There is a new version of this tutorial available for openSUSE 13.2.

The Perfect Desktop - OpenSUSE 10.3 (GNOME)

Version 1.0
Author: Falko Timme

This tutorial shows how you can set up an OpenSUSE 10.3 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 10.3 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 9
  • gFTP - 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 - Java Bittorrent client
  • 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)
  • Real Player
  • Totem - media player (video/audio)
  • Xine - media player, supports various formats; can play DVDs
  • Brasero - CD/DVD burning program
  • GnomeBaker - CD/DVD burning program
  • K3B - CD/DVD burning program
  • Multimedia-Codecs


  • Nvu - WYSIWYG HTML editor, similar to Macromedia Dreamweaver, but not as feature-rich (yet)
  • Quanta Plus - web development environment, including a WYSIWYG editor


  • VMware Server - 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 three CD/DVD burning applications in my list (Brasero, Gnomebaker, 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 all three. The same goes for music players like Amarok, Banshee, Rhythmbox, XMMS or browsers (Firefox, Opera).

OpenSUSE 10.3 lets you choose between multiple desktop environments (GNOME, KDE). I've decided to install GNOME in this article.

I'm using the OpenSUSE 10.3 DVD in this tutorial to set up the system. You can download it here: The procedure might differ if you use the OpenSUSE CDs instead of the DVD.

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 10.3 DVD iso image from, burn it onto a DVD, and boot your computer from it:

Select Installation:

Select your language:

Skip the media check by clicking on Next:

Accept the license agreement:

Select New Installation:

Select your time zone next:

On the Desktop Selection screen, choose GNOME:

The Installation Settings screen lists the available installation settings:

Usually the default settings are ok. If you like to change the keyboard layout, klick on the Expert tab and then on Keyboard Layout:

Select your desired keyboard layout:

If the settings on the Installation Settings page are ok for you, click on Accept:

You might have to accept a few licenses before the setup continues (please note that Adobe's Flash player and Sun's Java are among these licenses - two of the packages that we'd like to have installed):

Confirm that you'd like to install OpenSUSE 10.3 now by clicking on the Install button:

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4 Comment(s)

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Unfortunately this HOWTO will lead to a lot of users complaining the package management is still much to slow: You will get a list of predefined online repositories. Select them all to make sure your system can install all available OpenSUSE 10.3 packages if they are needed. This is a really stupid suggestion, and a total contradiction to Note that it should be used with care, however; you should only add an extra repository when you need it and when you know what it will provide. Adding many repositories will slow down your package manager’s start-up time and adding repositories that you don’t know about can ruin your system!


I wouldn't go as far as calling an 'enable all' stupid but it has to be acknowledged that some repositories actually contain conflicting files and older versions which can create confusion.

I would advocate not to switch on more than you absolutely have to, because it's not just the update time (it's caching now so it's a little bit better than it used to be).  You main problem is that without the repository enabled you may never see any updates appear, which is not good from a security point of view.

This leaves you two options: enable monthly to catch up, or leave them on entirely which gives you the aforementioned delays..


Thanks for the article. (Un)fortunately I found it after I bumped into troubles with my OpenSUSE 10.3 Gnome. I'm fairly new to OpenSUSE, but I got pretty far on my own with the OS setup (from CD not DVD) and app installs. The article clarified some things for me about adding software during/after setup, and the checklist approach for desired apps was helpful.


In the Package Selector, by default the Search has Name, Summary, Description, and RPM Provides selected. If you leave it that way and search for e.g. opera, you will still have 100 Available Software to choose from. I suggest going into the Package Selector's Search function and unchecking Summary, Description, and RPM Provides. I hope this approach still work okay with the author's list.

While I'm at it, I would go with ktorrent-feature-dht instead of ktorrent. And, having moved over from KDE, not sure what irc client or multiple-chat client is good on gnome. Or cd burner for that matter.