Replacing Windows 7 with openSUSE 11.2

The title is not exactly correct. What I have done is to replace Windows 7 RC (the last free down loadable Release Candidate of Windows 7) with openSUSE 11.2.

I had been running Windows 7 RC in a dual boot configuration with Windows Vista for a few months. Windows Vista with all of the latest upgrades is fine for me and I am tired of testing Windows 7. While Windows 7 improved some things, it does not look good enough to invest $$ to buy a commercial version. With Windows 8 expected in 2012, I will stick with Vista.

Also with the way that Linux is improving, by the time Windows 8 is ready, there won’t be any need of my considering it.

I have been running openSUSE 11.2 on my second PC since its release. The upgrade to the KDE 4.3 desktop has been a tremendous improvement. openSUSE is using the KDE desktop as its default desktop, but Gnome is offered as an option. I prefer KDE over Gnome, but I could use both and switch at log-in time.

With Linux, I can change my system’s desktop and use it in either English or Spanish at log-in time. Each user can use their native language with their preferred desktop. In a multi-language household, this is a nice feature. You have to purchase Ultimate versions of Windows Vista or Windows 7 to have that capability and with those systems you can’t configure your desktop presentation

The new challenge I have given myself is to get the openSUSE 11.2 Linux system to the point that I only boot into Windows Vista to do something I can’t do with Linux. I have a relatively small list of problems to solve.

The KDE desktop is very similar to Windows 7 and Linux had that look first. The new KDE 4.3 as implemented by openSUSE is clean and elegant. I like the new Plasma effects. It still blows me away to see how much Linux is improving with each new release.

There are still some of the items I that prevent my Using Linux full time. The first is a video messenger. I use Skype and MSN Messenger with video to talk to family in Costa Rica and the US. When I get Skype running in the new Linux system, my top priority will be solved.

The second thing, I use sometimes, is Windows Movie Maker. If I can find a Linux replacement, then I will be happy.

My installation of openSUSE on my primary system has not been completely transparent. Before the Windows boot manager asked if I wanted Windows 7 or Windows Vista. Now my Linux Boot manager gives me the options of openSUSE or Windows. If I select Windows, the Windows menu comes up with the option of Windows 7, which no longer exists, and Windows Vista.

That is no big problem, but I don’t like sloppy installations and a messed up boot menu is sloppy. OpenSUSE 11.2 runs so much faster than Windows Vista and Windows 7.

If you want to try openSUSE, you can download and burn a live CD. Then you can see how it would look on your PC without installing it. If you want to see the difference between Gnome and KDE, you can burn both live CDs.

I will mention that openSUSE does not do as good a job as other Linux distributions in a couple areas. Specifically with sound codecs and special video drivers. Linux Mint does a much better job, but it still isn’t out with KDE 4.3.

With openSUSE you have to install the video drivers and the sound codecs yourself and that can be a little daunting if you don’t know how to do it. I really wish that openSUSE would allow the user to accept the license restrictions for those two areas and make them easier to install. Still I think the distribution is worth the trouble.

UPDATE: Skype is no longer an issue. I installed it and it works like a charm. Now I just need to get my email address moved and my calendar moved and Vista will be relegated to the status of a backup system.

14 thoughts on “Replacing Windows 7 with openSUSE 11.2

  1. Don:
    I am use skype video on Mac OSX . It works fine. Since mac is a unix based system I wonder why it is a problem on linux. It doesn’t aeem to matter what system is on the other end.

  2. Skype is not a problem on Linux. I just haven’t installed it and configured it to work on my 64-bit installation. I don’t expect it to be much of a problem, I just need the time to do it.

    By the way, I am responding from Linux at the moment. I am in the process of getting my email accounts working under Kontact.

  3. Hi: You are giving me a headache and I appreciate it. I am not that computer literate as, in school, there was nothing available to us in our “District”. We were still using erasers for the blackboards. If it wasn’t for my brother, I would not even have a computer. I just can’t keep up with all this technology but in reading all your information, I now know how far behind I am. Would you believe that some of our relatives don’t even have a computer? If it wasn’t for the availability, I would’t be able to pay our bills in the US and not be able to rely on your information for Panama. Keep up the information and maybe I will learn something. Feel better soon as I missed your comments/info on the computer for a few days.

  4. Hi Charlotte. Not a whole lot of people have told me that I have given them a headache. I have been told I was a pain in the A**, but that is a different story.

    As of today, I will try to use the new system as my primary system. I now have all of my files duplicated in both systems, so I can revert to Windows Vista if I have the need to do that.

    However, for my needs, Linux just works better. I now have SKYPE installed and functioning. I have only a few small tasks to do, but I can take my time with them. The boot menu can wait, since I boot into Linux as my primary system.

  5. Don, I confess, this is the first post of yours in which I did not understand the bulk of it. I know that Linux is an alternative operating system to Mac and Windows because it’s “open”, which I understand to mean that it can be tinkered with, if you’re a programmer and are inclined to tinker.

    … I take it that Gnome, KDE, and OpenSUSE are different versions of Linux? Your comment that OpenSUSE is much faster than Vista and Windows is interesting, but for the ordinary layperson using a laptop, how practical is it to have an “exotic” OS if you will? Put another way, is OpenSUSE a hands-off, worry-free system that someone like me (kind of a techno-peasant, if you will) could use and not have to worry about tinkering with it?

    … And finally, what is meant by 32 bit and 64 bit, and why/how does it matter to ordinary laptop owners like myself? (Well, for full disclosure, I’ve got a Mac G4 desktop which I use occasionally to fiddle around with photos…)

  6. Let me steal a bit of Don Ray’s thunder. Linux is the kernel, or engine, of many distributions. Differences in various distributions are mostly in the look and feel and specifications of some of the applications. The big boys are Ubuntu, OpenSUSE, Red Hat, and Mandriva. There are many dozens more, all driven by the Linux kernel. Gnome and KDE are the user interfaces (UI) that are most popular, and most major versions can use either or both. There are also dozens of user interfaces. The most popular Linux distribution at the moment is Ubuntu with the Gnome UI. All major open distributions are available for free download and can be run from a CD, so it is not necessary to change anything on your computer to try Linux.

    I have been experimenting with Ubuntu Netbook Remix, which is a version of Ubuntu designed for Netbooks. I have it installed on my Acer One netbook, and on a low-cost Intel Atom desktop. It is probably as close to a hands-off, worry-free system as you can get in today’s computer world.

    For anyone who does not feel comfortable with backing up a hard drive, formatting, and clean installing Windows, I would not recommend attempting a self-taught switch to Linux. If you know someone with the skills to set up a computer for you with Linux and are willing to unlearn some bad habits and learn some new and better ones, Linux can free you from most of the annoyances of dealing with the Windows world.


  7. Hi Tambopaxi, Henry is really the Linux expert in this conversation. Compared to Henry, I am really a hacker. I have been using Linux a lot for the last three or so years and played with it since 2000. The changes in Linux since 2000 are fantastic, but it still is not as hands free as Apple and OSX.

    However, Apple has really turned me off with its overgrown ego. If my primary PC was an Apple running OSX, it would have cost me $4000. Running Windows Vista and openSuSE 11.2, it has cost me less than $900 with 9 GB of memory, 3.64 terabytes of HD and a 2.66 Intel i7 quad processor.

    All of the major security centers have written that Windows Vista and Windows 7 are more secure than Apple, but that is currently one of Apples big selling catch phrases.

    The Open Source community has made many advances in the last few years, primarily due to UBUBTU leading the way. However, as Henry said, there are several big players and one minor player that is gaining recognition.

    If a person wants to burn a Live CD and just try Linux, the distribution I would download and burn would be Linux Mint. It pre-installs the restricted drivers and is a very clean desktop.

    As I dig myself our from my current migration tasks, I will try to post a little on my experiences.

    Henry, I have been reading several nice reports of openSuSE 11.2 running on your type of netbook. Why don’t you give it a try and let me know what you think. With your recommendation, I might trade out my ASUS eee for a larger netbook.

  8. I downloaded it last night. It will require a bit of finagling to install it on the Acer (no optical drive), but I’ll let you know how it goes.


  9. Henry, Don,

    Thanks much for the info (I understood about 2/3’s of it!). I’ve got an ordinary Toshiba with 400gb hdd and 3gb memory and 2.10ghz dual processor. I’ve also got a Mac G4 tower with a big screen on which I’ve got photoshop. Don, out of curiosity, what do you do that you need such enormous memory capacities?

  10. HiTambopaxi. Unless uou have over 4 gig of menory then a 32 bit system will probably do as well as a 64 and it removes some problems you can run into because some applications are not written for 64-bit. I would not convert any PC that is using photoshop unless I was willing to learn GIMP, which I use for my photos. My editing is pretty simple though and if it were not for watermarking my photos, I could use a lessor application.

    I filled my memory slots because the PC has three way memory and the three way memory will only work ig populated in certain fashions. The PC had removable drives and I thought I would get some extra drives for alternate OSs as well as backup.

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