Blathering | Raspberry Pi to Monitor Air Quality with an Arduino based Thermostat

Arduino Test Board.jpg

I’d like to call myself a tinkerer, but I don’t tinker enough hold that badge. I do like to look at other projects and see what is out there for things to make my life more efficient. My target is to make my home, work for me, to automate every aspect that is feasible that has real value to me that will make life a little more efficient and have a bit better resolution on the control of the world around me. One area that needs some work is the HVAC (Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning) controls. I have been pondering this for a while and I think I have a good project plan to make my house work for me just a little bit better.

This is just a blathering of a project to come. If you have any thoughts or suggestions, think that this is ridiculous and a waste of time, fire those off too. I’m open. It may not change my mind but it is always worth listening to a dissenting opinion.

Project Goal

I want a home thermostat and environmental control system that is under my control and doesn’t babble off to a cloud someplace. I want it to be intelligent enough to manage the room temperatures, know if a window is open in the house, adjust the dampers in my ducting to cycle air between the floors differently depending on the time of year. I want it to be aware of the current outdoor weather as well.

Why Weather Aware?

Weather Station.jpgI want the system to know how humid it is inside and outside of the house. Much of the summer in Michigan, I don’t need to have the air conditioning on, but I do want to keep the humidity down inside of the house. I also prefer my windows open to closed, so it would be nice if I could have my thermostat would know if windows are open. There is no reason to dehumidify the house when my windows are open.

Targeted Features

The Arduino portion can handle a lot of the functions I am targeting but there is another angle, I am interested in knowing what the pollution is inside the house. I have only dug into this a little bit but the Enviro Raspberry Pi Accessory is able to measure indoor air quality, humidity, pressure, light and noise levels. This could even tell me how effective my filter is too and find the most cost effective filter that does the job. It would allow me to run a Design of Experiments to test and maximize the cleanliness of the air in my home. I don’t know the extent of the on board air quality sensor but it could really do the job.

The Plan

Thermostat.jpgConfigure and build the Arduino thermostat, that is robust, reliable and extensible to control the HVAC system. Once I can do that reliably, I’ll add more sensors to it, window sensor, temperature sensors of different rooms, duct pressure at the blower, then I can start to add automated dampers in the system to control temperature leveling in the house more precisely. Also, to shunt airflow to unused rooms in the house as well during extreme weather conditions. I want to have all the data, inputs, outputs, status and so forth to be accessible on my network so that at any point in time from any computer terminal, I can look at my “environmental system” status. Of course, it will somehow be running openSUSE Linux, someplace. Either a Raspberry Pi running openSUSE or better yet, something x86 based. It’ll be incredibly, joyously nerdy.

Next Steps

For now, I am still gathering information, parts lists and so forth. The first step in this chain will be to replace the thermostat with an Arduino Smart Thermostat that will have better functionality. Once that is working and I have a good understanding of how to manipulate it. I will start to add sensors to it. From there, I’ll figure out my greatest need to further improve efficiency and add the functionality needed.


Enviro Raspberry Pi Accessory to Monitor Air Quality at

Arduino Smart Thermostat equipment dampers and louvers

Puppy Linux | Review from an openSUSE User

BionicPup review title.png

A distribution of Linux that I have heard about for many, many years, considered trying but have not ever given a spin has been Puppy Linux. It is known for being small and low resource intensive distribution. I have played with some other low resource distributions but this one might be the smallest resource usage of them all. 

This is my biased review as an openSUSE user of Puppy Linux. I have been running it for a few days in VM and also on 32 Bit hardware. I am a fan of old hardware so anything that keeps my old hardware going and going usefully is fantastic.

Bottom Line up front, Puppy Linux is great for specific use cases like old hardware and a great way to set up a live USB environment for troubleshooting hardware or a network. It isn’t for me for full time usage on my main machine but this most certainly is not just “yesterday’s Linux.”

If you want to know more, keep reading but it’s kind of long, otherwise, this is a good time to bail or jump down to my likes and dislikes.


The installation of Puppy Linux isn’t quite as straight forward as the mainline distributions out there. That is, it takes several more steps It’s not bad but you sort of have to know what you are doing to get this set up. I decided to install BionicPup from here.

It boots into a live environment with a nice welcome and some initial settings configurations. I think that this is particularly fantastic. My understanding is, Puppy has been greeting you like this, before it was the thing to do.

I included the screenshot of the desktop, not because I want to show you how cluttered it is or that it looks dated but to show the coolest looking dog I have ever seen. I’d get a dog like this… maybe… I mean, assuming it doesn’t become my robotic overlord.

PuppyLinux VM 5

When you select to install it, as I am doing here after dinking around a while with it, you are given two basic options: Universal Installer, which is a typical installation you would have to the internal storage or a Boot flash USB Installer. For this testing and my initial purpose, I selected the Universal Installer as my ultimate intended target is an old Dell Inspiron 5100. Before I committed to install, I wanted to look at the Install Applications tab and take note on that for later. The Puppy Package Manger is the place to go to install your software.

After selecting Universal Installer you are presented with four options: USB Flash Drive, USB Hard Drive, Internal Hard Drive, Internal Flash Drive. I am curious about some of the other options, as in what they are doing different but for my purpose, I chose the internal hard drive.

After selecting the drive type to which I am installing, I was presented the need to set up the drives using Gparted. I am glad for how verbose the instructions were, but what they didn’t give me was a clear description of what was expected.

I made a boot partition but it was completely unnecessary. For future note, don’t do that again. It should also be noted, if you have an EFI only system, you will need to keep it on the USB stick. Puppy Linux does not support EFI only systems at this time.


When you have set up your drives, you will be dumped back to where you were before starting Gparted. In this case, you can just select the partition in the upper-right pane that you intend on installing the operating system.

You will be given a confirmation of the partition and a choice if you want to do a frugal or full installation of Puppy Linux. I went for Frugal on the VM and Full installation on the actual hardware. I figure, I have a whopping 60 GiB of storage, I am going to use it!

There is some extra information about choosing the Frugal installation. In a nutshell, you can save your session to a place of your choosing.

Next you have the option to install Grub4dos. Keep in mind, this will not work with EFI, from my understanding. If I am wrong about this please contact me.

I am a bit confused by this and why it insists on a “Windows” entry is recommended. Grub4dos will be installed on the Master Boot Record (MBR). Next you will have the option to review and make modifications to GRUB. This is outside of my area of knowledge so I left this as it was. I can see this being a very useful tool and I like the way it exposes the ability to make these modifications so easily.

I wanted to reboot out of the live environment into the installed environment. This was the longest logout / reboot process I have ever experienced. Also, the logout is very early 2000s in the feeling of it. Not a knock, just an observation. I don’t dislike it, at all. I find it charming.

PuppyLinux VM 33

The first time you shut down, you are given the option to save or not. I selected save. I did try the finn and that froze my system up as such I could not unfreeze it, so I recommend you use the administrator, just as it is recommended by this warning.

You will be asked for an administrator password. If you have saved Puppy Linux to a multi-session CD, you can actually save the settings there. I think that is pretty darn interesting. I just saved it to the hard drive by pressing Continue.

Next, I selected the partition which the installation lives and chose not to encrypt my data. I don’t see utility in encrypting my data when using Puppy Linux at this time.

I chose the recommended option of saving in a folder. I didn’t understand the other option, actually. So… going with what I understand is probably the best way to go.

After you are given a final sanity check.

Lastly, I changed the Swap file size to 512 MiB because, why not. 64 MiB just doesn’t seem like enough.

The installation process is a bit more lengthy than other distributions but not difficult. The ONLY portion of it that I didn’t care for was the process of partitioning. Gparted is a fantastic application but I didn’t really understand what “right” looked like for Puppy. After playing in the VM I installed Puppy on the 32-bit hardware, and based on what I learned I only made one partition and I did NOT use the finn.

First Run

Upon restarting, Puppy Linux seemed to have started as expected. Grub4dos looks very DOS 6.22 but that is not a problem at all. I rather like the look and I know I stand alone on that.

PuppyLinux VM 46

Upon initial boot, you get the same set of setup options as you did in the live environment.

Because this article is way too long, I am going to gloss over the rest of my initial playing around of Puppy Linux. Suffice to say, it is very usable, lots of software available and I can Telegram from it so, that’s pretty great.

I do like the Puppy Package Installer and since it didn’t have Apt installed, I was happily forced to use this system. Not bad at all.

PuppyLinux VM 56

Even on 16 year old 32 bit hardware with VERY little memory, it works fantastically well. I did have some trouble with Gcompris, as in, it wouldn’t start at all, so I am going to investigate that to see if I can figure out why. Outside of that, this is a very, capable platform to keep that dreadfully old hardware going.

What I Like

Number one positive for Puppy Linux is it has very clearly written instructions for going through the installation process. The process does not feel polished but it does feel very usable, very utility and very complete. For me, the polish is less important, especially considering the hardware I am putting it on.

Puppy Linux comes with a desktop environment that has system tray, so it’s immediately better than Gnome out of the box.

Everything is very snappy. I’d say it gives any modern system a run for its money just on the snappy factor. Of course, there is a huge gap in performance but the applications you are you doing with this computer are not going to be the same for most other computers.

A welcome bonus to using Puppy was the “easy button” of software installation. A very sensible, straight forward package management system that is easy to navigate and install. It is nicely verbose and gives you a great summary upon completing the installation tasks.

I appreciate the spattering of widgets along the bottom of the screen to tell you what the system is doing. I don’t know how much I need to see my disk space, nice to know it and some of those could be hidden vis-à-vis the KDE Plasma status and notifications fly out. It would make it less busy along the bottom but I still like it overall. Far better than

What I Don’t Like

I am just not a fan of single-slick by default, old habits die hard and I frankly don’t see the value in changing the way I interact with my desktop. I’ve tried single-click from time to time and it just doesn’t work for me.

It does look dated, not horribly, but it has that dated “toy” look. I don’t dislike it, it is just not my preference. I am spoiled with KDE Plasma so it’s hard to really push that off of it’s pedestal.

There is no automatic partitioning by the installer. Not a big deal but some suggested expected partition schemes would be helpful. Since it didn’t explain what Puppy Linux wants by default. I created a boot partition unnecessarily

When going with full or frugal installation, it recommends full for a “strong CPU” but “strong” is not defined. So, I am just guessing due to lack of reference.

Final Thoughts

BionicPup, perhaps the coolest name for a release of any bit of software I have used. This is my first exposure to Puppy Linux and I am very happy with it. I think it is a very satisfying distribution to use, especially on old hardware.

Setting up Puppy Linux is actually quite trivial if you have the patience to read and have somewhat of a technical background. I think that even someone with basic computer knowledge could do it, if they were motivated.

When you log in, the sound effect used is a bark. Not a puppy bark but an adult dog bark. I like the bark but wouldn’t a puppy barking be more appropriate? You know, something yippy?

In the end, would I switch my primary machine to be Puppy Linux? Not a chance but I do have some very specific use cases for this finely crafted, highly utility operating system. I would very much like to use this as a stand alone USB based desktop for troubleshooting and hardware testing, I am also going to run this on my dated Dell Inspiron, for the time being. There is a very complete software selection available.

There is a section, below the available downloads that states: “A Puppylinux distribution can also be built and assembled using packages and components from another Linux distribution called in Puppy the “binary compatible” distribution. The choice of a binary compatible distribution determines the availability of additional packages, among other things.

It made me think, Puppy Linux with an openSUSE base would be pretty fantastic. Having the package management tools of Zypper and configuration capabilities of YaST would make that a Prime Puppy Linux flavor.

I highly recommend giving Puppy a walk around the block. It’s a great experience and maybe even a right of Linux-passage.


Puppy Linux Home

Puppy Linux Blog

Snapshot Control | More openSUSE Tumbleweed Awesomeness

cubiclenate-opensuse board campaign-2019

If you haven’t tried openSUSE Tumbleweed in a while, I highly recommend you take it for a spin. I am not using Tumbleweed on the majority of my computers. I have openSUSE Leap on a few but since my experience with Tumbleweed has been so positive it has taken over most of my machines. I will recognize that there can be problems with a rolling model, especially if you have some mission critical requirements with specific pieces of software that are less friendly to the rolling model.

These are features I have known about for a while but I have decided that it should be highlighted again because it is Pure Linux Awesomeness.

Some Cool Things

For the uninitiated on how openSUSE Tumbleweed snapshots work, check out this video. It is less than 2 minutes of information goodness.


Before you do a distribution update and are very concerned about the status of the current snapshot you can review it here:

At the time of writing, the current snapshot, 20190621, has a bending review percentage of 91. You can review the current or older snapshots to see the score status. You know, just for fun.

Another Really Cool Thing

I have been using Tumbleweed for over two years and this is a feature that I haven’t used but wish I would have sooner. I learned on this page that there is a nifty command line tool for examining the Snapshot status and pinning your Tumbleweed system to a specific snapshot. In effect you can dictate when you allow your Tumbleweed to roll to the next snapshot.

To start out, install Tumbleweed CLI

sudo zypper in tumbleweed-cli

Once installed you have to initialize it.

sudo tumbleweed init

To see what your system’s snapshot status

tumbleweed status

This will output

latest   : 20190621
target   : 20190621
installed: 20190621

Or similar based on the date you do this.

Although it seems self evident, I want to explain what this truly means.

Latest – What is the latest snapshot available

Target – If you have switched to a particular target, it would be listed there.

Installed – What you have currently installed.

Lets say you updated and are having problems with a regression in, oh, lets say VirtualBox and you really need VirtualBox to work. Since you are directly managing your snapshot status, you can very easily target the last snapshot which had it working but lets say you don’t remember what that snapshot was because you just… well… don’t remember.

tumbleweed list

This will give you a list of what is available. Keep in mind that due to storage limitations, only 20 or so are listed and presumably available.


Lets say you remember that you knew that the 20190603 snapshot was the last one that worked exactly to your needs. After your roll your system snapshot back to that date or approximately that date, you can lock your system on that particular snapshot

sudo tumbleweed switch 20190603

Now if you look at your status,

tumbleweed status

You will get something like this:

latest   : 20190621
target   : 20190603
installed: 20190601

Now you can upgrade to that snapshot

sudo zypper dup

File a bug on whatever is giving you problems

When you are ready to update to the latest snapshot

sudo tumbleweed switch

That will switch to the latest snapshot. To verify:

tumbleweed status

and get this output (or similar)

latest   : 20190621
target   : 20190621
installed: 20190603

Update to the latest snapshot

sudo zypper dup

Check the status once again

tumbleweed status

Should get you this:

latest   : 20190621
target   : 20190621
installed: 20190621

Should you decide that this method doesn’t work for you, you can revert back to the standard Tumbleweed rolling model.

sudo tumbleweed uninit

Like it never even happened.

Final Thoughts

openSUSE Tumbleweed with full (mostly) control of your snapshots is pretty amazing and adds a whole new depth of control to your computer. This truly is like the best of both worlds between Leap and standard Tumbleweed. It does require a little more work than Leap, and perhaps a bit more work than the standard model but this truly is a fantastic feature that makes openSUSE Tumbleweed the best operating system out there.

Of course… that is my opinion. Your opinions may vary.


KDE Plasma 5.16 on openSUSE Tumbleweed | Pretty Great

KDE Plasma 5.16.0 Info Center

Recently, the fine folks of the KDE Plasma team have released version 5.16. You can check out the announcement here and see all the work that has gone into it. This update rolled down to openSUSE Tumbleweed in the last few days and it was fantastic enough of an update, I had to blather about it. I am just going to highlight what I think are the really cool aspects.

I want to note that 5.16.1 is officially out with some bug fixes but that hasn’t hit openSUSE Tumbleweed at the time of writing. I am sure that is going to roll down soon. The purpose of this is just to highlight some of the features of which I think are most noteworthy.

Do Not Disturb

There is now a button on the notifications fly out for “Do Not Disturb”. Under most circumstances, this is not something I would use very often but if I were to do some recording or live streaming, that little feature becomes very, very important. No one needs to see that my latest ebay shipment has been delivered or a Telegram notification.

KDE Plasma 5.16.0 Notification

Better Notification Configuration

I may have missed some of these improvements previously but the obvious change to the notification appearance had me curious and I wanted to see the notification settings dialog.

KDE Plasma 5.16.0 Notificaiton Configuration

Not only has version 5.16 given you control of your notification… notifications… you can customize per application the notification behavior. This is very clever and I don’t know how they pulled this one off but just having this kind of flexibility is pretty fantastic. It also gives you a quick and easy spring board to customize the notification sounds.


Notification Popup Flexibility

Another neat feature is that you can customize the location of the popup, if you don’t want the popup to show near the location of the system tray widget, you can select any another location that better suits you.

KDE Plasma 5.16.0 Notification 4

I don’t see a need to change it as I like it in the default position but it is still a nice feature to have to tweak it best for you and what you would like. I can see Center-Top having some appeal… maybe.

Microphone Indicator Icon

Better described by Eric Adams in this video, there is an icon that that is displayed when the microphone is in use. It will report what application is using the microphone, you can mute and adjust the volume.

Final Thoughts

KDE Plasma is having a regular cadence of refinements and improvements. Plasma is by far the most flexible, memory and resource respectful desktop environment available on any platform. Sure there are some desktops that use less memory but none that additionally have this fantastic level of customization.

I appreciate Plasma because I know that every new release is going to be an improvement. Each release has further refinements, more features or enhancements to existing features to make the desktop experience even better. It’s nice to see that new releases aren’t met with criticism or complaints of loss of features. Instead, they are happily greeted by users and and the biggest complaint anyone can make is that they don’t like the defaults. The fantastic reality is, KDE Plasma can be shaped and molded to whatever you want.


KDE Plasma

Plasma 5.16.0 announcement

Plasma 5.15.5-5.16.0 Change Log

openSUSE Tumbleweed

KDE Plasma Microphone Icon Interaction on YouTube by Eric Adams



openSUSE Leap 15.1 | Upgrade and Fresh Install Successes

openSUSE review titleEvery review I do is from a biased lens as an openSUSE user and this will be no different. I will be taking a biased look openSUSE Leap 15.1. I’d like to say this will be completely objective… but it won’t. openSUSE is the operating system of choice for nearly every aspect of my life for its technical merits as well as the awesome community that supports it.

This is my experience installing and upgrading openSUSE Leap 15.1 on physical hardware and a Virtual Machine. The applications on each machine vary based on their purpose so feel free to look at specific machines I have set up with openSUSE here.

Fresh Installation

I performed one fresh install of openSUSE Leap just to see if the installer has had any noticeable changes. The biggest and most welcome difference I could spot was the side bar installation step. This is something I have seen on many other installation tools and I am quite pleased to see it with openSUSE. It takes the mystery out of where you are in the process.

For a full, step-by-step walk through on installing openSUSE here.

I want to make one other note about a positive, remarkable change in the installer that I appreciated. Before committing to the installation, there is an option to adjust the CPU mitigations based on your needs. I left it at “Auto” to let the smart folks at SUSE and openSUSE determine what is needed for me.

Offline Upgrade

The first and recommended method of performing an upgrade to an existing system. I performed the upgrade on three systems so far without any issue. All of these were upgrading from 15.0 to 15.1. A wonderful trait openSUSE has is that the upgrade process is very straight forward.

On the boot screen, select Upgrade instead of Installation.

openSUSE Leap 15.1 Upgrade 0.png

Upon starting up the installation, you are greeted with the License agreement. Should you agree to it, next will begin the process of System Probing

Next, unless you have a tremendously complex system setup, you will be presented a location to perform the update. The installer will parse through the previously used repositories and give you the option to edit and or toggle the status for the upgrade.

The easy thing to do would be to let it automatically remove the old repositories and start fresh. For one two of the upgrades, I decided to go in there and change out any references in some of the repositories from 15.0 to 15.1 and toggle the repository active.  I had to resolve one set of conflicts that required a change from the Packman repository to the openSUSE official repository. Just reading the prompt will easily guide you through it. It should also be noted, even if you make the “wrong decision” it can easily be fixed at a later time.

If the installer recognizes an active network connection, you will be asked if you want to add online software repositories. No is an option but if you say yes, you will be given a list of suggestion online repositories.

After you select Next you are given a final installation summary with the option to make some tweaks and adjustments and a final opportunity to bail out.

Very nicely, this installer is the most verbose and wonderful output I have ever seen. It gives a fantastic, current status of what exactly is going on and how many packages with an estimated time left broken down by source.

After a reboot all three systems were functioning without a single glitch. It was simply fantastic.

Online Upgrades

I have one machine that I neglected to update to 15.0. It wasn’t a machine that was heavily used. Mostly just for my kids’ education activities that don’t require Internet access. A summer went by and I didn’t really think much about that old laptop. When I turned it on and realized it was still on 42.3 and had NOT been updated, I thought I would do an Online Upgrade. Since I really had nothing to lose and only smiles to gain. I went into the YaST module to manage the Software Repositories to change out any repository references that had “42.3” to “15.1”. Then, I ran the command in terminal

sudo zypper dup

After some time, this crusty 13 year old Dell Latitude D830 completed the Distribution UPdate, I rebooted the computer and it was, without a single glitch. I was rather impressed that it worked so well. I mean, of course it worked well, this is openSUSE but to be without a glitch or having to “faff” with it at all was quite surprising.

What I Like

The sheer durability of Zypper as a package manager and how it handles all the packages is absolutely astounding. I will concede, that APT, DNF or EOPKG may be just as good but that hasn’t been my experience with APT and I haven’t tested DNF or EOPKG as thoroughly. What I can say with the utmost confidence is that Zypper can do pretty amazing things when it comes to system package management. The interactive nature of it allows me to make the best decision upon any conflicts that may arise. Zypper is simply fantastic and has, as of recent become one my favorite applications.

Going from openSUSE Leap 15.0 go 15.1 was nothing special our outstanding. They both look the same, outside of some performance improvements. Visually, it’s the same, it functions the same.

When performing a fresh installation, I appreciate that you can choose your CPU mitigations depending on what you see as your threats. This is of course an expert function and for shlubs like myself, “Auto” is probably the best choice.

What I Don’t Like

Setting up the network with the openSUSE installer for wireless is a bit of a challenge. Not an issue for me because I prefer to plug into a proper Ethernet port. It is becoming more common to buy laptops that do NOT have a proper port due to whatever silly reason like cost reduction. Oh, sure, Ethernet on consumer grade machines is probably a complete waste for most but I am very much a fan of a “hard line” so perhaps I am the minority. I would prefer a more automatic process or something that presents itself for the user more approachable. This would eliminate some complaints I have heard about the installer.

The partitioning tool would be improved if the summary gave you a graphical representation of what was going on along with the written summary and perhaps some sort of easy buttons for new users. It should also be noticed that this is quite possibly the best tool for setting up a more complex arrangement of partitions just not the best for new users.

Final Thoughts

openSUSE 15.1 is an incredibly boring and unremarkable update to 15.1 or even 42.3 for that matter… which is fantastic, absolutely fantastic. True to form of openSUSE, nothing radical happens from version to version, just steady improvements to the underpinnings of the operating system.

The overall experience with installation and upgrades and using openSUSE, in general, is very positive and thanks to the Open Build Service along with the openQA, the experience of installing and upgrading openSUSE uninterestingly consistent. With this fantastically predictable behavior, openSUSE is most certainly where I want to stay. The operating system remains a reliable partner in your computing experience allowing you to do more interesting things on top of it. openSUSE frees you up to make, produce or develop to your hearts content.


openSUSE 15.1 Release Notes

Download openSUSE Leap

openSUSE Open Build Service



Virtual Machine Manager with QEMU/KVM on openSUSE Tumbleweed

One of the beauties of a rolling distribution is that sometimes you are forced to use a new piece of software… My regular Virtual Machine application, VirtualBox was non-functional for a few days due to a kernel update and some sort of mismatch with the kernel driver or something… The positive is, I got to know a new Virtual Machine Application, Libvirt with QEMU/KVM. Quite honestly, I am not even sure what to call the application stack. The application is virt-manager which is libvirt and the application title bar is Virtual Machine Manager so maybe it goes by them all or I can’t make heads or tails out of the name.


I found I had to install a few things to make this work.

sudo zypper install libvirt qemu virt-manager libvirt-daemon-driver-qemu


Set up my first virtual machine. After doing a little reading and digging to figure out what was the best solution for me in my use case, which is, on a desktop testing other distributions or software in a virtual machine. This is how I set it up.

Initially, you have to Add a connection. Depending on how your system is out of the gate, or if you canceled this operation. Here is how you get back to it.

File > Add Connection…

Virt-Manager-01-Add Connection

For my purposes, I am using the QEMU/KVM user session as the Hypervisor. I also selected the Autoconnect tick box to ensure that when I started Virt-Manager, it would make this connection.

Next step is to create a new virtual machine. Since I am installing from an ISO, I selected the first option. If you are running a 32 bit version of Linux, you can select that architecture instead. Although I have not played with this as much, my understanding is you can use other CPU architectures here as well.

Virt-Manager-02-New VM

Unless you have already selected the media, it is at this point you can Browse to select the ISO you have downloaded.

Virt-Manager-03-New VM

Select the Brows Local button at the bottom of this window to search your file system for the ISO of choice.


The application will generally automatically detect the distribution, if it is not detecting it you can manually search or find a “similar” upstream project.


Next step is to set the memory and CPU. I elected to use two CPU cores.

Virt-Manager-06-Memory and CPU

The next step is to either select or create a disk image. In this case, I am using the default Create a disk image for the virtual machine of 32 GiB. It should be noted. Unlike VirtualBox, these disk images are static allocations for the size you set. They do not dynamically size based on the amount of used space on the virtual disk.

Virt-Manager-07-Storage Volume

The final step you are ready to begin the installation. Modify the name, customize the configuration and change the network selection if you see fit. I just use the Usermode networking. For my purposes this works fine.


Upon selecting finish, a new window will open and the ISO you selected should boot up. Since openSUSE booted just fine, any good operating system will work similarly.

Virt-Manager-08-GRUB Boot


When you open but not begin running a Virtual Machine you have the ability to make modifications to the Virtual Machine Hardware. As compared to VirtualBox, it feels like you have a lot more control and also a lot more ways to have the VM misconfigured and not behave as you would like. Your mileage my vary.

Should you want to make changes to the number of CPUs, Memory or any of the graphics and network settings can be adjusted to suit your needs. I did not alter much of anything here. In order to make the video adjust as I would like in Plasma, I set the Display Spice type to Spice server and Video model should be set to QXL.

This will allow me to take full advantage of whatever screen real estate I have available.

Virt-Manager-16-Adjusting Plasma for monitor.png

This is also the part of the post you can point and laugh at my old, non-high-DPI screens to which I will respond, “my old hardware still works, thank you very much.”

What I Like

Qemu with Libvirt just feels much faster than Virtualbox. It has a kind of raw, running on “bare metal” feel as opposed to that slightly sluggish virtualized feel to which I am more accustomed. I do appreciate this performance enhancement. I do have to preface that this is not the experience I get from all desktop environments but Plasma does run quite well.

The interface, although initially a bit overwhelming, is pretty great. I am not going to go into detail on all the features as most of the time, the defaults work well for my use cases.

I don’t have any issues with any updates that roll down breaking this utility. I am not completely sure of the technical reasons as to why but it seems as though this project is less affected by updates to the Linux Kernel.

What I Don’t Like

Virtual Manager is a GTK application so it is not as nice looking as the Virtualbox Qt, although at the time of writing this, I see there is a project on Github called qt-virt-manager.

There isn’t an option to have a dynamically resizing disk so I have to be more careful with the number of disk images I keep on my primary drive in my /home directory. Thankfully a little bit of symbolic linking to a 3rd, removable, drive and all the qcow2 files are available. It is a bit of extra work but worth it for the reliability and increased performance Virtual Machine Manger provides.

The name of this application stack is a bit confusing. I don’t really know what to call it. I learned of it as Libvirt, libvirt is the name of the directory that houses my virtual machine drives (~/.local/share/libvirt). Just knowing Libvirt didn’t answer how to get it going as it wasn’t called that in the repositories so a bit of searching and reading documentation I was able to get it all together in my head and take some notes. So, I think the confusing name and the barrier to entry did make it a bit challenging but I appreciated the journey to get me to this point.

Final Thoughts

Virtual Machine Manager is a great, reliable tool that appears unaffected by changes of the affects of a rolling distribution. It is, in some ways, a bit more difficult to set up, but once you understand that the “Add Connection” portion and set up the QEMU/KVM user session, the simplest Hypervisor. You are good to go. There is so much more you can do with Libvirt and it’s components. I am only barely scratching the surface of its capabilities.

Although the disk allocation is not as convenient in Virtual Machine Manager, it is easy enough to manage using additional storage and it also keeps me from allowing too many unused machines from littering my computer.

Ultimately, this won’t keep me from using Virtualbox but it does give me another tool to play around with and try stuff out. I am very appreciative of everyone involved in making this tool reliable and easily used for the average Linux user. I am especially grateful that this application stack is more tolerant to the rolling release model that is Tumbleweed.


Virt-Manager on openSUSE Software

Qt Virt-Manager on Github

KVM/QEMU hypervisor driver

Feren OS | Review from an openSUSE User

FerenOS review title

I haven’t been able to do one of these in a while but it is always fun to try out other distributions and experience another example of how to answer that user experience question. As part of the BigDaddyLinux community. I have given Feren OS a spin to see how it goes for me, the biased, well entrenched openSUSE user.


The installation is done by what looks to my poorly trained eye to be the Calamares Installation Tool. This is, in my opinion, one of the most user approachable installation tools I have used. Clean, not clumsy and but yet not so basic that you can’t configure it to your liking.

Feren gives you one option when it starts. Live Media mode. You can play around with it or go right into the installation.

The installation is straight forward and works quite well. When the installation tool starts up you get an animated wheel while it “warms up” or whatever, presumably detecting bits about your system and starts you off to select your language.

Next you need to select your location and keyboard layout. This auto detected my location and keyboard layout.

For the partitions I used to erase the entire disk because for this purpose, erasing the disk works fine. Next, I entered my user information. There isn’t an option to add multiple users and I am unsure if you were to do an upgrade if you would be able to pull in previous user information or not.

The installation process provides an installation summary that includes everything you just selected, Location, Keyboard Layout and partition layout. After you select “Install” it will give you one final opportunity to bail out.

During the installation you aren’t given a slideshow of distribution propaganda, just one image to stare at. I would have liked to have had details fly by the screen during this process. Not that most people would care about that sort of information but I happen to like it. When the installation is complete, selecting “Done” will have the system reboot.

First Run

I really meant to nab the Plasma version of Feren OS but instead seem to have snagged the Cinnamon version and in keeping true to my form… I just went with it. Cinnamon is a fantastic desktop environment and since I haven’t played around with it during my last Linux Mint journey, this was a good refresher.

My overall impression of this spin of Feren OS is that it is a kind of re-imagining of the Cinnamon desktop, set aside the technical shortcomings of Cinnamon as it is based off of Gnome Shell and is encumbered with the single thread process limitation, it just looks fantastic. The Cinnamon developers have done a great job of mashing up the visual capabilities of Gnome into a more familiar desktop paradigm with which many are familiar. No one can argue that that Cinnamon (or Gnome for that matter) don’t have a kind of pleasant, well polished smoothness to it with the right level of desktop effects as to not distract you but also give you that plush Corinthian leather interior feel.

The package selection of Feren OS is undoubtedly satisfactory. There will always be the debate as to what should be default as part of the installation but I am not going to belabor this point. It has all that you need to do the basic computing tasks, a browser and LibreOffice.

Theme switching is much like you would expect in Cinnamon but with Feren OS you get a nice dark spin on that GTK theme that is much needed. I still wonder why light themes exist…

An interesting feature is this very user friendly browser selector application. If you are not satisfied with having only Vivaldi or Firefox, you can try another by selecting the install button

FerenOS-14-Web Browser Manager

What I Like

Feren OS is a good looking desktop. Cinnamon seems to work very well and I like the theme customization options provided. The key selling point to Feren OS is the theme configuration settings. It is truly effortless and

The Browser Manager is a great tool that gives you a great tool to select additional browsers as you desire. I like the ease of which you can install and uninstall them. Well done!

The installation process is seemingly painless and I appreciate any installation that is painless. I can’t say that any of my hardware is odd enough to cause issues with any any distribution I have tried as of late.

What I Don’t Like

I didn’t dig into it enough to find things I didn’t like about it. Aside from the default choice being Cinnamon which is GTK and Gnome Shell 3 based and my personal preference is to shy away from GTK and Gnome, it is quite nice. I did have some issues with Cinnamon launching and going into a “fallback mode” but this is in a beta stage and from my understanding, a known issue.

Since this is based in Linux Mint, it does use APT for the package manager which is not my preference. That is a nitpick issue but also saying, I would like to see a Feren OS with an openSUSE base, specifically on Tumbleweed.

Final Thoughts

In testing these various distributions of Linux. I have come to a loose conclusion that what makes a distribution for me, at least initially, that what makes it appealing is not so much the default theme and appearance but rather, how quickly I can modify the theme and tweak the interface to my liking. Cinnamon, especially the Feren OS Cinnamon is very close to my liking and with a few clicks, I can modify the theme to not trigger a headache.

Feren OS is easy to install and the provided applications make it easy to get along very quickly. It looks nice and the defaults appear to be sane. The only thing in which I struggle a bit is trying to understand the the unique selling point and ultimate goal of Feren OS but I can certainly see that the theme chooser is probably it’s greatest selling point. After seeing how the “classic” version of Feren OS is set up. I will be checking out the Plasma version in the coming months. If the developer can make GTK sing a Qt version will be even better.

In the end, would I leave my beloved openSUSE for Feren OS? No, I would not. I did enjoy my time in Feren OS, I enjoyed the way the desktop is customized. I do hope that this one-man show keeps going with it. It will be interesting to see how he continues to develop his distribution.

Further Reading

Feren OS Home

Calamares Installation Tool

LinuxMint 19.1 | Review from an openSUSE User Community