The official documentation for installing openSUSE is well laid out on the wiki pages. There is a lot of really good information. For someone new coming to Linux, it might be overwhelming so I am breaking the instructions down to what works very well for me.
My preferred installation method is using the USB flash drive with the install ISO on it. The full instructions are here for your reference.
I am going to give my version of that and to make sure that it is clear, these are my recommendations. Not everyone will agree with these and that is fine. Adjust them to suit your requirements.
A good place to start is to download the operating system for you system. If you have a 32 bit system, Tumbleweed is your only option. 64 Bit Machines have the option of Leap or Tumbleweed.
Download the current version of Leap ISO or Tumbleweed ISO.
I personally recommend Leap for the typical user. Tumbleweed arguably requires a little more effort by its users to ensure it is maintained properly. Leap is especially easier to use for those that you happen to do “desktop support”. Updates just require clicking on the icon in the system tray (KDE Plasma) to get it rolling. No entering additional passwords and such.
Weather you choose the DVD installation or the Net install, they both work very well. I prefer the larger DVD but that is because I am stuck in my old ways and generally prefer an offline installation that doesn’t pull new packages down.
Writing the Image to USB Drive
Use SUSE Studio Image Writer program as outlined on this page
I would recommend you get at least an 8GB USB flash drive for this purpose, especially if you are going to use the DVD installation media.
Instructions to install the Windows version.
Instructions to install the Mac version.
Packages for Linux from the Open Build Service
The next trick is getting your computer to boot from the USB drive. This varies from system. You will have to research how to change your boot order on your computer.
Web search (using DuckDuckGo, Google or Yahoo or whatever engine you like best) your computer’s make, model name or number and “boot from USB”. You should hopefully find what information you need from that. On my Dell machines, I press F8 to get into the BIOS to make my changes.
Now would be a good time to decide if you are going to jump with both feet into the Linux world or if you are going to have a dual boot system into Windows or Mac. That will also change things. A good article to read on newer systems with UEFI booting (Windows), check this article out.
openSUSE does support UEFI Secure Boot, so disabling Secure Boot is not necessary. It works quite nicely and having an issue with it is quite unlikely.
My recommendation is to give Linux a whirl on a machine that is not your primary system and always back up your data first. Often you might have a second laptop that is a few years old. Use that one.
The install tool for openSUSE is pretty straight forward. For the most part, defaults are perfectly fine but I do like to tweak them, ever so slightly, for my use cases.
You have 3 Basic options from the boot loader. By default, if you do nothing it is just going to boot from the Hard Disk. For the purposes of this explanation, Installation is the recommended option.
The installation process takes a bit to spin up. While the green bars are growing along the bottom of the screen, you can press the ESC key you can watch what is going on in the background.
Agree to the license agreement… if it suits you. If it doesn’t, that ends the installation.
Normally, I do an offline installation but should you be doing an online installation, you will be given the option to add additional repositories now.
You are given a few options for installation. For the purpose of this instruction, I am going to outline the process to set up openSUSE for the desktop. Your options are: KDE Plasma, Gnome, Generic, Server or Transnational server.
Next will be the storage partitioning. The Suggested Partitioning may not be to your liking. It is a good idea to review the setup or if you are starting from a blank drive, go for the guided setup. This will allow you to define what to do with the disk space in a few questions.
This will allow you set up Logical Volume Management or enable disk encryption. If you need further information on it, there is a useful help button. If you don’t know what any of that is or if you should have it? Go with no and go on to the next page.
Very Nicely you can select to have one partition, if you select BTRFS you can enable snapshots for rollback (awesome) or propose a /home directory with the filesystem of your choice. I personally prefer XFS for /home.
You will be given a summary of the proposed installation. I would recommend you go into the expert partitioner and verify the layout.
Here is my suggested Partitioning
- EFI or GPT partition for booting
- Swap partition of approximately the size of your available RAM. This will allow for you to hibernate your system
- Root file system of BTRFS with system snapshots activated. Snapshots do take up more space. This can be tuned to reduce the number of historical snapshots if you wish.
- Home partition of the remaining space with XFS as the filesystem
I prefer a slightly larger swap space (sized to be at least the same amount as available RAM memory). Adjust the partition based on your needs, or use the easy button and just let the guided setup make it happen.
For this particular Virtual Machine, I let the system dictate its suggested partition scheme. I am mostly accepting of it and generally for most purposes, this would be fine but since I can’t leave well enough alone, I have to tweak it.
If your machine is UEFI enabled, make sure you have a partition /boot/efi along with / (root), /home and swap.
Typically, the defaults will be fine.
Next, YaST will synchronize with the NTP (Network Time Protocol) servers. I set the hardware clock to UTC and if you want to dig into the settings, Select Other Settings… and you can define what NTP server you would like to set.
Bonus fun, you could set up your OWN NTP server on your own network to which they will point.
The last step will be the User Settings. If you are installing over an existing installation of openSUSE you can import the User Date from that previous installation. I think this will work if you are installing over top of other distributions but I haven’t tested that. You can also check to use this password as the system administrator password too.
You can even skip user creation entirely.
The installation Overview will give you a final review and adjustment to make to the system. Here I generally open the SSH port and activate the SSH Server. A new feature here is you can change the CPU mitigations. I leave it at Auto but you may have other needs that can be set immediately.
You will be given one last chance to bail out before you confirm the installation. No changes have been made to your disk(s) until you select, Install.
The installation process does not have any rolling advertising propoganda. Feel free to watch the progress or read through the release notes. One thing I appreciate about this installation is it gives you a fantastic breakdown of the process, what repository the packages are coming from and an estimation of what is remaining in each.
Once complete, the system will automatically reboot. If you are running UEFI and Secure Boot, nothing further will be required as the installation will make the adjustments to your BIOS to directly boot from the EFI partition into Grub. This, of course can be adjusted.
Potential hardware issues
- Wireless card – It may or may not support Linux out of the box
- Graphics card – Immediately after installation, the graphics card may or may not be optimized for your system. Some newer machines may need a little massaging to get working 100%
Once the installation is complete, you can now enjoy openSUSE Linux.
My cautionary advice
If you are looking to try out openSUSE Linux (or ANY Linux version for that matter) out for the first time is to install it on a secondary machine. Just in case you screw something up, you don’t want to lose your data or be out of commission on your primary computer should you have an unfortunate happenstance. You may not have the best Linux experience but it will much preferred to messing something up on your primary machine and going to the neighborhood computer shop to bail you out.