Tuesday, January 15, 2013

My openSUSE 12 Journal - 6: Hello 12.2!

More than a year (12+ months) since my last entry... obviously lots have happened... BUT

Its a new year (2013), a new job, a new Laptop and a new openSUSE 12.2!  I'll stop right there before I go off on a tangent, seeing & proclaiming trends where none existed previously.:P

  • openSUSE 12.2 x86_64 (64-bit) - KDE desktop (default)
  • Toshiba Tecra R840 (Intel i5, 4Gb RAM, 320Gb Hdd, Intel HD integrated graphics)
  • Dual-boot with Windows 7 (/dev/sda1) and openSUSE (/dev/sda2)

Smooth as silk is all I can say and something that has come to be expected. :)

Given the dual-boot setup, I created my own disk partitioning scheme.  So this step deviated from the otherwise straight-forward install (ie click next till the end).

Disk partition scheme:
  • /dev/sda1 - 100Gb - original factory installed Windows 7 (size shrunk to 100Gb)
  • /dev/sda2 - 100Gb - root partition of openSUSE 12.2 ('/') formatted to ext4
  • /dev/sda3 - 98Gb - extended partition
  • /dev/sda5 - 6Gb - SWAP partition
  • /dev/sda6 - 92Gb - common data partition formatted to NTFS (read/write for both Win7 & openSUSE 12.2)
At install time, I did not format the common data partition.  Instead, I left it blank (unformatted) and used Windows 7 to format it much later.  Once formatted, this common data partition will be known as D:\ drive on Windows 7.

Reboot into openSUSE 12.2 and use YaST Partitioner to set a mount point.  I usually mount this under /mnt/common.  Now, openSUSE 12.2 will automatically mount the common data partition in /mnt/common on boot.

The only outstanding part is that /mnt/common is accessible by root (super-user) but normal users access is troublesome.  To make /mnt/common read-writeable by normal user, I edit the mount options of /mnt/common in the /etc/fstab file.  Example, changed the options in bold from original (first line below) to the second:

/dev/disk/by-id/ata-xxxxxx-part6 /mnt/common          ntfs-3g    user,users,gid=users,fmask=133,dmask=022,locale=en_US.UTF-8 0 0

/dev/disk/by-id/ata-xxxxxx-part6 /mnt/common          ntfs-3g    uid=han,gid=users,fmask=133,dmask=022,locale=en_US.UTF-8 0 0

where han in uid=han is my normal user account on openSUSE 12.2.

There might be a more user-friendly way to do this but I did not explore since I'm comfortable editing the /etc/fstab. Readers who knows how this can be done, please feel free to leave a comment.  Thanks.

Grub vs Grub2:
I chose to stick with Grub instead of the newer Grub2 boot loader.  The reason is simple, I could easily edit the boot options via /boot/grub/menu.lst because its a text file.  In Grub2, this is non-trivial and until they have an easier editing interface, I'll stick with Grub.

Additional Software

Oracle Java:
Due to licensing of Java now that Oracle is in-charge, openSUSE ships the open source Iced Tea implementation of Java.  However, for software compatibility reasons, I need Oracle Java to be installed on my system including the need to update web browser plugins.

Based on what I read online, its better to leave the Iced Tea Java as-is and not remove it (mainly for LibreOffice and other open sourced software).  We just need to download Oracle Java, install it and use the update-alternatives command to link Oracle Java as the preferred Java.

Will not go into the details here since its already well documented online at http://www.freetechie.com/blog/installing-oracle-sun-java-jrejdk-1-7-update-7-on-opensuse-12-2-x86_64/

I need a video player that can play most codecs and VLC is one of the best.  Installing VLC is a simple two-step process.  First, we add the VLC online software repository into openSUSE 12.2.  The next step is to install VLC.

1)  To add VLC online repository, execute this command:

zypper ar -f -n vlc http://download.videolan.org/pub/vlc/SuSE/12.2 vlc

There is a user-friendlier way to do this via YaST Software Repositories where all you need is to enter the VLC repository URL, http://download.videolan.org/pub/vlc/SuSE/12.2, click Next and you're done.

2) To install vlc, execute this command:

zypper in vlc

There is a user-friendlier way to do this via YaST Software Management where all you need is to search for vlc and click to install.

Packman is another online software repository full of goodies... so full that its sub-divided into the these categories: Essentials, Multimedia, Extra and Games.

For me, I just add the all-in-one repository for convenience:

zypper ar -f -n packman http://packman.inode.at/suse/openSUSE_12.2 packman

For finer granularity, please refer to http://en.opensuse.org/Additional_package_repositories#Packman for details.

Some software I install from the Packman repository are:
  • Audacity
  • Avidemux2
  • smplayer (QT frontend for mplayer)

Chrome web browser:
This one is easy, just point your Firefox (default) web browser to http://www.google.com/chrome.  Once there, Google will detect you are using Linux and will list a number of binaries for you to choose.  For my setup, I choose the 64 bit .rpm (For Fedora/openSUSE) and click Download.

Once downloaded, I use the zypper command (as root) to install it.

zypper in google-chrome-stable_current_x86_64.rpm

Naturally, there is a user-friendlier way to install this RPM file.  Simply click on the rpm file from the Dolphin file browser and keep clicking (Yes, Next, Finish) till its installed.  :)

What's Next?

Stay tuned for my next couple of entries on my continuing adventures using openSUSE 12.2... up next, my experience installing and using IBM Notes Social Edition 9.0beta.


  1. Good luck with your new job! :) Thanks for sharing!

  2. Did you fix the problem with poor (very-slow) usb-writing speed? i have it on all usb-devices when i write large files to them. speed is less 500kb/s. same issue on different machines where openSuSE_12.2 is installed.

    full-speed when i use windows or linux mint....

    it does not depend on the hardware (many test done allways the same)

    ....thanks in advance for reply

    1. Yes, I have observed the same problem. In my case, I was transferring 4Gb of files from local hard disk to my USB drive. The entire system seems only interested in the transfer and nothing else. Only thing that wasn't locked up was my mouse.

      I have not solved it on my system but have a friend & senior Geeko who had got around it. He basically upgraded the base kernel in 12.2 (3.4.11xx) to the 3.6 kernel via tumbleweed. He told me that all 3.4 kernels have this issue with USB and problem is compounded if the hardware has integrated the USB with network and other peripherals (ie Netbooks).

      As for me, I will consider upgrading the kernel if this USB bug bothers me more frequently down the road... which may not be that long way away. :)

      Do let me know if the above helped or if you have found another workaround. Thanks! :)

  3. i upgraded the kernel to 3.8RC2 from the SUSE build-service same issue. then i downloaded the last openSUSE_12.3MS installed it - same issue.

    i will try to post this problem on planet.opensuse.org. there was an old bug-report with the same issue. the problem there was with mounting options in kde3 and udisk.

    i found out, that this problem is only when i use usb-drives. when i use my external usb-harddisk it looks like ok.

    looking forward. thanks for reply from germany....