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The Perfect Desktop – OpenSUSE 11.3 (GNOME)


This tutorial shows how you can set up an OpenSUSE 11.3 desktop that is a full-fledged replacement for a Windows desktop, i.e. that has all the software that people need to do the things they do on their Windows desktops. The advantages are clear: you get a secure system without DRM restrictions that works even on old hardware, and the best thing is: all software comes free of charge.

I want to say first that this is not the only way of setting up such a system. There are many ways of achieving this goal but this is the way I take. I do not issue any guarantee that this will work for you!

 

1 Preliminary Note

To fully replace a Windows desktop, I want the OpenSUSE 11.3 desktop to have the following software installed:

Graphics:

  • The GIMP – free software replacement for Adobe Photoshop
  • F-Spot – full-featured personal photo management application for the GNOME desktop
  • Google Picasa – application for organizing and editing digital photos

Internet:

  • Firefox
  • Opera
  • Flash Player 10
  • Gnome FTP – multithreaded FTP client
  • Thunderbird – email and news client
  • Evolution – combines e-mail, calendar, address book, and task list management functions
  • Azureus/Vuze – Java Bittorrent client
  • Transmission BitTorrent Client
  • Empathy – multi-platform instant messaging client
  • Skype
  • Google Earth
  • Xchat IRC – IRC client

Office:

  • OpenOffice Writer – replacement for Microsoft Word
  • OpenOffice Calc – replacement for Microsoft Excel
  • Adobe Reader
  • GnuCash – double-entry book-keeping personal finance system, similar to Quicken
  • Scribus – open source desktop publishing (DTP) application

Sound & Video:

  • Amarok – audio player
  • Audacity – free, open source, cross platform digital audio editor
  • Banshee – audio player, can encode/decode various formats and synchronize music with Apple iPods
  • MPlayer – media player (video/audio), supports WMA
  • Rhythmbox Music Player – audio player, similar to Apple’s iTunes, with support for iPods
  • gtkPod – software similar to Apple’s iTunes, supports iPod, iPod nano, iPod shuffle, iPod photo, and iPod mini
  • XMMS – audio player similar to Winamp
  • dvd::rip – full featured DVD copy program
  • Sound Juicer CD Extractor – CD ripping tool, supports various audio codecs
  • VLC Media Player – media player (video/audio)
  • Helix Player
  • Totem – media player (video/audio)
  • Xine – media player, supports various formats; can play DVDs
  • Brasero – CD/DVD burning program
  • K3B – CD/DVD burning program
  • Multimedia-Codecs

Programming:

  • Bluefish – text editor, suitable for many programming and markup languages
  • Kompozer – WYSIWYG HTML editor, similar to Macromedia Dreamweaver, but not as feature-rich (yet)
  • Quanta Plus – web development environment, including a WYSIWYG editor

Other:

  • VirtualBox – lets you run your old Windows desktop as a virtual machine under your Linux desktop, so you don’t have to entirely abandon Windows
  • TrueType fonts
  • Java
  • Read/Write support for NTFS partitions

As you might have noticed, a few applications are redundant, for example there are two CD/DVD burning applications in my list (Brasero, K3B). If you know which one you like best, you obviously don’t need to install the other applications, however if you like choice, then of course you can install both. The same goes for music players like Amarok, Banshee, Rhythmbox, XMMS or browsers (Firefox, Opera).

I’m using the OpenSUSE 11.3 GNOME Live-CD in this tutorial to set up the system. You can download it from here: http://software.opensuse.org/113/en

I will use the username falko in this tutorial, and I will download all necessary files to falko‘s desktop which is equivalent to the directory /home/falko/Desktop. If you use another username (which you most probably do ;-)), please replace falko with your own username. So when I use a command like

cd /home/falko/Desktop

you must replace falko.

 

2 Installing The Base System

Download the OpenSUSE 11.3 GNOME Live-CD iso image, burn it onto a CD, and boot your computer from it:

1

Select openSUSE Live (GNOME):

2

This is how the live desktop looks. Click on the Live Installer icon to start the installation:

3

The installer starts. Select your language and keyboard layout and click on Next:

4

Select your time zone:

5

On the partitioning screen, you can either customize the partitioning, or you accept the default partitioning (which is also available as LVM – select LVM Based if you’d like to use the default partitioning with LVM):

6

Create a user account for yourself. If you check Use this password for system administrator, your user password will also be the root password:

7

Before the actual installation begins, the installer displays a summary of your settings. If the settings are ok, click on the Install button:

8

Confirm that you want to begin the installation – the hard drive will be formatted:

9

An OpenSUSE 11.3 image with default settings is now being copied to the hard drive:

10

After the installation, the installer asks you to reboot the system. Click on Reboot Now – this will immediately reboot the computer:

11

Before the system boots up again, please remove the LiveCD from the CD drive.

3 First Boot

When the system boots for the first time, it tries to customize the OpenSUSE image that got installed to the hard drive with default settings. It does so to adjust the image to your system (hardware drivers, etc.):

12

This is how your new OpenSUSE 11.3 desktop looks:

14

4 Updating Software Packages

Now let’s check for the latest updates. To update the system, go to Computer > YaST:

15

Type in the root password:

16

In YaST, select Online Update:

17

A window opens where you can see the latest updates. Click on Apply to install them:

18

The updates are being downloaded and installed:

19

5 Inventory Of What We Have So Far

Now let’s browse all menus under Computer > More Applications… to see which of our needed applications are already installed:

20

21

You should find the following situation ([x] marks an application that is already installed, where [ ] is an application that is missing):

Graphics:
[x] Gimp
[x] F-Spot
[ ] Picasa

Internet:
[x] Firefox
[ ] Opera
[ ] Flash Player
[x] Gnome FTP
[ ] Thunderbird
[x] Evolution
[ ] Azureus/Vuze
[x] Transmission BitTorrent Client
[x] Empathy
[ ] Skype
[ ] Google Earth
[x] Xchat IRC

Office:
[x] OpenOffice Writer
[x] OpenOffice Calc
[ ] Adobe Reader
[ ] GnuCash
[ ] Scribus

Sound & Video:
[ ] Amarok
[ ] Audacity
[x] Banshee
[ ] MPlayer
[ ] Rhythmbox Music Player
[ ] gtkPod
[ ] XMMS
[ ] dvd::rip
[ ] Sound Juicer CD Extractor
[ ] VLC Media Player
[ ] Helix Player
[x] Totem
[ ] Xine
[x] Brasero
[ ] K3B
[ ] Multimedia-Codecs

Programming:
[ ] Bluefish
[ ] Kompozer
[ ] Quanta Plus

Other:
[ ] VirtualBox
[ ] TrueType Fonts
[ ] Java
[x] Read/Write Support for NTFS Partitions

So some applications are already on the system… NTFS read-/write support is enabled by default on OpenSUSE 11.3.

6 Configure Online Software Repositories

Now we configure the online software repositories that our OpenSUSE 11.3 system will use to install further software. Go to Computer > YaST:

22

You will have to type in the root password:

23

In YaST, select Software Repositories:

24

The Configured Software Repositories window opens. Click on the Add button:

25

Select Community Repositories:

26

You will get a list of predefined online repositories. Select them all to make sure your system can install all available OpenSUSE 11.3 packages if they are needed. Click on OK afterwards:

27

Now the lists of available packages are being downloaded from the repositories. It’s possible that your system doesn’t know the public keys of all repositories, so if you see a message like this, you can click on the Import button:

28

You might as well have to accept a few licenses:

29

Afterwards you can close YaST:

30

7 Installing Additional Software

Now that we have added additional repositories, a lot more packages are available in our package manager for installation, especially a big deal of our needed packages. To install them, go to Computer > Install/Remove Software:

33

Type in the root password:

34

The Software Manager window comes up. You can use the Find field to search for the wanted packages:

35

To mark a package for installation, check the checkbox in front of it:

36

Select the following packages for installation (* is a wildcard; e.g. xmms2* means all packages that start with xmms2):

  • opera
  • MozillaThunderbird
  • Vuze
  • MPlayer
  • mplayerplug-in
  • xmms2*
  • dvdrip
  • vlc
  • vlc-mozillaplugin
  • acroread
  • gnucash
  • scribus
  • scribus-templates
  • amarok
  • audacity
  • rhythmbox
  • gtkpod
  • sound-juicer
  • xine-ui
  • libxine1-codecs
  • k3b
  • w32codec-all
  • libdvdcss
  • kompozer
  • kdewebdev4
  • free-ttf-fonts
  • gstreamer-0_10*
  • java-1_6_0-openjdk
  • java-1_6_0-openjdk-plugin
  • java-1_6_0-sun-plugin
  • lsb (needed by Helix Player)
  • libqt4-devel (needed by Skype)
  • virtualbox-ose
  • bluefish
  • flash-player

Click on the Apply button afterwards:

37

Confirm your selection by clicking on Apply again:

38

The packages are now being downloaded from the repositories and installed. This can take a few minutes, so please be patient. You might have to accept a few licenses:

39

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7.1 Additional Codecs

Now open Firefox and go to http://opensuse-community.org/codecs-gnome.ymp. Select Open with YaST Meta Package Handler (default) in the Firefox download dialogue:

41

This is a meta package that installs some additional codecs – just follow the YaST installation wizard:

42

7.2 Finish The VirtualBox Installation

To finish the VirtualBox installation (we’ve already installed the virtualbox-ose package), we need to add our desktop user (falko in my case) to the vboxusers group. To do this, open a terminal and become root:

su

Run the following command…

usermod -G vboxusers falko

… and log out of your desktop and back in for the changes to take effect.

 

7.3 Flash Player

To see if the Flash Player has been installed correctly, open Firefox and type about:plugins in the address bar. Firefox will then list all installed plugins, and it should list the Flash Player (version 10.1r53) among them:

46

8 Inventory (II)

Now let’s check again what we have so far by browsing the menus again.

47

Our inventory should now look like this:

Graphics:
[x] Gimp
[x] F-Spot
[ ] Picasa

Internet:
[x] Firefox
[x] Opera
[x] Flash Player
[x] Gnome FTP
[x] Thunderbird
[x] Evolution
[x] Azureus/Vuze
[x] Transmission BitTorrent Client
[x] Empathy
[ ] Skype
[ ] Google Earth
[x] Xchat IRC

Office:
[x] OpenOffice Writer
[x] OpenOffice Calc
[x] Adobe Reader
[x] GnuCash
[x] Scribus

Sound & Video:
[x] Amarok
[x] Audacity
[x] Banshee
[x] MPlayer
[x] Rhythmbox Music Player
[x] gtkPod
[x] XMMS
[x] dvd::rip
[x] Sound Juicer CD Extractor
[x] VLC Media Player
[ ] Helix Player
[x] Totem
[x] Xine
[x] Brasero
[x] K3B
[x] Multimedia-Codecs

Programming:
[x] Bluefish
[x] Kompozer
[x] Quanta Plus

Other:
[x] VirtualBox
[ ] TrueType Fonts
[x] Java
[x] Read/Write Support for NTFS Partitions

9 TrueType Fonts

Open Firefox and go to ftp://ftp.gwdg.de/pub/linux/misc/suser-jengelh/AnyDistro/noarch/MicrosoftFonts-1-jen15.noarch.rpm. Select Open with Install/Remove Software (default) in the Firefox download dialogue:

48

Click on Install:

49

Type in the root password:

50

Afterwards, the package gets installed:

51

Afterwards, you can open a word processor like OpenOffice, and you should find a lot of new fonts there (like Arial, Verdana, etc.).

52

10 Skype

To download Skype, go to http://www.skype.com/download/skype/linux/, and click on the Download now button:

53

Select OpenSUSE 11+:

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In the Firefox download dialogue, select Open with Install/Remove Software (default)

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… and install the package as shown in chapter 9 (TrueType Fonts).

11 Helix Player

Go to

https://player.helixcommunity.org/ and click on the Helix Player 11 Gold Linux x86 rpm link:

56

Then install the package as shown in chapter 9 (TrueType Fonts).

 

12 Picasa

Go to http://picasa.google.com/linux/download.html#picasa30 and select the rpm, for Red Hat/Fedora/Suse/Mandriva i386 or x86_64:

57

Then install the package as shown in chapter 9 (TrueType Fonts).

 

13 Google Earth

To install Google Earth, open a terminal and become root:

su

Then run

cd /home/falko/Desktop
wget http://dl.google.com/earth/client/current/GoogleEarthLinux.bin
sh GoogleEarthLinux.bin

This will download Google Earth and start the installation. A Google Earth Setup window opens. Accept all default settings and click on Begin Install:

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After the installation, you can click on Quit or on Start, if you want to start Google Earth now:

60

Afterwards, we delete the Google Earth installer:

rm -f GoogleEarthLinux.bin

 

14 Inventory (III)

We have now all wanted applications installed:

Graphics:
[x] Gimp
[x] F-Spot
[x] Picasa

Internet:
[x] Firefox
[x] Opera
[x] Flash Player
[x] Gnome FTP
[x] Thunderbird
[x] Evolution
[x] Azureus/Vuze
[x] Transmission BitTorrent Client
[x] Empathy
[x] Skype
[x] Google Earth
[x] Xchat IRC

Office:
[x] OpenOffice Writer
[x] OpenOffice Calc
[x] Adobe Reader
[x] GnuCash
[x] Scribus

Sound & Video:
[x] Amarok
[x] Audacity
[x] Banshee
[x] MPlayer
[x] Rhythmbox Music Player
[x] gtkPod
[x] XMMS
[x] dvd::rip
[x] Sound Juicer CD Extractor
[x] VLC Media Player
[x] Helix Player
[x] Totem
[x] Xine
[x] Brasero
[x] K3B
[x] Multimedia-Codecs

Programming:
[x] Bluefish
[x] Kompozer
[x] Quanta Plus

Other:
[x] VirtualBox
[x] TrueType Fonts
[x] Java
[x] Read/Write Support for NTFS Partitions

 

  • OpenSUSE: http://www.opensuse.org/

 

 

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