Opensuse state of affairs
As the year in which I’ve distrohopped in over a decade is over, I have some conclusions. In 2022 I don’t expect to distrohop anymore! On second thought, I’m pretty satisfied with Opensuse (OpenSUSE is too screamy), even Tumbleweed. There were some minor annoyances left, which were enough for me to consider Debian 11 and Testing, which look like nice distros. But this week I decided to just understand and fix the annoyances I had with Opensuse, and now I’m pretty happy!
So, what needed to be fixed?
- The slowdowns (or just plain lockups) during some btrfs maintenance process since I set up regular snapshotting with snapper. These were the biggest annoyance, because videoconferencing just after boot (when the processes would run) were simply impossible. The venerable Arch wiki had, of course, the answer:
btrfs quota disable /. That’s it. I’m not even sure what this does, I’m guessing making sure snapshots can’t grow too large? In any case, instant fix. Yay.
- Tumbleweed, Opensuse’s rolling release, does have a version of Python more recent than 3.8 in the repos! Turns out that they use 3.8 for some system services, and that’s why it’s the default, even if the repos have 3.9 and 3.10. This is reportedly changing though. The Python situation is a bit weird anyway in Opensuse, because it also comes with 2.7, which is what
pythonpoints too… And they are the only distro which seems to have patched Python to look in
libfor installed Python libraries, under any prefix.
venvworks around this by symlinking them together. Making sure I work in the right env (
python3.10 -m venv venv && source venv/bin/activate) is the blessed way to deal with this, but then you must make sure you haven’t installed things CMake may be looking for outside of that
venv, because is does not understand virtual environments. Hope this gets easier when
python3does not depend on
- The deal with Leap, Opensuse’s stable release, it a bit clearer now: point releases follow a ‘tick-tock’ model, which means that even point releases contain updates (15.2 updated the kernel from 4.12 to 5.3, and 15.4 will probably update to 5.14) and the uneven releases… don’t. Also, they should release a new point release every year, so there should be about 2 years between updated stable releases, which matches Ubuntu’s LTS cadence, which for me is a good balance between not having to worry about a 1000 updates if I leave a machine off for two weeks (or a few days) and yet not having severely outdated software either. In that sense, Debian releases stables a bit too slow: only a few months ago would you have gotten your first kernel from the 5 series…
What is attractive about Opensuse?
- It has a stable release, and a rolling release which is bleeding edge without the blood. They’ve not forced the utterly incomplete Wayland on users yet, unlike Fedora for instance. Also, last week they pushed pipewire to be the default. So, in the ~ 6 months I’m using the distro on a daily basis, I haven’t seen any breakage or premature software yet, which is exactly what I like. Think of it as Fedora, but a bit more stable.
- In terms of community, it’s probably the smallest of the big distros (Ubuntu, Fedora, Debian). Not that smallness has any particular advantages, but it’s great it’s big enough for a response subreddit, and for third party packages to be routinely offered. They also have a build service and user package index, which is actually the source for many an Ubuntu PPA it turns out. So, in terms of software availability, I haven’t found any problems. Also, the repos have a nice utility
opiwhich lets you search for packages from all of these sources from the command line.
- It sets you up with btrfs by default, KDE has first rate support (don’t think they’re any slower than Neon with new updates) and don’t push shite like Snap on you. Sane and modern defaults. (Almost) no weird things.