OpenSUSE Leap 42.2 RC1 — a review

I’m a tad slow reporting this.

Release candidate 1 (or RC1) for 42.2 was announced on Tuesday.  I downloaded the DVD installer, and proceeded to install on three computers.

For the most part, everything went well.  I noticed a couple of cosmetic issues.  And Plasma 5 still won’t run under “nouveau” (with a Nvidia card).  But at least there is a good workaround for that.  I’ll discuss these in more detail below.

Versions

Gnome shows as version 3.20.2.  To find that, I logged into Gnome, right-clicked on the desktop and selected “Settings”.  On the window that showed up, I clicked “Details” to find the version.

KDE comes in as Plasma 5.8.1, with KDE Frameworks 5.26.0.  And the QT version is 5.6.1.  To find those, I logged into KDE, and opened “Info Center”.

The kernel version is 4.4.24-1, which can also be seen in the Info Center output or by using “uname -a” at a command line.

Installing

The install itself was without any problem.  I followed my typical method.

I wrote the downloaded iso file to a USB flash drive.  To install, I booted with the USB plugged in.  All of my current computers support F12 for selecting a boot option during boot.  So, while booting, I pounded F12.  When the menu came up, I selected booting from the USB.

At the partitioning stages of install, I ignored the suggested partitioning and instead selected “Create partitioning”.  On the next screen, I selected “Custom partitioning”.  And, on the next screen, I clicked on “Import mount points”.  That allowed me to select which of my current linux installs I wanted to overwrite with the new install.  I chose to replace opensuse 13.2 for the first of my three installs.  And I chose to replace the Beta3 install on my other installs.

After completing the partitioning section, I was prompted for the timezone settings.  Here, I selected “US/Chicago” as the time zone.  And I set it to use UTC for the hardware clock setting.  On two of my computers, that went a little wrong.  The newly installed system was setup properly, but the hardware clock was set 5 hours off.  This was fixed on the first boot.  The two computers that went wrong were the ones where Windows is installed.  The installer set the hardware clock to local time instead of the UTC.  On the computer without Windows, the installer got it right.

For users, I set it to import users from an existing system.  Apparently, it uses the newest (most recently used) of the existing systems.  I was not previously aware of the algorithm, which I discovered in the discussion of bug 1003616.  Knowing that, I first booted the system from which I wanted information to be taken — I did that before starting the install.

And on to software selection.

Software

For the beta releases, I followed my usual practice.  But, for RC1, I rethought that.  So I selected to install KDE, Gnome and XFCE.  I skipped LXDE, which I had previously been in the habit of installing.  I also installed fvwm2 as an alternative simple desktop.

After the install was complete, I opened Yast Software Management, and installed MATE and LXQT.  Those desktops are not on the DVD installer, but they are in the online repo for adding later.  On preliminary testing, they look like good desktops to play with.  I expect to continue using KDE as my main desktop.

Cosmetic issues

I ran into two issues that I am characterizing as cosmetic.

The first of these was that, during the install, “Beta” showed up on a couple of screens.  That should not happen in a release candidate.  One place was in the plymouth screens during boot.  I don’t recall the other place where I saw the “Beta”.

The other cosmetic issue is reported as bug 1006200.  Toward the end of the install, after all the packages had been installed, the installer seemed say that it was downloading “kaddressbook5” once again.  Based on the bug discussion, it looks as if it was really downloading the metadata for the online repos, but somehow it gave a wrong message.

Nouveau

My first install was to a system with Nvidia graphics (an older 6150LE card).  By default, that uses the nouveau driver.  With Beta3, that did not work.  With RC1, it still does not work.  Plasmashell crashes.

It turns out that there is a workaround available.  I learned about that workaround in the discussion for bug 1003402.

The trick is to set LIBGL_ALWAYS_SOFTWARE=1 in the environment.  That cause the libraries to emulate OpenGL in software instead of using the hardware acceleration on the video card.  And that seems to work.

I set that variable in my shell startup files.  I’m a “csh” user, so I added the line

setenv LIBGL_ALWAYS_SOFTWARE 1

to my “.login” file.  A “bash” user could, instead, add

export LIBGL_ALWAYS_SOFTWARE=1

to either “.bashrc” or “.profile”.

With that environment setting, KDE comes up cleanly and seems to run well.

I still see one problem.  When the monitor goes to power savings mode, sometime the cursor disappears and does not return.  That seems to be a nouveau issue with at least some Nvidia cards.  I avoid that problem by setting the KDE power manager to never go to power savings mode.  Strangely, “fvwm” seems to work, and to shutdown the monitor on idle, without ever losing the cursor.

Summary

Leap 42.2 is looking good, except for a couple of minor issues mentioned above, or issues where there is a workaround (as with nouveau).  We are now less than a month from the expected final release.  I am expecting 42.2 to be a good experience.

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About Neil Rickert

Retired mathematician and computer scientist who dabbles in cognitive science.

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  1. OpenSUSE Leap 42.2 RC2 | Thoughts on computing - 2016/11/03

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