After being a long-time Debian Linux user, I decided to give SUSE a try. One of the major selling points of SUSE is the YaST configuration system. It provides a set of wizards for common configuration tasks. Almost every tutorial I can find uses YaST at some point.

Unfortunately, the text version of the utility seems to lack many of the features present in the GUI version. In fact, all of the tutorials I can find (for setting up LDAP services for example) assume that you are using the GUI. The only documented way I can find to use the YaST GUI remotely is forwarding a connection from a minimal X server over SSH.

I was very surprised by this, as such heavy use of GUI tools is much more Windows like than UNIX like.

Are SUSE servers simply designed to be used graphically?

  • There is plenty of red hat documentation that involves system-config-*, doesn't mean you have to use it.
    – jordanm
    Commented Jan 5, 2013 at 20:39
  • 2
    Are you asking about OpenSuSE or about SLES?
    – Nils
    Commented Jan 5, 2013 at 22:15
  • @Nils Ether I suppose, though I've only worked with OpenSuSE thus far.
    – Sean W.
    Commented Jan 5, 2013 at 23:00
  • Some aspects of yast/yast2 are better in SLES - they want to sell this... but in the background - the config-files are the same (although binaries and libraries differ). OpenSuSE and SLES are like Fedora and RedHat - not binary compatible.
    – Nils
    Commented Jan 6, 2013 at 9:10

2 Answers 2


Living in the town (Nuremberg, Germany) where SuSE has its current roots I have a little background-info from some people, who originally worked for SuSE.

The current graphical yast2 (running on X11) has its predecessors of the time when it was usual to just have non-graphical interfaces. That predecessor was yast - which is still there, but does not have as many features now as its graphical follower.

When yast came out - it was a revulutionary approach: A Linux-setup-tool where you could setup almost anything in one place.

Later on it was a management decision (I think in times when ownership of SuSE changed over to Novell) to concentrate developement on the GUI-version.

This is not uncommon - if you compare the curses-system-config-tools from RedHat whith their X11-counterparts - you will also find that the GUI-ones have much more settings.

But as with every other GUI (even Ubuntu) you will discover that even yast2 lacks the full abilities of a plain, direct modification of the config-files.

The SuSE-firewall is a good example for that. Look at what yast2 firewall offers to you, and then have a look at /etc/sysconfig/SuSEFirewall2 - you will see many things there that can not be set using the GUI.

So IMHO - no - SuSE is just the same as every Linux - it just had a longer history for a better single-point-of-administration GUI.


The short answer is yes.

Command-line tools tend to scare away new users and they take longer to learn. I'm sure you've heard the arguments before. The SuSE devs want to make sure that the system is easy enough for people to figure it out as they go, and they build up from that minumum. Debian was leaning in that direction, too, but they didn't go as far because there was a stronger feeling that Linux was for enthusiasts when Debian started.

  • 1
    interesting! Do you @Wutaz consider a Server to be setup by people that are "scared away" by "Command-ine tools"? Imho there is a point to fear such server administrators lack the skill and will cause insecure and poor setups. is GUI for admins is the best use case scenario? Also consider implied insecurity of X applications Commented Jan 6, 2013 at 9:37
  • @humanityANDpeace My thoughts exactly; that's part of why I asked.
    – Sean W.
    Commented Jan 7, 2013 at 1:36
  • [citation requested] Commented Jan 8, 2013 at 20:37

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