Environment

Note

Clicking the Details... button on Installer > Software Selection and System Tasks displays packages associated with the respective patterns.

Generic Desktop⚓︎

Another option for a System Role is the Generic Desktop environment. This option enables IceWM, but also allows selection of one of the optional desktop environments later, during the Software selection of the installation. If you intend to choose one of the other desktop environments, choose Yes, when asked "Activate online repositories now?" and ensure Main Repository (OSS) is enabled on the Online Repositories step.

IceWM⚓︎

IceWM is a window manager for the X Window System. The goal of IceWM is speed, simplicity, and not getting in the user’s way. It comes with a taskbar with pager, global and per-window keybindings and a dynamic menu system. Application windows can be managed by the keyboard and mouse. Windows can be iconified to the taskbar, to the tray, to the desktop or be hidden. They are controllable by a quick switch window (Alt+Tab) and in a window list.

Ice-WM.org

Install IceWM

Installer > System Role: Select Generic Desktop

Additional Choices⚓︎

Before confirming the installation, an overview is provided with the selected installation options, titled Installer Settings. At this point, you can modify the Software selected to be installed. In addition to reducing or adding packages, you can also select other desktop environments to install.

If you prefer one of these desktop environments, de-select the A very basic desktop pattern, then select one of the below patterns:

Enlightenment⚓︎

Enlightenment is classified as a "desktop shell" as it provides everything you need to operate your desktop or laptop, but it is not a full application suite. This covers functionality including launching applications, managing their windows and performing system tasks like suspending, rebooting, managing files and so on.

Enlightenment.org

Install Enlightment
  • Installer > System Role: Select Generic Desktop
  • Installer > Installer Settings: Select Software
  • Installer > Software Selection and System Tasks:
    • De-Select A very basic desktop
    • Select Enlightenment

Note

Clicking the Details... button on Installer > Software Selection and System Tasks displays packages associated with the respective patterns.

LXDE⚓︎

LXDE, which stands for Lightweight X11 Desktop Environment, is a desktop environment which is lightweight and fast. It is designed to be user friendly and slim, while keeping the resource usage low. LXDE uses less RAM and less CPU while being a feature rich desktop environment. Unlike other tightly integrated desktops LXDE strives to be modular, so each component can be used independently with few dependencies. This makes porting LXDE to different distributions and platforms easier.

LXDE.org

Install LXDE
  • Installer > System Role: Select Generic Desktop
  • Installer > Installer Settings: Select Software
  • Installer > Software Selection and System Tasks:
    • De-Select A very basic desktop
    • Select LXDE Desktop Environment

Note

Clicking the Details... button on Installer > Software Selection and System Tasks displays packages associated with the respective patterns.

LXQt⚓︎

LXQt is a Lightweight Qt Desktop Environment. It will not get in your way. It will not hang or slow down your system. It is focused on being a classic desktop with a modern look and feel. Historically, LXQt is the product of the merge between LXDE-Qt, an initial Qt flavour of LXDE, and Razor-qt, a project aiming to develop a Qt based desktop environment with similar objectives as the current LXQt.

LXQt-Project.org

Install LXQt
  • Installer > System Role: Select Generic Desktop
  • Installer > Installer Settings: Select Software
  • Installer > Software Selection and System Tasks:
    • De-Select A very basic desktop
    • Select LXQt Desktop Environment

Note

Clicking the Details... button on Installer > Software Selection and System Tasks displays packages associated with the respective patterns.

MATE⚓︎

The MATE Desktop Environment is the continuation of GNOME 2. It provides an intuitive and attractive desktop environment using traditional metaphors for Linux and other Unix-like operating systems.

MATE is under active development to add support for new technologies while preserving a traditional desktop experience.

Mate-Desktop.org

Install MATE
  • Installer > System Role: Select Generic Desktop
  • Installer > Installer Settings: Select Software
  • Installer > Software Selection and System Tasks:
    • De-Select A very basic desktop
    • Select MATE Desktop Environment

Note

Clicking the Details... button on Installer > Software Selection and System Tasks displays packages associated with the respective patterns.

Sway⚓︎

Sway allows you to arrange your application windows logically, rather than spatially. Windows are arranged into a grid by default which maximizes the efficiency of your screen and can be quickly manipulated using only the keyboard.

SwayWM.org

Install Sway
  • Installer > System Role: Select Generic Desktop
  • Installer > Installer Settings: Select Software
  • Installer > Software Selection and System Tasks:
    • De-Select A very basic desktop
    • Select The openSUSEway desktop environment pattern

Note

Clicking the Details... button on Installer > Software Selection and System Tasks displays packages associated with the respective patterns.

Advanced Options⚓︎

Cinnamon⚓︎

Cinnamon is a Linux desktop which provides advanced innovative features and a traditional user experience.

The desktop layout is similar to Gnome 2 with underlying technology forked from Gnome Shell. Cinnamon makes users feel at home with an easy to use and comfortable desktop experience.

LinuxMint.com

Install Cinnamon

Tumbleweed:

  • Installer > System Role: Select Generic Desktop
  • Installer > Installer Settings: Select Software
  • Installer > Software Selection and System Tasks:
    • De-Select A very basic desktop
    • Ensure Selection of X Windows System
    • Click Details...
    • Click Search tab
      • Search for and Select cinnamon
    • Click Accept and Continue

Note

In this setup configuration, you shouldn't have any Desktop Environment patterns selected, unless you desire multiple desktop environments.

Clicking the Details... button on Installer > Software Selection and System Tasks displays packages associated with the respective patterns.


Last update: 2022-05-25