openSUSE 13.2 Review Supplement: After Installation Fixes and Enhancements

May 1, 2015, 6 p.m.

by ORDINATECHNIC

As usual there are a some details to take care of after installation besides just installing your favorite programs. The first, for laptops is to correct the backlight control issue described below. The other is to add repositories which have the proprietary codecs for multimedia and better sources for the associated applications, and proprietary drivers for hardware. Other minor adjustments may also be necessary, including changing the hostname which will cutomize the command prompt in the shell from the default used in the live environment.

Setting the Hostname

If installing openSUSE using the full DVD ISO installer, the hostname can be set during the installation. If using the live ISO however, the hostname can not be set during installation -- or I haven't come across the method. But it can be changed using the YaSTNetwork Settings module in theNetwork Devices group.

third tab of the bootloader settings
The Hostname/DNS Tab of the Network Settings Module
The hostname and related settings can be changed using this tab of the module. The settings made here will be written to the appropriate configuration files by YaST.

The hostname can also be changed by directly editing the appropriate configuration files. After changing the hostname and grep-ing for the hostname recursively in /etc/, the affected files are:

  • /etc/hostname
  • /etc/HOSTNAME
  • /etc/hosts
  • /etc/postfix/main.cf

If you don't want to use YaST for this change, you can try editing these files.

Backlight Control

As usual on this computer, and as is common in many Linux installations, backlight control does not work, although all methods of controlling the backlight show the OSD of the screen backlight level changing. The fix that works for this particular laptop with an Intel graphics card is described here.

Sleep and Hibernate

Sleep and hibernate work very well in openSUSE with KDE. Suspend working is not a big deal, but hibernate working well is compared to some other distributions. In fact, hibernate works so well, when resuming it even bypasses the GRUB menu and resumes directly to the login screen. In other distributions, even when using their own GRUB, the hibernated OS has to be seleted from the GRUB menu first.

The only quibble is that It does install some unnecessary packages related to suspend which are not necessary when used with KDE; this may be a good thing though if installing other desktops after the initial installation with KDE. These unnecessary items are the suspend and pm-utils packages. suspend provides the tools s2disk which writes the system state to disk during hibernation -- suspend to disk, s2both, s2ram, resume, and swap-offset, while pm-utils provides a user interface to these tools (see this page for a brief description of suspend to disk). Because systemd provides all of the capabilities of the first package and KDE provides the second, and becuse the s2 tools write a visually unpolished and jarring message on the screen during the writing to disk, II uninstalled both packages. This is just a matter of preference.

Additional Repositories for non-OSS Packages

Because openSUSE adheres to the pricniples of Free and Open Source Software, it is not a good out-of-the-box experience in terms of proprietary multimedia codecs and hardware drivers. Fortunately, there is a very good and mature third party repository -- the PackMan repository, which also provides packages for other distributions -- that provides these missing items in a default installation. Not only does it fill in these missing components, but sometimes provides more and newer versions of packages. PackMan for openSUSE is split into the "Essentials" "Multimedia" "Extra" and "Games" groups of packages. These repositories can be added separately or as a single repository that includes all of the packages in these groups in one repository can be added. This page on the openSUSE wiki describes some of the available third party repositories like PackMan, repositories for proprietary drivers and some important openSUSE Build Service repositories and their URLs. For more information on these and other useful repositories this supplement to this review.

For most users adding the PackMan "Essentials" and "Multimedia" repositories is a must to have a good experience in openSUSE. I would even go as far as replacing anything installed by openSUSE by default that is available in the PackaMan repositories with the versions from PackMan. Repositories can be added either in a terminal as root or through the YaST "Software Repositories" module. For more information on these repositories and how to add them see this supplement to this review.

Other Issues

KMix System Tray Applet

The kmix system tray applet exhibited strange behavior when changing the volume by clicking the volume level scale in the applet, which was that a level scale for another device would momentarily appear. The volume did actually change, however, so I dod not investigte this issue further. After upgrading to Plasma 5, however, the version of kmix for Plasma 5 didn't have such issues.

GRUB Booting Arch Microcode Update

The last fix I needed to effect was a change to the GRUB setup. I use openSUSE's GRUB to boot all OSes, primarily because the openSUSE GRUB configuration creates menu entries for booting into the btrfs/snapper snapshots. The specific was necessitated by a change in Arch to a separate initramfs image for Intel microcode corrections, resulting in Arch GRUB entries that tried to load only the microcode initramfs image. See this, for a complete discussion of this issue.

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