Getting Started with openSUSE Tumbleweed in 2020

OpenSUSE easily remains my favorite Fedora alternative. Its a fast, feature filled, professional Linux distribution with strong corporate backing and awesome developers.

If you’re still on the fence about trying openSUSE, check out my list of the Top Reasons to Use openSUSE.. Or watch the video below. I appreciate any team that will come up with clever parody videos.

Get Up to Date

The first step in any fresh install is to update your system. Open a command line (Terminal in Gnome or more likely Konsole in KDE) and enter the following command:

sudo zypper dup 

Unlike openSUSE Leap, it can be a good idea to run Tumbleweed updates with the distro upgrade or dup command. This will move your rolling release distro to the latest snapshot.

Basic Commands

Adding Packman Repo via Command Line

Packman conveniently groups several third party repositories together and is the largest group of third party packages built for openSUSE. Packman can be easily enabled via the Terminal.

sudo zypper addrepo --refresh --priority 90 https://ftp.gwdg.de/pub/linux/misc/packman/suse/openSUSE_Tumbleweed/packman.repo

After adding the Packman repo, its necessary to refresh and move package updates to the Packman repository.

sudo zypper refresh
sudo zypper dist-upgrade --from packman --allow-downgrade --allow-vendor-change

OPI or OpenBuildService Package Installer will also install the Packman repo.

sudo zypper install opi
opi packman

Adding Repos via YaST

Packman can also be enabled via the YaST Software Repository Tool. Hit the Super key (aka Windows key) and search for Software Repository. Click on Add. On the next window, choose Community Repositories. Select the preferred repos from there. I would recommend choosing Packman and Libdvdcss to enable movie DVD playback. YaST will prompt to import keys for each repo. Click Trust and carry on.

Additional repos such as Nvidia can be enabled here as well.

Multimedia Codecs

Only free and open codecs are installed in OpenSUSE by default. YaST has a convenient 1 Click Installer to enable the proper repositories and install the necessary codecs for multimedia playback. YaST One Click Installers only work with Firefox. To ensure the packages install correctly, always select with Vendor Change.

Codecs can also be installed with the command line. First, add the necessary repos. If you’ve already added Packman there’s no need to do so again. The second repo is for DVD playback capability.

sudo zypper addrepo --refresh --priority 90 https://ftp.gwdg.de/pub/linux/misc/packman/suse/openSUSE_Tumbleweed/packman.repo
sudo zypper addrepo -f http://opensuse-guide.org/repo/openSUSE_Tumbleweed/ dvd

Ensure the packages are coming from Packman.

sudo zypper dup --allow-vendor-change --from http://packman.inode.at/suse/openSUSE_Tumbleweed/

Once the repos are added, install the codecs and DVD support.

sudo zypper --allow-vendor-change in libdvdcss2 libxine2-codecs libxine2-pulse lame gstreamer-0_10-plugins-ffmpeg gstreamer-0_10-plugins-bad gstreamer-0_10-plugins-ugly gstreamer-0_10-plugins-ugly-orig-addon totem-browser-plugin gstreamer-0_10-plugins-good libxine2 libdvdplay0 libdvdread4 libdvdnav4 libmad0 libavutil51 sox libxvidcore4 xvidcore libavcodec52 libavdevice52 libvlc5 totem-plugins nautilus-totem lsb pullin-flash-player vlc-codecs gstreamer-0_10-fluendo-mp3 gstreamer-0_10-plugins-fluendo_mpegdemux gstreamer-0_10-plugins-fluendo_mpegmux gstreamer-0_10-plugins-base gstreamer-0_10-plugins-good-extra libquicktime0 gstreamer-0_10-plugins-bad-orig-addon

Graphics Drivers

While there is a 1 Click for this, I don’t recommend it. If you know you have an Nvidia card, use the Terminal. Add the Nvidia repo first.

sudo zypper addrepo -f https://download.nvidia.com/opensuse/tumbleweed nvidia

Then use the following command to install the driver. It should install the correct one automatically.

sudo zypper install-new-recommends --repo https://download.nvidia.com/opensuse/tumbleweed

AMD and Intel graphics are well supported in Linux. The included drivers should work well.

Install Apps via Terminal or 1 Click

Most of these applications can be found in the Software Center but, frankly, this is just easier. So copy and Ctrl+Shift+V right into the Terminal. OpenSUSE is also awesome for the 1 Click Install system. Hit the 1 Click links and watch YaST do the rest.

Use caution with 1 Click. Stick with default repos whenever possible. It’s very easy to add extra unnecessary repos when using 1 Click. Those extra repos can add up, slow down updates, and cause problems due to version differences. If in doubt, use the terminal.

Gnome Tweak Tool makes it easy to modify the system. 1 Click

sudo zypper in gnome-tweak-tool 

VLC is a popular media player. 1 Click

sudo zypper in vlc 

Multimedia Codecs – If previously installed in this guide, there’s no need to repeat the command.

sudo zypper in libdvdcss2 libxine2-codecs libxine2-pulse lame gstreamer-0_10-plugins-ffmpeg gstreamer-0_10-plugins-bad gstreamer-0_10-plugins-ugly gstreamer-0_10-plugins-ugly-orig-addon totem-browser-plugin gstreamer-0_10-plugins-good libxine2 libdvdplay0 libdvdread4 libdvdnav4 libmad0 libavutil51 sox libxvidcore4 xvidcore libavcodec52 libavdevice52 libvlc5 totem-plugins nautilus-totem lsb pullin-flash-player vlc-codecs gstreamer-0_10-fluendo-mp3 gstreamer-0_10-plugins-fluendo_mpegdemux gstreamer-0_10-plugins-fluendo_mpegmux gstreamer-0_10-plugins-base gstreamer-0_10-plugins-good-extra libquicktime0 gstreamer-0_10-plugins-bad-orig-addon

Archive tools

sudo zypper in rar unrar p7zip tar bzip gzip

GIMP. 1 Click

sudo zypper in gimp 

QBittorrent – Bittorrent client. 1 Click

sudo zypper in qbittorrent 

Audacity – audio editor. 1 Click

sudo zypper in audacity 

YouTube production program. Not available in official repos but can be downloaded from the community. 1 Click

KDE Partition Manager. 1 Click

sudo zypper in partitionmanager

GParted – partition management utility. 1 Click

sudo zypper in gparted 

Chromium or Chrome. 1 Click

sudo zypper addrepo https://download.opensuse.org/repositories/openSUSE:Factory/standard/openSUSE:Factory.repo
sudo zypper refresh
sudo zypper install chromium

OR if you want to install full blown Google-ized Chrome. If you want to install a different version, change the package from -stable to -beta or -unstable.

sudo zypper ar http://dl.google.com/linux/chrome/rpm/stable/x86_64 Google-Chrome
wget https://dl.google.com/linux/linux_signing_key.pub
sudo rpm --import linux_signing_key.pub
sudo zypper ref -f
sudo zypper in google-chrome-stable

Non Repo Software 

AppImageLauncher is an AppImage management utility. It makes it easier to track which AppImages have been installed on your system, helps to integrate them, and allows the user to easily remove them. It is available for download as an AppImage, DEB, RPM, and Tarball.

Brave is a widely popular privacy focused browser based on Chromium. While I prefer Firefox and I don’t want to see a Google dominated Internet, Brave is still an excellent choice for web browsing. Chrome extensions are available on it and it can sync between platforms. Then there’s BAT, Basic Attention Tokens. Brave will pay you to look at ads. Granted, its in BATs but they can be converted to good ole fashion currency, if that’s your thing. They can also be used to tip your favorite content creators.

Bitwarden is an open source password manager akin to LastPass or 1Pass. It integrates nicely on Android and has autofill ability. It syncs passwords across Android, Linux, ,iOS, OS X, and Windows. Bitwarden can be installed through AppImage, DEB, RPM, and Snap. DEB and RPM packages do not auto update. CLI Tools are available along with browser extensions for most browsers.

Simplenote is a free note taking app developed by Automattic (the WordPress people). Simplenote syncs across virtually everything and supports AppImage, DEB, and RPM. Part of the appeal of Simplenote is markdown support but the other cool thing is WordPress support. Simplenote can be tied to a WordPress account for easy WordPress posting.

Standard Notes is a lot like Simplenote. Its free. Its open source. Its crazy cross platform. If the Automattic/Wordpress relationship makes you uncomfortable or maybe you just don’t need it, try Standard Notes instead. Standard Notes has one big advantage over Simplenote: extensions. Yes, the extensions do cost but they effectively turn Standard Notes into a mini office suite with support for markdown, rich text, LaTeX, and HTML to backup support for Dropbox, Google Drive, and OneDrive.

Try a secure email service like Protonmail or Tutanota. Or even Msgsafe. Gmail, Outlook, and other free email services offer tons of storage. In exchange, they mine your data to show you ads. Secure email services encrypt your data so they are unable to read it. Tutanota offers a free AppImage desktop client while Protonmail enables IMAP with a paid plan.

KDE Plasma Customization

The KDE Plasma desktop environment is ridiculously customizable. It can be made to look like Apple’s Mac OS X or Microsoft’s Windows 98, XP, 7, or 10. A good starting point is using the built in Global Theme.

Plasma Global Theme allows users to easily change the look and feel of the desktop

After opening Global Themes, click Get New Global Themes in the bottom right corner. Themes can be sorted by date, number of downloads, and popularity. Themes can also be searched. I start with a Mac OS X theme like McMojave or PlasmaSur. Check the box use desktop layout from theme to allow the theme to change panel location and settings. Themes can also be applied without modifying layout.

Latte Dock looks great here. Install Latte Dock with the following command.

sudo zypper in latte-dock

After installing Latte Dock, manually launch it the first time. Right click on the dock to change the appearance and settings.

Rather than the traditional application launcher, I prefer the the application overview. Right click on the application launcher and choose Show Alternatives… There are three options to choose from. Find what works best for you.

That’s the beauty of KDE and Plasma. There is so much customization build directly into the desktop environment. No two systems need to be alike.

Gnome Extensions

OpenSUSE is the KDE distro. I like Gnome too so I have to throw some extensions in here. I don’t recommend using many Gnome Extensions. They allow easy customization of the desktop but more than a couple may hurt system performance.

GSConnect works with the KDE Connect app on Android. Before I go any further: Do not install KDE Connect on your Gnome system. It will interfere with GSConnect. GSConnect is the Gnome implementation of KDE Connect. The Android app works with both. Similarly, do not attempt Gnome extensions on KDE. They won’t work. KDE Connect is included in the KDE Plasma version of openSUSE.

GS Connect

That said, GSConnect allows notification syncing so that your phone calls, messages, and app notifications will all appear on your desktop. Phone battery life is also displayed. It goes beyond just notifications though.

GS COnnect Messaging

Text messages can be responded to or even started from the desktop. It also opens up file transfers between devices. While I like Google Messages for RCS and web access, it doesn’t compare to the features GSConnect offers.

My other pick is Dash to Dock. Gnome’s default dock is just meh. Dash to Dock opens up more settings options like how to handle clicking on icons (minimize, preview, cycle), theme, size, and so forth.

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