The Perfect Desktop - OpenSUSE 12.1 (GNOME)

Version 1.0
Author: Falko Timme , Christian Schmalfeld <c [dot] schmalfeld [at] projektfarm [dot] de>
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Last edited 11/18/2011

This tutorial shows how you can set up an OpenSUSE 12.1 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 12.1 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
  • Chromium - Google's open-source browser
  • Flash Player
  • FileZilla- multithreaded FTP client
  • Thunderbird - email and news client
  • Evolution - combines e-mail, calendar, address book, and task list management functions
  • Transmission BitTorrent Client
  • Empathy - multi-platform instant messaging client
  • Skype
  • Google Earth
  • Xchat IRC - IRC client


  • LibreOffice Writer - replacement for Microsoft Word
  • LibreOffice 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, Chromium).

I'm using the OpenSUSE 12.1 GNOME Live-CD in this tutorial to set up the system. You can download it from here:

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

cd /home/howtoforge/Desktop

you must replace howtoforge.


2 Installing The Base System

Download the OpenSUSE 12.1 GNOME Live-CD iso image, burn it onto a CD, and boot your computer from it. Select 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 12.1 image with default settings is now being copied to the hard drive:

After the installation, the installer asks you to reboot the system. Click on Reboot Now - this will immediately reboot the computer:

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

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3 Comment(s)

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From: sofie at: 2011-12-28 10:31:19

Thanks again Falko.

From: Joseph at: 2011-11-27 04:55:40

Some of the text feels left over from earlier guides - that said, the earlier guides were very nice. For instance, Flash is at version 11, but the guide lists version 10. Also, there's no need to go through a terminal, wget, etc. to get Google Earth anymore. An rpm or deb for Google Earth is available from and you can install it with PackageKit or zypper or rpm. While this isn't strictly relevant, Google Picassa is no longer being actively developed for Linux. The lastest available version is a beta of 3.0 while Windows has 3.8. In that case, if a user is still using Picassa on Windows they might want to run 3.8 with WINE rather that substitute the inferior Linux version. As is Picassa might not continue as a desktop application anyway in the future.

 Despite those minor quibbles,great article - it's excellent for showing to people who make knee-jerk comments about it's not really possible (for anyone) to switch to Linux because some (unnamed) software they (and usually an implied everyone else) use isn't available. Most of the programs you're installing have Windows versions and are probably being used by most Windows users now, and the others are equal or better replacements of other Windows free software - such as k3b for InfraRecorder or CDBurnerXP. 

From: nagyp at: 2011-12-10 10:07:16

During following the tutorial, Java didn't appear for me in FIrefox when entering about:plugins.

So I installed it like described on the following page (12.1 x86_64):