Opensuse Li-f-e 42.1 linux for education — a review

I saw the announcement for Li-f-e 42.1 on Monday.  Before long, I was downloading it so that I could take a look.  I have been reviewing “Li-f-e” releases since that for opensuse 12.3.  Search for “li-f-e” in the search box to find those earlier reviews.

Download and install

I picked one of the download sites from the announcement, and fired up “aria2c” for the download.  I also used “wget” to download the md5 checksum file.  After the download completed, I use the “md5sum” command to verify the download.

I’ll note that, after the “aria2c” download, there was no “.meta4” file.  So apparently the download site was not setup for meta-downloads.  However, “aria2c” handled that gracefully, presumably dropping back to a plain file download (similar to what “wget” does).

The downloaded iso came in at a little less than 4G.  So I wrote it to a 4G USB flash drive (using “dd_rescue”).  That may have been a mistake.  I should have used a larger flash drive.  When booted from a USB drive, the image uses the remainder of the USB device for persistent storage (for saving changed data values).  While running from the USB, I saw messages about it running short of space in the home directory.

Well, never mind.  I was able to install in spite of those messages.  I clicked the “install” icon on the desktop (the “folder view” window), and before long I was installing.

The install itself went quite smoothly.  Typically of installing from live media, the installer mostly had to copy the running system image to the hard drive partitions.  There was the usual partitioning screen, where I decided where to install.  And then there was a screen to set the user name and password.  I also had to set the timezone.  And there was an option to configure booting parameter if needed (I changed the timout to 15 seconds).

The install was reasonably fast.  Soon I had rebooted into the newly installed system.  I did notice that the user I created had a UID of 1006.  I am used to it being 1000, so I changed it to that and rebooted before I made much use of the system.

I installed to a UEFI box.  It is a box where secure-boot worked with 42.1.  I did not test boot on the box where 42.1 secure-boot failed.  If you want to install, I suggest disabling secure-boot, running updates, then run “shim-install” before turning on secure-boot.

What’s in li-f-e 42.1?

The system, as installed (or as running live) contains KDE (Plasma 5), Gnome 16.1 and Mate.  It initially boots into Plasma 5, using the “sddm” login manager.  Both “gdm” and “lightdm” are installed, so you could switch to either of those if you prefer them to “sddm”.  And “kdm” is in the repos, so you could install that and switch to it, if you prefer.

The login menu allows login to Gnome, Gnome Classic, KDE Plasma 5, MATE, Icewm and twm.  Of those, I have tried all but the Gnome logins (plain and classic).  They all seem to work pretty well, though “twm” is primitive compared to most modern desktops.

I’m mainly a KDE person.  But I did like the MATE desktop.  It seems considerably improved from what was available with the li-f-e 13.2

As you would expect from the name, there is some educational software included.  I briefly tested several of them, but I would need to learn how to use them before I could adequately comment.  The “Stellarium” software is included, and I tested that since I have used it before.  It works pretty well.  I live in a suburb with lots of light pollution, so I can get a better view of the stars with “stellarium” than by just looking at the sky.

Multimedia software is included.  The system comes with the packman repo configured, and with pre-installed software and codecs from packman.


The standard repos are configured, as is the packman repo.  And the opensuse Education repo is also configure.  So most of the software that is preinstalled can be updated.  There is an update applet which seems to work reasonably well.


I’m inclined to say that this is the best li-f-e version that I have reviewed.  If you prefer to install opensuse from live media, then you might want to use this instead of the standard install DVD.  And the fact that it will already have the multimedia software from packman is an additional benefit from installing this way.


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About Neil Rickert

Mathematician and computer scientist who dabbles in cognitive science.

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