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openSUSE 11.4

March 10, 2011

I last looked at openSUSE on Desktop Linux Reviews when it hit version 11.3. This update takes openSUSE up to version 11.4 so I opted to do a quick look instead of a full review on DLR.

openSUSE comes with a number of different desktop environments. For this quick look I went with the KDE version, but a GNOME version is also available on the openSUSE downloads page. You can also roll your own via the SUSE Studio site.

What’s New
Here’s a sample of what’s new in this release:

Kernel 2.6.37
Enhanced boot process
Faster repository
KDE Plasma Desktop 4.6
Firefox 4.0
LibreOffice 3.3.1

The package management changes include being able to download from multiple servers, among other things. This has the potential to provide faster updates, software installs and repository refreshes. I’m glad to see this though I never really had a complaint about the speed of openSUSE’s repository in the past. Hopefully it will please some users though.

It’s tough for me to quantify the boot process in this release since it’s been a while since the last release. It seems reasonably quick to me but your mileage may vary. I’d be curious to know if people see any significant boot speed improvements. Post your results in the comments if you notice anything significant either way.

I’ve been using the Firefox 4.0 beta and so far it’s quite good. It’s slowly wooing me away from using Chrome/Chromium and that’s saying a lot. I think openSUSE users will really appreciate it after they spend some time using it. It seems to be significantly better than the 3.x version of Firefox.

Firefox 4

Firefox 4

I’m very happy to see LibreOffice 3.3.1 included with this release. The sooner all distros switch away from OpenOffice, the better.


LibreOffice Word Processor

System Requirements
Here’s what you’ll need to run this update:

  • Pentium* III 500 MHz or higher processor (Pentium 4 2.4 GHz or higher or any AMD64 or Intel* EM64T processor recommended)
  • 512 MB physical RAM (1 GB recommended)
  • 3 GB available disk space (more recommended)
  • 800 x 600 display resolution (1024 x 768 or higher recommended)

openSUSE’s installer is one of the fastest, easiest ones available for desktop Linux. The install took about ten minutes or so, and I had no problems with it. Even total newbies to Linux should not have a problem installing openSUSE 11.4. See the image gallery page for all images of the install process.

When the install is complete you’ll see a welcome message that provides additional information. This is particularly helpful to those new to openSUSE 11.4, it reminds me of Linux Mint’s excellent welcome message.

Install 1

Install 1




openSUSE 11.4 comes with a respectable but not overwhelming selection of software. Here’s a sample of what you’ll find:

5 desktop games
K3b Disk Burner


Managing software through YaST2 leaves a little to be desired. Don’t get me wrong, YaST2 is highly functional, but it’s a bit of an eyesore. It screams “developer” instead of “user.” Linux Mint’s software manager and the Ubuntu Software Center are both much more welcoming and pleasing to the eye. I recognize that some folks could care less about the aesthetics of a software management tool, but there are newer users to think about and YaST2 just looks rather cold and sterile compared to other software managers.

I’d like to see an overhaul of YaST2′s software manager to make it aesthetically closer to the software management tools I mentioned above.

Software Manager

Software Manager

Using openSUSE 11.4
openSUSE 11.4 performed very well for me. I didn’t have any system crashes or other noticeable headaches.

The desktop is attractive and very well branded. You know that it’s openSUSE you are using and not some other distro. As always, I disliked the sliding KDE menus though and promptly switched to the classic menus by right clicking the green openSUSE button on the panel. I’ll never warm up to those sliding menus. Ugh.

openSUSE 11.4 is also organized well so it’s fairly easy to find the applications and tools you are looking for.



Final Thoughts
openSUSE 11.4 is definitely worth checking out if you are in the market for a desktop distro. It’s arguably one of the best desktop distros available, and I expect it to remain among the top choices for a long time.

Beginners, intermediate and advanced users can all enjoy openSUSE 11.4.

Distrohoppers should absolutely give it a download and check it out in a virtual machine or on real hardware. It’s well worth the download time.

Click to the next page to view the image gallery.

What’s your take on this distro? Tell me in the comments. For full distro reviews, visit Desktop Linux Reviews.


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11 Responses to openSUSE 11.4

  1. Rick on March 31, 2011 at 4:08 am

    Hi Jim,

    Just wanted to say thanks for the work you’re doing here on Eye on Linux as well as the Desktop Linux Reviews site. Your reviews (and the wonderful insight of Brian Masnick) have actually served as my “gateway drug” into the open-source community, and in February I finally ditched my Mac for Linux permanently.

    My problem is I’m a bit of a distrohopper. I started with Linux Mint Debian Edition based on your recommendation, but it seemed like I was always maintaining it (for example, my wireless didn’t work at first, then I had issues with VLC, then my trackpad suddenly stopped working). I’ve also tried the Mint Xfce offshoot, the SimplyMEPIS 11.0 RC, Ubuntu/Kubuntu, and finally I’m now using Jolicloud until the next new thing comes along.

    The vast array of distro choices is actually my “problem.” I don’t need much raw power, but I would like something that’s lean and responsive as well as slick-looking. I’m using a netbook and only doing daily computing tasks (web surfing, office stuff, organizing media), and after reading your Quick Take on OpenSUSE 11.4, I’m wondering if this just might be the distro that I stick with.

    Do you (or any other commenters) have a recommendation for a decent netbook OS? I’d prefer something non-cloud based as I like to have my local apps and media stored on my hard drive.

    Also, does OpenSUSE 11.4 include Xfce as a desktop choice?

  2. Monarky on March 30, 2011 at 5:14 am

    Although I’ve had my fair share of trouble with SuSE in prior installs, after reading your quick look review, I’ve decided to give this distro another shot. It been at least 4 to 5yrs and though the update versions don’t show much change, I’ll see what happens with a roll your own appliance before committing to a full native install! Thanks!!! :w00t:

  3. Ryan on March 15, 2011 at 4:14 pm

    Just a historical note, Suse had the welcome screen (in almost the exact form it is today) all the back at least to Suse 9.3 (~2005) far before Mint was around.

  4. Tatewaki on March 15, 2011 at 11:44 am

    About the installer of software:

    There are 2 GUI’s for installing software in OpenSuse 11.4:
    1. Yast2
    2. kPackageKit

    kPackageKit has the same look as in Kubuntu and are much more user oriented. You got the nice icons with categories and everything.

    Here is a link to a picture: http://desktoplinuxreviews.com/2010/10/13/kubuntu-10-10/kpackagekit1/

  5. PrinceCruise on March 14, 2011 at 8:22 pm

    I have downloaded 11.4 Kde, going against my taste of Gnome. Gnome in OpenSuse is the last thing I want to see as my desktop now, it’s just plain useless, argue over it or not.
    My previous experiences with OpenSuse 11.1 Kde and 11.2 Gnome were kinda mix and 11.3 release was a crap out of some bluest of hells.

    I’m still wandering if it’s worth a try as live USB, It’s sure not gonna be my main desktop in any near future unless it beats the functionality of any of the Mint flavors IMO.

    Prince Sharma

  6. darkduck on March 14, 2011 at 5:17 pm

    here is my review of 11.4, if anyone is interested…


  7. Joe on March 14, 2011 at 3:08 am

    Installed fine and ran good; until I installed the NVIDIA driver. Now, plasma crashes a lot and Amarok doesn’t ever start anymore.

    Tried installing on 6 different machine and all exhibit the same issues after installing NVIDIA driver.

    Gnome has no issues – KDE 4.x is no good. Always something wrong with it these days. 3.5.x was the last of the KDE line that worked. Its a shame too…


  8. Golodh on March 13, 2011 at 10:09 am

    @David (FSF Supporter)

    Samba is included on the ISO image you can download for Open SuSE 11.4. Whether it’s installed by default depends on what sort of system (as in what roles it should be able to play) you tell the installer you want.

    If you tell the installer that your computer ought to be able to function as a file server, then Samba will be installed by default; otherwise it will not. And yes, it’s possible to complete the install without ever seeing the words “file server”, or “Samba”.

    If you don’t tell the installer to configure your computer to serve up files, you can still add Samba (and other software that isn’t part of a “standard desktop”) during the configuration phase by clicking the clickable text “Software” in the “Installation Settings” screen you will be presented with to see that.

    The installer could have been set up to be a little bit more explicit about what kind of system you want to set up instead of defaulting to a “standard desktop”, but I can live with it. I think that people who know they want Samba are a little beyond the end-user who just wants to be able to click his way to the web browser and the text processor.

  9. Carl Johnson on March 11, 2011 at 8:32 pm

    Regarding the YaST2 software manager:

    It’s a lot prettier in the Gnome version.

    • Brian Masinick on March 11, 2011 at 11:12 pm

      Jim, though YAST2 is still a bit of a beast, I found it better than it was just a few releases ago, and I would also like to comment that you DO NOT need to use YAST2 to install software. There are other alternatives in both the KDE, GNOME, Xfce, and LXDE variations. Frankly, quite often I just look up the command line zypper tool syntax once, then create a couple of two to four character aliases, such as dl to download but not install packages, ug to upgrade the system, and inst to install one or more packages. Perhaps the beginner can’t handle that, but it makes me wish that someone would put just a wrapper GUI around some simple GUI scripts that would actually call command line tools (because they are significantly faster in operation).

      Aside from that, while I cannot recall the GUI tool this instant, there is something analogous to the Update Manager and Software Manager typically found in the Ubuntu line of products, so check around a bit more. I can come back later with the information – or correct myself if I am confusing systems.

      In any case, openSUSE 11.4, with or without an easier tool than YAST2, is still massively powerful, and the YAST2 tool, overall, makes a great system management tool. Like Mandriva, the two of them have better than average tools, and only the old Libranet, in my mind, had better tools. So system management tools in SUSE, from my perspective, is a major differentiator from other distributions. Couple that with an easy installation, excellent hardware support, a variety of appearance options, but a consistent default theme and brand; putting it all together, it is an outstanding system.

  10. David (FSF Supporter) on March 11, 2011 at 10:07 am

    I can never understand why Samba isn’t included by default…having it so would make for a more attractive proposition IMHO.

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