Opensuse live KDE factory snapshot 20140820

Most of my installs have been with the DVD image.  I decided it was time to try out the live KDE image.

I mainly wanted to test out the new NetworkManager applet for KDE, and for a good test I needed to do that on my laptop.  I had previously been using factory snapshots on desktop machines rather than laptops, so with an ethernet connection rather than WiFi.

Downloading

It was easy enough to download the image.  I looked in the download directory to see what was there, and then copied the link for the 64-bit KDE live image.  I used “aria2c” to download the iso.  Then I downloaded the sha256 checksum (I just appended “.sha256” to the link I had copied).  I used the checksum to verify that I had a good download.  I would have preferred a gpg signature, but we make do with whatever is available.

Next, I wrote that iso file to a USB.  The USB device shows up as “/dev/sdd”, so I used the command:

# dd_rescue openSUSE-Factory-KDE-Live-x86_64-Snapshot20140820-Media.iso /dev/sdd

to create the live USB.

Booting the live system

The next step was to boot my laptop to the live image.  The laptop is a Dell Inspiron, which uses F12 to access a boot menu.  I plugged in the USB flash drive, and powered on the computer.  Then I repeatedly hit the F12 key during the bootup.  As expected, that gave me a boot menu.  I selected the USB device for booting.

That gave me an opensuse boot menu.  I hit “Enter” to continue to boot into the live system.

Booting the live image is slow, partly because flash drives are slow and partly because the live image is compressed so needs to be uncompressed on the fly.  The first boot of a live USB is particularly slow, because a “hybrid” file system is created and formatted during that first boot.  The “hybrid” file system provides persistent storage to save any changes made to the running live system.

Apart from the slowness, all went fine.  There was no “plymouth” graphic splash screen while booting the USB.

NetworkManager

Since my primary aim was to test NetworkManager, one of my first steps was to connect to the home WiFi network.  I clicked on the NetworkManager icon in the tray.  That showed a list of available networks.  I clicked the home network (identified by its SSID).  A window popped up asking for the network key, which I typed in.

Next, there was a prompt for KDEWallet.  This part is always an annoying interruption.  I went through the steps to setup KDEWallet, using a blank password.  There isn’t a lot of point in using a complex password for running a live system which won’t be used for activities such as banking.

Soon I was connected.  But I wanted to tweak the connection details.  So I again clicked on the NetworkManager icon in the tray.  It was not completely obvious how to change settings.  But there was an image of a tool (a wrench) near the top right.  I clicked that.  A settings window popped up.  I selected the home wifi network and clicked “Edit”.  That took me to options for this connection.

I set the connection to be shared with other users.  That’s the equivalent of what used to be called a “system connection”.  The main value of this, is that the WiFi connection will be setup on boot before there is any user login.  So no more worries about KDEWallet for this connection.

While in the settings window, I also checked the IPv6 settings.  I turned on the privacy extensions option, and told it to prefer the temporary IPv6 address.

Finally, I saved the results.  One nice thing about setting up WiFi on a live system, is that I am not prompted for the root password.  Presumably this is because the root account on the live system has no password (or has a blank/empty password).

The NetworkManager settings seem reasonably easy to navigate.  In earlier versions, there was an option to tell NetworkManager to save information in unencrypted files.  There’s no such option now.  They will always be saved in KDEWallet, unless it is a system connection (a connection shared with other users), or unless KDEWallet is disabled.

Rebooting

Next I rebooted.  And the network was already setup by the time the desktop was available.  This is because the NetworkManager settings had been saved in persistent storage (i.e. in the “hybrid” partition).

At this stage, I decided to try an install from the running live image.

Installing

I previously reported on installing from a live image, back in March.  That was not a happy experience.  It started off well, but failed in the final stages of install following the reboot.  So I was uncertain whether this install would work.  However, there had been some positive comments on the factory mailing list, so it was worth the try.

I chose to install on an external drive.  So I now plugged that into a USB port.  Then I clicked the “Install” icon on the desktop.

The install itself went reasonably smoothly.  At the partitioning section, the installer proposed using “btrfs”.  This presented a lengthy list of proposed subvolumes.  I preferred to stay with “ext4” for this test install.  So I selected the option “Create partitioning”.  On the next screen, I selected the option “Expert partitioner.”  That presented a list of existing disks and file systems.  From there, I could choose what partitions I wanted on my external drive.

Following the partitioning, I checked the proposed booting.  The defaults were pretty good, though I turned off the option to probe for foreign operating systems.

The install continued smoothly, and fairly quickly, until the time the system was ready to reboot.

Following the reboot, I saw the same (or similar) error screen as I had seen back in March.  It warned that there was something missing (the software for the final steps of install following the reboot).  I clicked the “Quit” button to ignore the error.  And before long, I was up and running.

So, it is not perfect.  That scary error screen should not be there.  However, at least it works.  Back in March, with Milestone 0, I was left with an unusable system.  So that seems to have been fixed.  The system was quite usable provided that I used “Quit” to ignore the message.

The main problem that I have seen since then, was that the firewall was disabled.  This was easy enough to enable in the Yast security settings.

Oh, and I did not have to setup WiFi again.  The settings that I had saved before, had been copied from the live system into the newly installed system.  And the installed system did have a “Plymouth” splash screen.

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About Neil Rickert

Mathematician and computer scientist who dabbles in cognitive science.

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