Here is another great all purpose Linux distribution with lots of the newest software only a few clicks away. Although things don’t appear to have changed much in recent years there are still some great improvements under the hood. OpenSUSE is known as a reliable distribution with a diverse selection of options making it another great choice for desktops and servers alike. Lighter desktop editions of OpenSUSE might be a better for choice for laptops however. I have already covered OpenSUSE 11.4 KDE for those who are interested, here I will focus on the OpenSUSE Gnome desktop.
The OpenSUSE Gnome interface is quite stylish and fairly easy to navigate. After starting your system you can enter your username and password to log in to the Gnome desktop. Then you will see your desktop icons, the main panel, the desktop menu, a task bar, and of course, your system tray. The Gnome interface is also highly customizable, and all of your options are easy to find. Users switching from Ubuntu will have no problems getting familiar with the interface, although some of the options are arranged a little bit differently.
All of your applications can be launched from the main menu which has a layout similar to the new Linux Mint menu style. There are other tabs available inside your menu where you can find recently used documents or important folders and locations on your system. There is also a search bar inside your start menu that you can use to quickly find applications or other items without having to hunt them down. The panel on the right hand side of your menu holds many important options, here you can install and remove software, logout of your system, or customize almost anything.
All of your panel options can easily be found from the right click pop-up dialog. Just right click on an empty space inside your panel. From the pop-up dialog you can add items to your panel, access your panel properties, or create and delete panels. You might want to add launchers for your favorite applications or choose from a large list of applets already available for you to use. System monitors, weather monitors, or note applets are some of the most popular items. Color and transparency options are available inside the panels properties window.
As mentioned above, you can install new software by looking inside the right hand panel of your main menu and clicking install and remove software, this will open the YaST installation and configuration tool. There are thousands of applications neatly arranged into simple categories that are easier to navigate, or you can use the top bar to search for your favorite applications. The YaST tool can also be used to update your system and add additional repositories. You might also want to try the Zypper package management tool to install applications from the command line.
Nautilus is used as the default file manage in the Gnome edition of OpenSUSE. You can start Nautilus by double clicking on the home folder icon that sits on your desktop, or from the places tab inside your main menu. Although Nautilus is not the fastest file manager available, the compatibility with portable devices and the ability to connect to networks easily makes this another good choice for new users. You can drag new items into the Nautilus places panel to quickly jump to those locations whenever you use Nautilus. Many options are available for you to customize the look of your Nautilus windows also.
Most of your important options can be found inside your main menu on the right hand panel, just click on control center. Inside the control center there are distinct categories arranged for similar options. Click on the appearance button inside the look and feel section to adjust your window themes. There are lots of nice themes available in the appearance preferences window for you to select from. Here you can also customize existing themes, install new ones that you have already downloaded, or click get more online to start hunting for more.
From the appearance preferences window you can also change your desktop wallpapers, just click on the backgrounds tab at the top of the window. There are not many wallpapers by default, but as with other versions of Gnome more can be added with no trouble at all. You can add the ones you have already downloaded, remove existing ones, or get more backgrounds online. Like usual you can stretch, zoom, center, or tile your background, even try solid color backgrounds. And you want to change your window fonts there is a fonts tab at the top of the screen as well.
Back inside the Control center you can find the screensaver options under the look and feel category. The screensaver options window has many excellent screensavers for you to choose from. Pong, Pacman, and GLMatrix are a few of the stylish screensavers already available for you to preview directly from the screensaver preferences window. From here you can also adjust the amount of time it takes before your screensaver becomes active. For improved security it may be a good idea to leave the screen locked while you are away.
The Gnome 2.32 interface is meant to be the last major release in the 2.x series, only maintenance updates will be available in this series with the impending release of Gnome 3. Many applications have new features and there are a lot of bug fixes in this release. Some users reported problems with drivers and hardware immediately after the launch, but things seem to have stabilized nicely in my opinion. If you want to know more about the new server features offered in OpenSUSE 11.4 I will be covering that very soon.