As probably most of you I have been long using Ubuntu. I'm not an expert, but I have been using different distros until I settled with Ubuntu.

I started using SuSE 5.x, Conectiva (that later became Mandriva, so it seems), RedHat, Mac OS X (yeah, I know, not Linux) and Ubuntu running mostly as a VM in the last couple of years.

But ever since SUSE released the SUSE Studio I was tempted to switch back to it. It is way too convenient to keep your installation in the cloud and download your system ready to go.

Here is my question. What to expect from the switch. I know that SUSE uses RPM as its package manager, and I have no idea of the completeness of its repository compared to Ubuntu.

When trying openSUSE on a VM I also miss the sudo command, but I am sure that it must have been some lack of configuration on my part.

So, what else would be different? My main use for Linux is as a desktop and a bit of Java and Ruby programming.


I have use openSUSE for several years and have dabbled in Ubuntu and other distributions.

What to expect:

  1. Centralised configuration is possible using Yast. You may or may not like this - it seems to generate quite strong opinions in a lot of people but I don't care about it much.

  2. Different desktops which work. The openSUSE DVD includes several desktops, and each one seems to work properly. I have seen people having problems about programs which work in Ubuntu but not in Kubuntu etc. This may be relevant if you are using virtual machines over the could and want a lighter desktop.

  3. sudo works differently (as you seem to have noticed). The most obvious point is that root has a password in openSUSE, and you use that rather than the user password (although the root password is usually the same as the first user). A less obvious point is that the path (or permissions or something?) is not changed to be root's rather than the user's. (If you want to run ifconfig for example you have to su then ifconfig rather than sudo ifconfig.)

  4. There seems to be less stuff in the repositories; but there is everything I want, so I don't know what isn't there. Perhaps there are only 50 text editors rather than 100.

  • if vim is among the 50 text editors I'll be happy ;) – Pablo Aug 11 '10 at 11:18
  • @pablo, vim is a knock-off of vi, which should universally be available on the majority of *nix platforms. You should be fine. – Avery Payne Aug 12 '10 at 1:27
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    For the described "odd" behavior of su: su alone only gives you root privileges, the current environment and PWD stays the same. su - puts you in a fresh environment and into root's home directory. – Eike Aug 30 '10 at 22:21
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    For ifconfig, you can launch it without su simply by adding /usr/sbin to your $PATH – Coren Feb 13 '12 at 7:38
  • You have also this one-click install feature on software.opensuse.org. It's a good alternative to PPA. – Coren Feb 13 '12 at 7:41

The package repositories used by zypper are very complete and there are a number of extra channels you can add easily.

Checkout http://software.opensuse.org for more community built packages and repositories.


SuSE seem to install apps in a different directory structure. When I search online for answers, many good solutions are written for other distros. As long as you know where YAST installs the apps and how it sets up the configuration, it should not be a problem.

I do not use YAST for configuring the apps as it tends to be less optimal than I would like. I like the YAST interface for installing and updating apps.


I love openSUSE, but have recently settled, hopefully temporarily back on Ubuntu as my desktop system. I did personally find openSUSE to be a little more buggy, though that could well be just a matter of bad luck. It also didn't support my webcam (an MS Lifecam) which Ubuntu does, but again, who knows.

sudo can be set up to work however you want, but yes, by default it's a little different. Might be worth taking your config file with you for reference.

In the default setup openSUSE has Novell's "SLAB", their replacement for the standard GNOME menu, but both the standard GNOME menu and the one Ubuntu/Fedora use is available.


While SUSEStudio can be used to build your own distro, if you so choose, I think it has a slightly different end goal.

Novell has more of the notion of building applications, that include an OS and everything ready to go, and are patchable/maintainable.

For example, if you have some application that is reasonably tricky to install on arbitrary Linux variants, it would be pretty straightforward to build a SUSE Studio image, configure your application once, and for anyone wanting to use your application, offer it as an ISO/VM/Appliance style thing. This makes more sense in a commercial space than in the free space, but it does have a place.

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