2 Minute Linux Review: openSUSE Tumbleweed 2023

openSUSE Tumbleweed is a rolling release version of the openSUSE Linux distribution, which offers the latest stable versions of all software packages without relying on rigid periodic release cycles. It is based on Factory, the main development codebase of openSUSE, and it is updated frequently after thorough testing and quality assurance through their openQA program. In this review, I will provide a brief overview of openSUSE Tumbleweed and a few thoughts on my experience using it.

One of the main advantages of openSUSE Tumbleweed is that it provides users with the newest features and developments in the Linux world, such as fresh kernels, drivers, desktop environments, and applications. This can be beneficial for power users, software developers, and openSUSE contributors who need or want to have the most cutting-edge software on their systems. Moreover, openSUSE Tumbleweed is continuously updated, which means that users do not have to worry about massive system upgrades every six months or so, as they would with other Linux distributions. Instead, they can install Tumbleweed once and enjoy it forever, as long as they keep their systems up to date with a single command.

Another advantage of openSUSE Tumbleweed is that it is stable and reliable, despite being a rolling release. This is because openSUSE has a rigorous quality assurance process that ensures that each new version of a package is individually tested, and that different clusters of versions are tested against each other, to make sure that the system is internally consistent and does not break. Furthermore, openSUSE uses the Btrfs file system, which allows users to take snapshots of their system state and rollback to a previous state in case of any problems. This makes Tumbleweed a safe and secure operating system that can handle any unexpected issues.

However, openSUSE Tumbleweed also has some disadvantages that users should be aware of before choosing it as their operating system. One of the main disadvantages is that Tumbleweed may not be compatible with some third-party kernel modules or proprietary drivers, especially for graphics cards. This is because the Linux kernel is updated very frequently in Tumbleweed, and some external modules or drivers may not keep up with the changes or may not be available at all. Therefore, users who rely on such modules or drivers should either know how to compile them from source or avoid using Tumbleweed altogether. Alternatively, they can use openSUSE Leap, which is a more stable and conservative version of openSUSE that has longer release cycles and supports more hardware although Leap is approaching end of life in the near future.

Another disadvantage of Tumbleweed is that it may not be suitable for users who prefer a more stable and predictable operating system, or who do not want to deal with frequent updates. While Tumbleweed is generally stable and well-tested, it is still a rolling release, which means that it is constantly changing and evolving, and that some bugs or issues may occasionally slip through. Moreover, Tumbleweed requires users to update their systems regularly, which may consume bandwidth, disk space, and time. Users who do not want to deal with these aspects of a rolling release may prefer a more traditional Linux distribution that has fixed release cycles and fewer updates.

In my experience, Tumbleweed provides a very reliable system with only minor issues. The first issue has been a personal complaint for several years. By default, RPM packages aren’t handled correctly. Changing the default application for RPMs to YaST Software fixes this problem, but a new user may not realize the problem. The default in KDE Plasma is for the Discover Software Center to handle RPMs, but in openSUSE, it cannot install them resulting in a fairly meaningless error message. With the strong emphasis on YaST in openSUSE, it seems logical for the default application to be YaST Software.

Additionally, installing third party (non repo) software even through YaST Software results in an integrity check failure. This can be easily ignored and the software will install properly. Again though, this is unclear to users. When I first seriously tried openSUSE several years ago, I was frustrated by the difficulty I had with installing packages.

Another area of inconvenience is the battle between PackageKit and YaST Software. I know how to avoid it, but it shouldn’t be an issue anyway. Developers, please, I implore you to just remove Discover. If I recall correctly, Gnome Software Center isn’t included in the Gnome version.

My last area of concern for openSUSE is the lack of documentation. There is excellent official documentation available but compared to more popular Linux distros such as Ubuntu and Fedora, the information is sparse. In testing openSUSE Tumbleweed, I would do an online search to see what answers I could find. Not anything I specifically had trouble with but often how to change a setting or add a particular codec, all things I would do on any distro. Even when searching for openSUSE specific guides, most results skewed towards Ubuntu.

That’s not to say openSUSE Tumbleweed is a bad distro by any means. When I attempted to install Flatseal on Fedora first as an RPM then as a Flatpak, it first failed to open then it crashed when it did. A problem I never solved. In testing Tumbleweed, I have yet to encounter a software crash or application which failed to load. Everything has worked flawlessly.

I also appreciate the absolute ease in installing third party codecs. Its nearly as simple as Ubuntu’s ubuntu-restricted-extras. Install opi which is a front end for the Open Build Service and use it to install codecs with the command opi codecs. Seriously simple. There are several prompts along the way, but it enables the appropriate repositories and installs the codecs.

In conclusion, openSUSE Tumbleweed is a rolling release version of the openSUSE Linux distribution that offers the latest stable versions of all software packages without relying on rigid periodic release cycles. It is based on Factory, the main development codebase of openSUSE, and it is updated frequently after thorough testing and quality assurance. openSUSE Tumbleweed has many advantages, such as providing users with the newest features and developments in the Linux world, being continuously updated, and being stable and reliable. However, it also has some disadvantages, such as being incompatible with some third-party kernel modules or proprietary drivers, and being unsuitable for users who prefer a more stable and predictable operating system, or who do not want to deal with frequent updates. Therefore, users should weigh the pros and cons of using openSUSE Tumbleweed before deciding whether it is the right operating system for them.

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