As the title says, on my Dell XPS 13, unfortunately its goodbye OpenSUSE this month.
The experience over the last few major updates this month has become, in my environment, hugely slow to the point its causing applications to run terribly. Projects like Teams and Zoom the Video experience has become awful.
While i'm willing to promote and use the distro elsewhere on my homelab, for my daily driver this just isn't good enough.
Maybe I should be using Leap? Yes I probably should, and post Covid when I'm not working from Home I probably will switch over to the more stable version of OpenSUSE however right now i'm running Kubuntu 20.04 and its rock solid.
Please Read this before you comment on Reddit.
There are some comments below that I'm disparaging about the level of support on the community forums, I've had at least one Reddit "comment" stating that I must feel I'm "entitled" to support, and several "remind" me that if I want an answer I should pay for Suse.
Firstly this is a personal journey, not your's, I'm sure for every issue I've had you've had several the opposite and will be determined to cite them, the Internet is designed to tell me why i'm wrong (Cunningham's Law).
Secondly I'm acutely aware that Tumbleweed is a bleeding edge distro, the other posts in this series I've covered that, and if i had the time I'd fix the issues I had and still be using Tumbleweed, unfortunately they were stopping me as a daily driver. As soon as I'm over the WFH restrictions in the UK, i'll be going back to LEap on the desktop.
Finally, this post is not an afront to the OpenSUSE project, read it, I'm still using the distro, I love it.. I think the support could be a lot better, I think the community could be a lot better and I think the documentation could be a lot better. However I've been in tech for 30+ years and can say that of a lot of projects from Microsoft (which I do pay for) to Red Hat (again, I do pay for support for that) its an Industry issue, not an OpenSUSE issue.
Not all bad
This last 6 months has been a great experience for me from the perspective of consistency. Even though I have hopped away from OpenSUSE Tumbleweed, it wasn't a quick decision I persevered with a hobbled system for about 3 weeks. Some highlights of the last 6 months include.
Zypper is by far one of the most powerful package management systems I've used, and when it works, providing options to not break your system is great. It's features while varied are quick and able to understand.
Historically I've been a Gnome user and quite happy with it, I loved KDE3, fell out of love since then. OpenSUSE's implementation of KDE with the bleeding edge Tumbleweed has been a great experience and its proven to me that KDE is the better Desktop Interface for my personal workflow.
Rest of the Homelab
I'm 100% not ditching OpenSUSE, i've got OpenSUSE Leap servers running on Proxmox and Vmware ESX hosting a lot of different servers, all managed using Ansible from Rundeck. This is now my server distro of choice. I've got OpenSUSE Leap Desktop running on my MacBook Pro providing Plex and other home entertainment services.
Indeed this blog is selfhosted on Ghost/OpenSUSE
Things I've learnt
This whole process has been from Day 1 about learning, learning to stick to a distro as far as I can, to learn a new distro, to learn how to do things with that distro..
Stability is key
When you're running any OS as a daily driver stability is key, it doesn't matter what bells and whistles the OS has, how pretty it looks at the end of the day you need it to work, not to crash and to deliver, as boring as it is, a consistent experience.
You need to know that when you turn something on, its going to deliver every time. I left OSX because I personally don't believe Apple are delivering this with each release I see more issues, and unfortunately my choice to use Tumbleweed, has slightly backfired on me.
This is at no level the fault of OpenSUSE Tumbleweed as a distro, and it would be all too easy to go off on a rant about patches, updates, reboots, kernel panics and the like, the simple matter of fact however is Tumbleweed is OpenSUSE's test environment. It was my choice to use it, and unfortunaly over 6 months things just got worse and worse on my implementation of Tumbleweed.
This is possibly due to me being an inherent fiddler and adding/removing lots of software repos, versions and the like.
Support is also another key issue, one i've found with OpenSUSE and my previous blog post in this series I did have a little rant on the level of support for OpenSUSE as it's all over the shop. I've questions untouched on the forum still months later, the telegram channels can be a bit abrasive occasionally and while Reddit has been the most productive of the locations for getting at least pointers its not designed to be a support platform.
One thing Ubuntu as a distro does have right, is its support community, and when googling for howto guides and help setting up servers and software there is plenty of up to date (and out of date) documentation out there.
While OpenSUSE has this, the mix and crossover between OpenSUSE and SUSE muddies the waters somewhat, finding out too late that repos won't work from one to the other is fustrating.
While i'll never become a mecca/hub for support documents, I do at least write up my guides and host them.
There will, if they have got this far, be some purists who will ask "Why Ubuntu?" why go back to Ubuntu? Well the simple fact is, the Dell XPS13 i bought was shipped with Ubuntu, its Hardware certified and it does for all the criticism of it as a distro just work.
I didn't however go for stock Ubuntu, using KDE on OpenSUSE has shown me that the best Desktop Environment for me is KDE, and as such I've installed KUbuntu 20.04.
I was also able to take the theming instructions from the first blog and apply them to the KDE desktop on KUbuntu and provide at least from a Desktop point of view a very like for like experience.
Interestingly out of the box, the one major grip I've had from day one with Tumbleweed, the battery life has gone from 4hrs to 8hrs.
Should you use OpenSUSE Tumbleweed?
100% Yes, yes you should use OpenSUSE if you are looking for a new distro which is mature and works (especially on old Apple hardware) then you're not going to go wrong with Leap, if you have the ability (and the patience) to put up with a lot of updates, some of which stop things working then Tumbleweed is the choice for you.
As a Server OS (an option during the install) its fast, it has a low footprint and using Leap keeps the updates to a minimum.
If you've come from an Ubuntu based distro than you're going to notice that while plenty of desktop apps work, and Snap and Appimage both work really well (at time of writing).
My choice to say goodbye for now is based purely on a Covid19 need to just have what i know in front of me. As soon as this mess is over, i'll be installing Leap..