The Perfect Desktop - OpenSUSE 11.1 (GNOME)

Version 1.0
Author: Falko Timme
Last edited 12/19/2008

This tutorial shows how you can set up an OpenSUSE 11.1 desktop that is a full-fledged replacement for a Windows desktop, i.e. that has all the software that people need to do the things they do on their Windows desktops. The advantages are clear: you get a secure system without DRM restrictions that works even on old hardware, and the best thing is: all software comes free of charge.

I want to say first that this is not the only way of setting up such a system. There are many ways of achieving this goal but this is the way I take. I do not issue any guarantee that this will work for you!


1 Preliminary Note

To fully replace a Windows desktop, I want the OpenSUSE 11.1 desktop to have the following software installed:


  • The GIMP - free software replacement for Adobe Photoshop
  • F-Spot - full-featured personal photo management application for the GNOME desktop
  • Google Picasa - application for organizing and editing digital photos


  • Firefox
  • Opera
  • Flash Player 10
  • Filezilla - multithreaded FTP client
  • Thunderbird - email and news client
  • Evolution - combines e-mail, calendar, address book, and task list management functions
  • aMule - P2P file sharing application
  • Azureus/Vuze - Java Bittorrent client
  • Monsoon - Bittorrent client
  • Pidgin- multi-platform instant messaging client (formerly known as Gaim)
  • Skype
  • Google Earth
  • Xchat IRC - IRC client


  • OpenOffice Writer - replacement for Microsoft Word
  • OpenOffice Calc - replacement for Microsoft Excel
  • Adobe Reader
  • GnuCash - double-entry book-keeping personal finance system, similar to Quicken
  • Scribus - open source desktop publishing (DTP) application

Sound & Video:

  • Amarok - audio player
  • Audacity - free, open source, cross platform digital audio editor
  • Banshee - audio player, can encode/decode various formats and synchronize music with Apple iPods
  • MPlayer - media player (video/audio), supports WMA
  • Rhythmbox Music Player - audio player, similar to Apple's iTunes, with support for iPods
  • gtkPod - software similar to Apple's iTunes, supports iPod, iPod nano, iPod shuffle, iPod photo, and iPod mini
  • XMMS - audio player similar to Winamp
  • dvd::rip - full featured DVD copy program
  • Sound Juicer CD Extractor - CD ripping tool, supports various audio codecs
  • VLC Media Player - media player (video/audio)
  • Helix Player
  • Totem - media player (video/audio)
  • Xine - media player, supports various formats; can play DVDs
  • Brasero - CD/DVD burning program
  • K3B - CD/DVD burning program
  • Multimedia-Codecs


  • Bluefish - text editor, suitable for many programming and markup languages
  • Kompozer - WYSIWYG HTML editor, similar to Macromedia Dreamweaver, but not as feature-rich (yet)
  • Quanta Plus - web development environment, including a WYSIWYG editor


  • VirtualBox - lets you run your old Windows desktop as a virtual machine under your Linux desktop, so you don't have to entirely abandon Windows
  • TrueType fonts
  • Java
  • Read/Write support for NTFS partitions

As you might have noticed, a few applications are redundant, for example there are two CD/DVD burning applications in my list (Brasero, K3B). If you know which one you like best, you obviously don't need to install the other applications, however if you like choice, then of course you can install both. The same goes for music players like Amarok, Banshee, Rhythmbox, XMMS or browsers (Firefox, Opera).

I'm using the OpenSUSE 11.1 GNOME Live-CD in this tutorial to set up the system. You can download it here: (i686) or (x86_64).

I will use the username falko in this tutorial, and I will download all necessary files to falko's desktop which is equivalent to the directory /home/falko/Desktop. If you use another username (which you most probably do ;-)), please replace falko with your own username. So when I use a command like

cd /home/falko/Desktop

you must replace falko.


2 Installing The Base System

Download the OpenSUSE 11.1 GNOME Live-CD iso image, burn it onto a CD, and boot your computer from it:

Select openSUSE Live (GNOME):

Before the live desktop starts, you will see this message. Click on Close to proceed:

This is how the live desktop looks. Click on the Live Installer icon to start the installation:

The installer starts. Select your language and keyboard layout and click on Next:

Select your time zone:

On the partitioning screen, you can either customize the partitioning, or you accept the default partitioning (which is also available as LVM - select LVM Based if you'd like to use the default partitioning with LVM):

Create a user account for yourself. If you check Use this password for system administrator, your user password will also be the root password:

Before the actual installation begins, the installer displays a summary of your settings. If the settings are ok, click on the Install button:

Confirm that you want to begin the installation - the hard drive will be formatted:

An OpenSUSE 11.1 image with default settings is now being copied to the hard drive:

After the instaltion, the installer asks you to reboot the system (without the LiveCD):

To do so, go to Computer > Shutdown:

Select Restart. Before the system boots up again, please remove the LiveCD from the CD drive.

Share this page:

25 Comment(s)

Add comment


From: str0he at: 2009-04-16 22:17:54

Hey Guys!

I have been working with Suse Linux since 1993. At that time the distros still were called according the month they were released. (11/93). OpenSuse 11.1 is the first Linux version that I would install for my mother, knowing that she would not call me all the time to ask me how this or that works ...  ;-)

It has everything you need.

Please use X86_64 if you can. It's so much better/fast.



From: Anonymous at: 2009-04-15 01:05:46

I get so sick of petty little know-it-alls like yourself, quipping over you own preferences and constantly knock the efforts of the Linux community to portray itself as a viable alternative to Windows.  Who cares if you use KDE or Gnome or one of the dozen other user interfaces available for Linux.  This article is about replacing Windows with a better alternative and newbies to Linux don't need to be distracted by your choices. Linux is about choice!  The freedom to build a system that works for you!  Its a great article and one good example of what can be done - for $0. The equivalent in Windows would cost well of $1000.00

From: Anonymous at: 2009-04-12 18:30:19

Don't say that - GNOME is great in my opinion.  It really depends on the person.  Sure, go ahead, show us a KDE Perfect Desktop; it'd be nice for the KDE users.  I personally use GNOME, and I think I'm going to stick with it because KDE is too confusing for me.  You aren't that limited to GNOME - there's ways to manuver around it, such as finding more applications, extentions etc.

Overall, a nice list.  I'll certainly abide to it.

From: easgs at: 2008-12-23 20:25:39

I have created a Multimedia Pack portable for openSUSE 11.1, the included programs and codecs are:

1) VLC
2) Mplayer
3) Smplayer
4) Amarok
6) K9copy
7) Avidemux
8.) ffmpeg
9) w32codec
10) Gstreamer *
11) K3B - K3BCodec
12) Libdvdcss
13) xine - libxine1*
14) Kdvdcreator
15) Winff
16) mjpegtools
17) Acetoneiso

You can install any of the above without internet, they include all the dependencies, just unzip the both files into a folder named MMP2009 and create a repository from that folder as a simple rpm folder in yast, then make a search in the yast installer with the name of the program and check it to install it, this is very important if you don`t have internet at home, and besides, by default openSUSE 11.1 doesn`t include several codecs due to license matters.

I created a blog about the MMP2009 where you can download the pack:



From: Gnu/Linux-freak Holland at: 2009-08-02 11:30:21

 Hi, all

When I startted using Linux, I started with SuSE 7.2. I switched to Feora and then to Slackware, but Suse and later Opensuse always stayed one of my favorites.

When Ubuntu appeared on stage, I didn't get al the fuzz. To me Opensuse still looks like the most userfriendly distro out there. Yes .... The distro I would install at my grandmothers computer (if she had one). 

I'f been using KDE for a long time, but I swiched to Gnome after KDE4. I think I'm not the only one having problems with KDE4. If I was, why did almost every distro offer you an older stable 3.5 version, long after 4.0 was relleased and why is Ubuntu stil more populair then Kubuntu?

I didn't read this entire tutorial, but I always give credits to people taking efford of writting them. There the one's keeping the Linux comunity alife.

He shows a list of software you "could" install on it and shows how to do it. Now everybody can pick his favorite mediaplayer and install it. Withouth people complaining about the fact there favorite is missing.

If you really wan't a tutorial on how to install it with the latest KDE and your favorite mediaplayer ...... You act like you're really smart, so why don't you write one yourself


Ruudje from the Netherlands (die-hard Gnu/Linux and FreeBSD fan)

From: easgs at: 2009-01-22 23:32:25

I am sorry, the multimedia pack portable for openSUSE 11.1 is available at:


this link is for the multimedia pack portable for openSUSE 11.0


From: easgs at: 2009-01-22 18:52:48

The multimedia pack portable for openSUSE 11.1 pre-release is not longer available but you can download the complete current version at:

This is the list of the included programs:

1)  kchmviewer
2)  mplayer, mplayer plugin
3)  audacious
4)  k3b, k3b-codecs
5)  sox
6)  devede
7)  audacity
8)  avidemux, gtk qt
9)  ffmpeg
10) transcode
11) ntfs-config   
12) vlc
13) libdvdcss
14) w32codecs
15) xine, libxine1*
16) xmms, xmms-*
17) dvdShrink
18) k9copy
19) Gtkpod
20) Acetoneiso
21) furiusisomount
22) DVD::RIP
23) Amarok
24) Kaffeine
25) kmplayer
26) Kdvdcreator
27) K3guitune
28) Kino
29) ManDVD   
30) Kguitar
31) Mjpegtools
32) Soundconverter
33) Kdenlive
34) Asunder
35) Brasero
36) Smplayer
37) LMMS
38) Isomaster
39) Mediainfo
40) DVD2Xvid
41) recordMyDesktop
42) Gstreamer*
43) Mixxx, Mixxx-skin*
44) Djplay
45) Ardour
46) Soundreced

You can install any of the programs listed above without internet.


From: Alvis at: 2009-01-10 14:24:33

If you don't like the article, why comment?

I've used these guides several times in the past and even I know that I don't have to install everything listed on them.  They are just suggestions.

From: admin at: 2009-01-07 10:18:01

From the tutorial: "As you might have noticed, a few applications are redundant, for example there are two CD/DVD burning applications in my list (Brasero, K3B). If you know which one you like best, you obviously don't need to install the other applications, however if you like choice, then of course you can install both. The same goes for music players like Amarok, Banshee, Rhythmbox, XMMS or browsers (Firefox, Opera)."

From: 6205 at: 2009-01-07 10:04:21

Another horrible chapter from "The Perfect Desktop" series. Are you serious with posting this BS?

Why did you not installed 100 applications from each category? Perfect setup doen not mean to install every possible app which is on your mind. Instead of that, you should keep simplicity in mind and wisely choose best GTK applications to blend with GNOME..

btw. don't tell me that you need 10+ music players..

From: MyNameIsHmmm at: 2009-02-08 02:28:16

You titled this The Perfect Desktop, but then put Gnome in there?!? Umm, how could it be perfect without KDE as the window manager? I've used KDE for years, and just tried to switch over to Gnome for Evolution's sake, and felt like a one legged man in an ass kicking contest. It was terribly limiting, and mad me very sad, very quickly. Could you perhaps do a how-to to make a REAL Perfect Desktop (KDE 4.2). Thanks. PS I really enjoy your perfect server articles. They are very informative and helped me through the tough spots quite frequently.

From: Anonymous at: 2009-07-30 18:19:26

 Nice thing about being open source is people can choose! If you can complain about not getting an article with a KDE how to; you either have problems with KDE and want an easy step by step fix to get it right, or are so biased by it that your your hatred for everything else allows you to spout off and damage the potential good this does for the open source community by exposing new people to a good alternative to the beast that lives in Redmond.

 This is about making a desktop distro that will replace a Winblows distro and still kick some butt, but be easy enough for grandma to use and maintain. It does that handily on old boxes that won't run XP or Vista at a decent speed. On a newer box it is wicked!

The arguments that keep coming about KDE this or KDE that, just detract from the purpose of making any Linux distro more desirable for the average  Winblows user. For a noob Gnome is more stable. After they gain some experience...sure they change over to KDE if they feel the desire. Maybe someday they may feel like compiling a Gentoo or source based distro from scratch that is bleeding edge. The thing is we have to get them started first! These articles do that.

. Thing is with all the rants it makes it look like any of these How To's may be a little to complicated or not a good choice. As much as these rants come up you have to wonder if these folks work in Redmond and have Gates signing their checks.  These How To's all work fine, my mom is 68 and managed to burn an iso and get up and running with the how to on here about ubuntu after I explained that KDE, Gnome and XFCE are just different Graphical environments to use the system and there were no wrong ones only choices until you find which you like.

Here was someone who upgraded to new boxes and paid out the wazoo for years from DOS and 3.1 to Vista. Now she is retired on limited income, but given an opportunity to stay current and still eat well. One of the reasons she never attempted before was all the in fighting and back biting in forums about which distro or which GUI. The bitching kills the community and requires me to try to explain stuff to her when I'd rather be trying out something new in virtual box or watching youtube. I just figure if any of these articles makes one person switch to open source, it is another knife in the heart of the beast!

From: OsMonitor at: 2010-07-04 08:39:05

Great job! Thanks for sharing.

From: Donald at: 2009-04-30 02:20:40

It is apparent that you really have no idea.  In fact - "brain-dead" indicates that your lack of imagination coupled with your single brain cell is too much of an effort for you.  Just stick to breathing only.  You should turn off that PC and send it back to where you bought it.  I'm sure the return policy has a section "too f**ing dumb".  Even I don't have the heart to swear at you - I'm sure the lack of oxygen at birth had something to do with this.

From: at: 2009-10-11 17:19:16

Don't try to explain something that wouldn't be understand by users like this. You'll waste your time and get fight with somebody, and it's not good for your heart. Try to hang up with some "less-brain-dead-people", and you'll be happy. As I mentioned, "less-brain-dead-people" means "people like US that is very interested in good systems....not whom is very occupied making objections that don't make sense.....

 "It is just a waste of time try to give pearls to porks....."

From: fab at: 2008-12-22 20:43:33

what makes this desktop or distro perfect?

why do people always think that there actually IS the perfect desktop! there's nothing like a perfect thing. it's all about choice and individualism. if your opensuse desktop would be perfect, why would you wait for an update or a new release of the distro? hm...

From: Anonymous at: 2008-12-24 00:39:29

After all this effort, at the end of the day, all you will have is a brain-dead interface. This is an interface that, when you are attaching a file to an email, opens a tiny 5-inch dialog in your 20-inch screen. To see all of your files, you have to expand the dialog size. Then you have to drill down several levels of directories to select the file for attachment. For the next attachment, it opens the same tiny 5-inch dialog (which you have to resize - again) at the same place as before. Then you have to drill down the same levels of directories to select the next attachment for your email. This interface is too dumb to remember where you last were, or what size you left the dialog. The same is true for saving or opening files in other applications. This is an embarrassing blight on the Linux landscape. The cringe factor when switchers to Linux mention this shortcoming is huge. Apparently intelligent programmers think this is the OK way to go. And apparently millions of GNOME users think this is a productive use of their time. They are partly brain-dead themselves: the part that says 'why should I be stuffing around with this?' is broken.

From: Anonymous at: 2009-01-03 05:20:35

Why pay Microsoft and Gates for their monopoly business ? it is not perfect , but a very good and secure software

From: Tony Starr at: 2009-01-02 20:29:19

What is this guy talking about? You don't make any sense at all. I almost certain that I wouldn't be the first person to call you a moron. This article will effectively draw more attention towards opensuse as an alternative to a windows desktop which happens to be exactly what some people are looking for.

From: Anonymous at: 2009-01-21 02:38:46

LOL - i got a good laugh at your post.  Calling linux users brain dead when the only critique you have relates to attaching files to emails and saving files.  So, if that is the extent of what you use a computer for then linux really isn't for you - stick with windows, an os for the truelly braindead.   A typical linux user is a power user, who understands and know hows to use the power and flexibility under the hood that is inherent to linux.  So go suck on an egg, I think I hear your mommy calling you - time for bed.

From: Anonymous at: 2008-12-25 01:06:53

I have been an Ubuntu user for the past few years, but I am always trying out the other main distros to see how they are progressing.  SUSE has always been one of my favorites and this tutorial helped me get up and running quick and painlessly.  Thanks for you continued effort in creating great tutorials for new users and experts.  As for the few other comments posted on here, you guys need to get a life, take the flame wars elsewhere

From: Anonymous at: 2009-01-02 16:07:47

I couldn't agree with this post more.  The Perfect Desktop series is a great introduction for people who are not fluent in *nix systems.  Of course the term perfect is subject to who says it.  At the end of the day, the tutorial does accomplish its goal: To create a desktop environment to replace a Windows environment.  Keep 'em coming.  Good work.

From: Gauss at: 2009-02-10 21:51:17

Nice walkthrough.

I have some questions that I think leads to essential info for a guide with such a title.

- How much hard disk space takes all the installation with the selected software? I want to know this to figure out my partitioning scheme to my needs.

- Which version do you recommend? 32 bits or 64 bits? I think OpenSUSE has a 32 bits kernel with PAE to manage huge amounts of RAM in case the 32 bits version has its advantages. I just want to know if the 64 bits version it's mature enough with at least a good support for embedded Java, Flash, etc.

From: Anonymous at: 2009-07-01 19:25:42

>I think OpenSUSE has a 32 bits kernel with PAE to manage huge amounts of RAM incase the 32 bits version has its advantages.

Hardly, because 32 bit programs are still limited to 4 GB (3 GB with a 32-bit kernel even).

>I just want to know if the 64 bits version it's mature enough with at least a good support for embedded Java, Flash, etc.

Yes it is. Why do you think it's not? Because Debian (and subsequently Ubuntu) made a mess of it time ago?

From: Anony at: 2009-02-05 01:56:47

You shouldn't download a file as root, even if you are putting it in you home dir. That way won't be able to mess with it later as a normal user.