It’s always a bit exciting to get a new openSUSE release to play with. It’s one of the oldest and most established distributions in the Linux world. The sleek looking “Geeko” chameleon has been a long time favorite with Linux users looking for a more hands on experience. It presents the user with more settings and options than the average Linux distribution.
openSUSE comes in two main versions: a rolling release based version called Tumbleweed and a release cycle based version called Leap. Today, we’re looking at the freshly released Leap 15.2. Leap tends to take a more conservative approach so don’t expect the latest and greatest in software and drivers. It is powered by Linux kernel 5.3.18. As a comparison, Ubuntu 20.04 LTS released in April already comes with 5.4 and the latest stable kernel at writing is 5.7.7. Still, it’s a vast upgrade over kernel 4.12 of previous Leap 15.1.
There are two default desktop environments to choose from: Gnome and KDE Plasma. I downloaded the KDE version and flashed it onto a USB stick.
Boot time was quite long, even for a USB drive. The splash screen simply says “Leap” and the system vendor logo is also present.
Once booted the system used around 586MB of RAM, very frugal! KDE Plasma never ceases to amaze me in that respect. On the down side, however, the System Monitor registered endless 100% system load spikes. On closer examination, they seem to originate from the System Monitor app itself.
To connect to a WiFi network for the first time, the system prompts us to create a KDE Wallet were all passwords will get stored. There are two different encryption options and I can’t help but feel a new user could feel a bit overwhelmed. Adjusting the Time & Date settings in YaST can also be a bit daunting. To correctly fetch the time from the internet, I had to synchronize with a NTP server. There were over 30 to choose from and some didn’t work. Now at least I know what NTP stands for: Network Time Protocol. It’s from 1985 and one of the oldest protocols still in use! Without going into too much detail, it’s used to synchronize participating computers to within a few milliseconds of UTC time.
Next thing to do: Scale up the monitor to 125%. That worked very well from the system settings. A log-out and renewed log-in was required to take effect of the change. Works even in a live session.I was hoping for a bit more personality in the theming department. The whole appearance comes in shades of grey with blue accents and the only green that reminds us of openSUSE is on the wall paper. Feels like any other Plasma desktop. Not a bad thing but a bit more spice wouldn’t have hurt. I tried a few Plasma Styles from the System Settings and as a result the Geeko menu icon was lost and couldn’t be restored. In it’s place I got the standard KDE icon. To make it a bit more chameleon like, there is one light green and two dark green themes to choose from. Other icon sets can be also downloaded right within the settings’ menu and I quickly found a theme that gave me green folders to round up the jungle vibe.
As both neofetch and htop were absent, I proceeded to install them through openSUSE’s YaST2 software manager. Installing neofetch, a 829KB download took 03:29 and sent the CPU load of all 4 cores to 100%! htop fared better at only 20 seconds but still quite long for a simple command. The CPU load shot up again, see photo below.
The whole system was quite unresponsive. Even taking a screen shot and saving it took for ever. I will cut my review a bit short. To be fair, I am running it form a USB thumb drive. For a proper assessment , a full install onto the hard disk would be necessary. I cannot do full installs at the moment due to lack of available disk space.
I rebooted to see if things got better and to my surprise, all my settings had been retained. It appears the “Live” image is set-up to be fully persistent. I also had a quick look at the Gnome version. It was overall more responsive and didn’t exhibit the CPU spikes of the KDE version. Still, installing htop and neofetch, even from the command line, took longer than expected. htop showed that it was using 656MB in idle, a very good result for a Gnome based desktop. I was also quite pleased by the fact that no office suite was included by default, keeping the ISOs below 1 GB in size.
I will leave it at that for now. Personally, openSUSE isn’t for me. As powerful as YaST is, it is literally all over the place cluttering the Gnome menu with separate icons for each settings’ option. I can see it’s appeal for the tinkerers who want to have full control over every aspect of the system. After all, as their website says, this is an enterprise grade distribution geared to the professional user.
What is your take on openSUSE’s Leap distro? Leave us some insight in the comments below!