Back in December last year when I wrote the first post in this series this was really a personal exercise in stopping me distro hopping, the idea was to pick a mature, usable, well supported distro which i'd not used in anger and both stick to using the distro and learn some things along the way.
The hope was that the further I got down this path, the more the OS would be behind the scenes, something which just let me get on with work and using the laptop.
*Remember when reading this these are my personal opinions which mainly come from 20 years of hands on Linux experience not suggestion, here say or third party input. I’m not asking you to agree with me in any shape or form, I'm writing this as a personal journey not as an effort to start a flame war over which distro, desktop or package management tool is the best. This is just one guys journey not a personal a affront against your beliefs
Also I know I can't spell and my grammer is terrible, you don't need to tell me.*
As such the first post this year was all about setting up my environment, which at the time I was coming off the back of several years of using OSX, and while I liked the Dock and general feel of that OS, I didn't go back down the route as I had personal concerns of where Apple were taking it and what they were trying to do.
Post 2 was learning about some of the underlying things Opensuse brings to the table like Yast, Zypper, btrfs and Snapper which helped a lot with the understand of what makes OpenSUSE different from the other big hitter distros like Fedora, Ubuntu, Arch or Centos
This seemed to fit well with the flow of this series, going from installing OpenSUSE and customising it, to learning some of the tools it used.
This post is about just getting on with it. What I've been doing with the OS, the laptop over the last month.
Adding Functionality to OpenSuse
Having got to grip with the tools and the command line last month this month I've been getting my daily drivers and applications working which means getting the Applications I need to use and connectivity back home working.
Doing this means installing several applications which in the most part have been covered by Zypper, Flatpak, Snap or Appimage which has made life decidedly easy having built in support for all these platforms.
Kernel Headers mismatch MagicMouse
This was an interesting situation I've found, on the laptop natively I've got 3 finger swipe left and right to swipe between virtual desktops and I covered how I did in the Jan 2020 post. However having come from a Mac I've got a left over Magic Mouse sitting around.
Although the mouse connected over Bluetooth within seconds none of the touch swipe gestures worked on the mouse, which is interesting because they have on recent versions of Ubuntu.
The missing component seemed to be the linux hid-magicmouse driver of which there is the Robotrovsky main version and a Rohitpid branch on Github which appears to be one a few people have had success with.
Both Git Repos seem to be focused on Ubuntu and both contain good instructions for getting DKMS installed and installing the driver.
However i ran into an issue with the Kernel Header and source which the hid-magicmouse needed.
when i ran
sudo uname -r
I got back that I was running the following Kernel version
However when I tried the commands i've found online to install headers (most related to an annoying vmpware player bug
sudo zypper in kernel-header sudo zypper in kernel-source
It was installing the headers for
Which obviously causes problems
The fix for this was to open YAST -> Software Management
Under Software Management Search for Kernel, find kernel-default-devel and then at the bottom of the Window select Versions and uncheck the offending Kernel Version
sudo zypper in kernel-default-devel
This then installed the correct headers and at that point, I was able to run as directed the setup script i'd cloned from the rohitpid Git repo
What this did however highlight was the problem sometimes with trying to get support for a distro like OpenSUSE, because it isn't constant in the packages names it needs to install when you start getting a bit further under the hood, the support online can also be a bit woolly because some of it goes back years and it's not always easy for a new user i'd suggest to understand the difference between the Tumbleweed and Leap as in what's supported on both, whats Tumbleweed specific.
In this case I'll be honest I'm not sure if this is a problem with my install or a bug with Tumbleweed.
Either way this installed the driver hid-magicmouse and I was able to use the touch gestures to a point. the scroll wheel style gesture works. I'm not 100% sure yet if i can ge things like left and right swipes working on the mouse, that is for next month.
At the start of the month I was doing a lot of reading about Wireguard, the hot new VPN which is being embedded into the Kernel and Linux himself seems to love.
Like most my Home VPN connection has been OpenVPN for years, i run it as a Podman/Docker container and it just works, 2FA using Google Authentication and my mobiles, laptops whatever connect home using it. It just works.
Being an obvious tinkerer I was interested in getting Wireguard setup for home use, and I've documented how I do that here
The OpenSUSE end of the setup was pretty easy as its documented on the Wireguard install page
sudo zypper addrepo -f obs://network:vpn:wireguard wireguard sudo zypper in wireguard-kmp-default wireguard-tools sudo zypper in NetworkManager-wireguard
This, as my Wireguard blog shows, is then just a case of getting Wireguard setup with Keys and use the NetworkManager Gui to add the new VPN Connection.
I've had the VPN working on Android Mobile and OpenSUSE on a recent long weekend at an AirBNB in St. Ives and it's shown no issues. The one time I have seen an issue was on the Office Open Wifi where it became apparent that there was some split tunneling happening and the local network was using Cisco DNS and blocked access to my network server.
Generally speaking however i've found Wireguard from a usability point of view really quick, does what it says on the tin, and easy to manage.
Working with Applications
This post is all about just getting on with it, doing those day to day tasks in OpenSUSE yo'de expect to do on any OS, the ability to pick up the laptop and know I can jsut get on with it.
Using Linux like this, let alone OpenSUSE has changed a lot since the days I first picked up a Red Hat 5 CD in a Bangkok market. Having been through a huge amount fo pain over the years since making the decision to not use Windows if at all possible, its amazingly refreshing to feel comfortable using OpenSUSE as my daily driver and not have problems with it.
These are a few of the Applications I've been using over the last month
Finding useful Apps
Yeah, i'm the one, just as I have always had a soft spot for the green Chameleon, i've got one for Opera, as a browser I love it. Unfortunatly i've had noting but on going page crasheds with the Opera installed from the OpenSUSE Packman repos. (Version 67)
The feature I really love is the Flow option, as I can use this between my Android phone and Desktop when I find something I'm reading on the train into work, i can use the "Flow" feature to have the page available on my Desktop Opera browser as well. Sure I could use Pocket or Instapaper like took, i do like the way this is built into both browsers though.
The Beta version of release 68 seems to be a bit more stable.
Up until recently i've been using Kdenlive to edit videos, a recent ChromeUnboxed areticle on using Flatpaks and Shotcut as an example made me have a look and its really nice as a video editing system. While I've yet to hit it with any major editing the fact i can run this on my Chromebook and Opensuse Laptop really appeals to me.
KDE's default file manager Dolphin has a huge number of tricks up its sleave and is far superior to Windows Explorer or Apples Finder.
With its built in support for most of the remote connectivity options like SFTP, FTP, SAMBA, NFS its quck and easy to add links to remote servers in the sidebar. This lets me transversa all over my home network from this sinlge app instead of using Filezilla, Dolphin and whatever other apps I need.
The 2 pane view isn't enabled by default, however the pletora of options in this application mean its just a few clicks away
Adding the size of a file next to the file name is also a nice little touch achived under View > Additional Information > Size
While i tend to have my terminal open on a virtual display all the time, it's a nice feature of Dolphin to be able to show a termainal as part of the browser which navigates to the location you're in by heading to View > Panels > Terminal
I'm also a fan of the ability as can be done in Windows Explorer of not relying on the breadcrumb style toolbar but to type in my own desired location in the toolbar on Dolphin which is enabled under View > Location Bar > Editable Location Bar
Dolphin is truely a powerful File Manager and the core of managing files on KDE however something really useful I found that Dolphin could do is manage Git Repositories, under Settings -> Configure Dolphin -> Services add the Git Service
This will ask you to restart Dolphin and once done if you navigate to a git managed folder and right click you'll see a whole heap of git commands you can use to manage the repo
A really useful feature and sure you can do all this from the command line, it's nice to see integrated into a file manager as well.
Problems this month
Each month isn't without it's smattering of issues, and this one has ahad a few woth mentioning
While not a show stopper, i seem to get Tumbleweed updates which cause the Graphics card on my Dell XPS 13 to glitch out, and it's not enough to be a pain, however it is enough to annoy OCD me. I'll spend some time this month if there is anything i can change to get this working. The support for the laptop has been great other than this.
So about a week ago I had a large number fo Tumbleweed updates 400+ and i set about the usual
sudo zypper dup
This time however I got the Zypper system not rolling out its update procedure, I got instead the Zypper system recommending methods of solving problems, and after about 20 odd recommendations it was obvious there was a problem.
What had I "tweaked"? Thankfully it turns out its not me and there is at the time of writing this post a pinned reddit post in the OpenSUSE Subreddit.
It has been a long road, but we have reached the destination: Python 3.8 has been checked in to Factory after the Staging was finally passed. We spent two more days working out a bunch of non-ring failures as well, trying to make the switch as smooth as possible - and openQA agrees with us: openSUSE Tumbleweed - Snapshot 20200309 will contain python 3.8 and is currently in progress of being synced out to the mirrors.
As this is a major jump, I'm (unfortunately) almost sure the update won't reach you without you noticing it. There is potential for many packages not being rebuilt (or rather, having failed to rebuild) - and, depending on what you have installed, zypper dup might ask you to eliminate some packages that are no longer compatible (could be also coming from 3rd party repos, that did not yet rebuild against python 3.8)
So, please be careful with your next zypper dup and if there are breakages happening, feel free to file bugs.
Dimstar / Dominique
The long and the short is the Python system has been updated to python 3.8 and the applications using Python needed to be rebuilt and added to the repository to catch up. This all took about 3 days.
Again however it's a good and bad example of the Opensuse support system, because while it is great that the OpenSUSE Subreddit is pinning posts like this, there was nothing obvious for a new user on the OpenSUSE forums, and it must have been know as a major uplift AND was going to break things.
Files not deleting from /tmp or /var/tmp
While i'm not short on disk space I noticed this month that the /tmp and /var/tmp directories were not emptying on reboot as i'd expect them to do. Did a bit of digging on this one and seems the system.d option for cleaning this out either isn't added or installed by default.
This was fixed by editing
# Empty /tmp folder on boot D! /tmp 1777 root root 0 # Remove files in /var/tmp older than 7 days D /var/tmp 1777 root root 7d
There is (again) a Reddit post on the OpenSUSE subreddit for reference.
But Author, this isn't very OpenSUSE Specific..
I've had a few of the Reddit faithfull tell me that my posts are not OpenSUSE posts they are just Linux posts. While that may be accurate the point of me documenting this is to show that OpenSUSE is a usable daily driver distro made up of OpenSUSE tools and general Linux tools.
I'm trying to show that most things work, there are problems and places to find solutions, However as a daily usable distro for doing work on it's a solid platform and has support for most things.