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openSUSE 13.1 vs Ubuntu 13.10: a friendly match

Ubuntu is one of the most popular GNU/Linux-based operating system, along with Linux Mint. Ubuntu started off as a great operating system which, with the help of LUGs and communities, became extremely popular.

However it’s not an easy task to crack the desktop market dominated by Microsoft – that’s one of the reasons why both SUSE/Novell and Red Hat decided to leave the desktop space and focus on enterprise.

Canonical started off in the same year when Facebook started and is still struggling to get a hold of the market.

The decline of PC sales forced the company to look at the other booming markets – mainly smartphones and tablets. But the company started off too late. Android is already established as a dominant Linux player in the mobile space, making it even harder for Canonical to succeed – especially when they don’t have any concrete plans and most of what they are doing is improvisation instead of initiation.

With the increasing focus on mobile has put desktop at the back-burner. Most of the talk and development is going on for mobile devices.

So from what I see desktop is no more Canonical’s priority.

At the same time Canonical/Ubuntu has been a lot in news for all the wrong reasons. It’s dispute with EFF, FSF, X.org, KDE and the larger open source community has also raised serious concerns over it’s role as a good open source citizen.

So I am noticing quite a lot of people who have started to look else where. Being a convert from Ubuntu to openSUSE I tasked myself to find can an Ubuntu user switch to openSUSE? Will openSUSE be able to address his/her computing needs? At the same time I am someone using GNU/Linux for practical as well as philosophical reasons as well which distro is closer to the Open Source community?

I have adopted Devil’s advocate approach to challenge openSUSE at doing the tasks that Ubuntu can do well and which one is better open source citizen.

Ease of use
Gnome was one of the reasons it was extremely easy to use Ubuntu, then Canonical did some great job with jockey and other stuff which made it easy to use Linux. A concept popularized by Klaus Knopper – Live CD – also contributed to this as people were able to test it before trying. But it’s passe today every GNU/Linux distribution out there is easy to install and use.

Ease of use heavily depends on what Desktop Environment you use. But if we look at the core openSUSE experience everything is extremely easy whether it’s setting up network, configuring printer, installing or managing apps or customizing the OS to your liking.

openSUSE 1 Ubuntu 1

The installation of openSUSE is as easy as is that of Ubuntu (you can see the comparison in this video – coming soon).

Better experience with desktop environment of choice
openSUSE offers GNOME, KDE, Xfce, LXDE & E17 so one can use which ever desktop environment (DE) he/she prefers. As far as base OS is concerned irrespective of the DE you use you will have access to all core features of openSUSE – whether it be YaST or anything else. In case of Ubuntu, Unity is Canonical’s baby and none of it’s features are available for other Ubuntu-based distros. openSUSE treats each DE as the first class citizen and here you can install different DEs on the same system without breaking it. Under Ubuntu Unity and Gnome don’t work very well together. With KDE apps like Ubuntu Software Center look out of place and instead of a pleasant experience it looks more or less like a Frankenstein’s monster which pieces have been stitched together.

So here openSUSE has better offering than Ubuntu

openSUSE 1 Ubuntu 0

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Swapnil Bhartiya

A free software fund-a-mental-ist and Charles Bukowski fan, Swapnil also writes fiction and tries to find cracks in the paper armours of proprietary companies. Swapnil has been covering Linux and Free Software/Open Source since 2005.

50 Comments

  1. Yeah I think both are the greatest distributions in linux (also I like Debian) cause they offer almost all the software available for linux, which is also very updated, and also they are very stable, easy to use and offer many tools. My problem is that I like Cinnamon and the elementary Os (pantheon) looks, so I have to choose Ubuntu, cause OpenSUSE won’t offer that desktops, at least not now.

    Anyway, I’m not sure which Ubuntu to choose, Ubuntu or Ubuntu Lts. Which one would you choose and why?

    • Personally I would not stick with the LTS’s you get left behind. 13.10 has much more features and deals more complete than 12.04 . I think lts’s are more geared towards enterprises.

    • You’re wrong with Cinnamon –> http://en.opensuse.org/openSUSE:GNOME_Cinnamon

    • If you don’t want to be “left behind” by using LTS, keep in mind that the next LTS is coming out t his April.

      At home I go LTS to LTS as much as possible since my kids all use it and are not very forgiving if an update breaks something. :)

      I used to use my laptop to go in-between LTSs to see the changes and if there is anything new/fixed enough to warrant me going outside of the LTS life-cycle.

      Unfortunately the laptop can’t work with post-12.04 kernel and so have moved to Fedora and am about to switch it to openSUSE 13.1 when I get the chance.

    • Why not try out Linux Mint? Mint 16 will come out soon with Cinnamon 2, it is based on Ubuntu so you will get fresh packages too. I am using Mint 15 in the last couple of days (last time I used this distro was around 2007) and I am really impressed with Cinnamon. I am a regular KDE user, but Cinnamon looks and feels great.

  2. The goal was of this article was 100% to advertise suse if it where to show the differences you would not have used a scoring system and would have pointed out the advantages of both systems not just only where open suse breaks even or exceeds Ubuntu.

    There was also a ridiculous amount of bias. Didn’t give much credit for the software center and made it appear as if all Ubuntus hardware compatabiluty is a result of leaching off of SUSE’s work! the author also accused Canonical of abandoning the desktop selling its users information and more… All while claiming that the comunity never stikes out at Canonical!?

    • “Didn’t give much credit for the software center ”

      It seems you were so upset that you did not even read the article properly. I clearly wrote – “Canonical did some great job with jockey and other stuff which made it easy to use Linux. “

      • I did overlook that (though I still feel it was side noted in comparison to ease of use ppa’s in SUSE) and I apologize. However due to the scoring system and the enormous quality gap you imply it would probably be more accurate to have titled this article as “why SUSE is better than Ubuntu”.

  3. Pretty biased article from FOSS-asslicker and and also anti-Ubuntu. Providing a very low quality article by including a bashing of other system when writing the article about the system.

    Seriously…crap.

    • It’s a ‘vs’ article. It has to _have_ comparison and it’s opinion. Did you want it to be something like weather report? :-)

  4. Biased? YES! It’s an opinion piece. But a good one. One thing to up the score for openSuSE: its support cycle is in any case longer than the 9 months you now get for anything that’s not an LTS and you still have extended lifetime releases (up to 3 yrs). If you directly compare 13.10 with 13.1 … I think I’m in for an openSuse install this year.

  5. Sayantan Das

    I have serious concerns about what you wrote and how you place your “friendly” bias”. Moreover, the linux experience” – This part of your article somehow tries to assert that fact that Android and Chrome OS are ahead of Ubuntu in terms of privacy, security and openness

    • No it doesn’t. I clearly stated that when people say that they don’t feel Chrome and Android are not Linux are for those 5 reasons. I dont know why you reach the conclusion that “This part of your article somehow tries to assert that fact that Android and Chrome OS are ahead of Ubuntu in terms of privacy, security and openness…” where does it imply that?

      :-)

  6. Don’t forget that a few years ago when anti-Mono was all the rage that openSUSE received a significant portion of that negative attention because they were guilty by association. Novell was pushing for Mono and Novell owned SUSE so it all trickled down to openSUSE as well.

    Also, Ubuntu’s Software Center brings in something that hasn’t been (successfully) seen in Linux since Linspire/Lindows; being able to get FOSS as well as for-pay applications in one location.

    And don’t forget that Ubuntu is available pre-installed on some major OEMs for consumers (not just enterprises), something nobody else has accomplished either. In India, Dell is even selling Ubuntu-powered computers in their stores.

    That being said, I have not been so happy with Ubuntu and Canonical’s recent thinking and I do like using openSUSE (as well as Fedora).

    • I ditto your thoughts. Linspire/Lindows and others made the same mistake Canonical is doing now – so much in-house/private sauce which increases the work, leaves it buggy and eventually it fails. Canonical should have learned from past.

      SUSE/RHEL are defacto OS in enterprise space….the reason we don’t see Fedora/openSUSE on consumer desktop because early on these companies decided not to waste resources in consumer space given MS monopoly.

      There were many Linux distributios which used to come pre-installed on
      PCs…I remember TurboLinux and they also included licenced non-free
      codecs….so Canonical is not the first one to do it.

      It’s just that not many big companies were interested in desktop Linux. Now with Google entered the game we see Linux (Chromebook) being the #1 best seller on Amazon and Linux (Android) being the dominant mobile platform.

      • Fedora and openSUSE are also not pre-installed on major OEMs because they don’t have the commercial relation that Ubuntu has.

        OEMs can speak directly to the Canonical company for support, addressing issues and licensing which allows them to manage the community (and only) version of Ubuntu.

        SUSE has been sold pre-installed on computers (Thinkpads if I remember correctly) and both come on servers not only because of their market focus, but they have a company supplying the OS (or rather, “one throat to choke when things go wrong”).

        For this reason I was hopeful that Ubuntu could make it where others have failed and RH/Fedora and SUSE/openSUSE are not in a position to duplicate exactly.

        They still have a chance, but I think they need to refocus and lay out the corporate/community relationship, focus and division.

        I would like to see Ubuntu and Canonical step slightly away from each other allowing Ubuntu to be more community-focused but still with an emphasis on making it consumer(user) friendly and have Canonical provide questionable add-ins for corporate partners (including OEMs like Dell, etc.), enterprise management tools (Landscape?) and even services like pumping up Ubuntu One as a viable alternative to Dropbox, Box, etc.

        • Now where is the option to mark this as the ‘best comment’?

        • Fedora and openSUSE (or their commercial equivalent RHEL and SUSE) are pre-installed on major OEMS, just not consumer machines. I was involved in a project last year that the bid spec was for 1000 desktops running SUSE. The contractor supplied those machines pre-installed.
          Vendors that are selling Ubuntu pre-installed on consumer machines are doing so to benefit their bottom line, not Canonical’s. Ubuntu is still very popular, so by offering it preinstalled, they reach a niche market for their hardware.

          It’s all about supply and demand. Now, if Canonical was producing their own hardware, like Apple, that would be a different story.

          I do agree with your final comments about Ubuntu and Canonical separating themselves somewhat so that Ubuntu is more community driven like it was in the beginning. Maybe a model like Redhat and SUSE follow with a community version that feeds into a commercial version.

  7. This article inspired me to try out 13.1 yesterday. Every six months i install the newest kubuntu, but not after first testing out a couple of alternative distros. I usually try Arch, or some debian-testing based distro. I do this because i do want an alternative to the *buntu, mostly because I am increasingly unhappy with the direction Ubuntu is going and most of their decisions have angered me in the last two years. However, I go back to Kubuntu for a few reasons. Opensuse failed to find my usb wireless adapter, something ubuntu has been able to do for a year and a half. If i have time to tweak a system to work with my hardware, i will spend that time on something lightweight and sleek, like Arch or Debian or Crunchbang. Those are my favorite distros to use. Debian packages are a bit dated, and Arch has broken too many times after a simple package update. I always feel like i am on the verge of finding and using a different distro long term, but at the end of the day, i need to get work done, and i need to have everything working.

    • @bc28643c67405d999d09b0ab3a06db65:disqus Did you post the question on openSUSE G+ community? They are quite helpful.

  8. So the fact that 3 days after the release there still aren’t 1-click install packages for the AMD/nVidia blob is also part of the “awesome” hardware compatibility?

    “But they are closed source and blah blah blah”… I DON’T CARE! If you release your distro you’d better have the stuff that people take for granted in 2013. All you get for now in the forums is “download the .run file from nvidia”. NO, Hell no! Don’t waste my time.

    “You get left behind with LTS”. And you don’t with “evergreen”? Seriously?

    “Ubuntu does not do that and this and that other thing” Fine. Please make sure that your distro does those things that Ubuntu does not but would it kill you to also provide the nice things that Ubuntu provides, like easy access to codecs and proprietary video drivers? Is a checkbox in the installer for those things going to cramp the style?

    • Psst – the Packman repos have it all, and the codecs are 1-click install. There are also 1-clicks for the latest proprietary blob betas.

      Stop complaining, you haven’t really googled much have you?

      • Are you actually suggesting that I should install critical stuff like drivers from some obscure repo?! I’ve looked on software.opensuse.org plenty, I do not like what I’ve seen.

        “Stop complaining, STFU noob… “. Every time a distro makes me recall the way I used to get stuff working in the 90′s, I’m going to complain.

        But hey, I guess the only way to get shit fixed is for Linus to to go medieval on some distro or another. Like in this instance: https://plus.google.com/+LinusTorvalds/posts/1vyfmNCYpi5

        The rest of us are noobs and/or complain too much. The software you are using is perfect, just like you are.

        Sod off.

        • > Are you actually suggesting that I should install critical stuff like drivers from some obscure repo
          You mean the official community repository which contains software that doesn’t meet the main repository standards – AKA non-FOSS software. Yes. It’s the _official_ community repository, buddy. Seeing as virtually every single OpenSUSE person uses it, it’s not going to cause problems.

          > I’ve looked … plenty, I do not like what I’ve seen.
          The download for the distro and the search for packages published by verified package distributors? Yeah, totally.

          > [inaccurate quote] & just like you are
          Yeah, never said any of that. Grow up and stop trying to argue through name-calling and slander.

          > Every time a distro makes me recall the way I used to get stuff working in the 90′s.
          Yeah, for some reason I don’t think you even knew what Linux was in the 90s. This is blatant hyperbole/misinformation.

          > The rest of us are noobs and/or complain too much.
          What? I’m fine with the new guys, since they’re usually nice enough and ask for help instead of simply complaining. The complainers (like you) truly are annoying, though. You didn’t look – you still haven’t – on the official news blog of OpenSUSE they have a link to the repo with the proprietary blobs for the latest catalyst version. Furthermore, AMD has their own installation script which is easy and works. Even more futhermore, OpenSUSE is not the cause of no blobs being available – blame AMD. They’re working hard to fix their driver issues, but there are still incompatibilities and the like.

          > They only way to get shit fixed is for Linux to go medieval…
          Except we really don’t listen to Linus. We love him to death, but he’s not the ultimate authority. OpenSUSE didn’t change a thing because of that post, because nobody else really has the same complaints and Linus has a new topic to yell about every day. You aren’t the only person using Linux, you aren’t the only customer. There are countless other concerns and bugs to work on. The driver situation is bad, yes. But it always has been – for decades. And it’s only now becoming *slightly* better! Blame the people who make the card/official blobs. Other than that you’re screaming at a wall – about how dare the wall not do the door’s job.

          > The software you are using is perfect…
          I’m using Windows 8, actually. I wiped Linux the other day due to a system-halting problem in Manjaro (caused by my own hand) and waited
          for OpenSUSE 13.1 to officially release before re-installing. since I
          have no pressing matters that Linux needs to solve – I haven’t even gotten around to installing OpenSUSE 13.1. So I mean, whatever you want to believe, bro.

          Before you post again – step back from the computer, read what you’ve written. Now realize your immaturity/impoliteness and general mis/lack of information, and be quite.

  9. Despite the fact that I have no big experience with Linux, I’ve managed to install Opensuse 13.1 Lxde DE on a Dell desktop. I’ve also managed to install skype, flash and all the other codecs so easily. Working with Opensuse and lxde is a big relief and so pleasurable.

    • Open SUSE 13.1 has been quite good. Besides i made it work just by upgrading my OpenSUSE 12.4. Everything works well though grub menu still has Open SUSE 12.4 line but systems actually is booting to 13.1 and with latest kernel too.

  10. Very nice article. =))

    In a few words about the openSUSE:
    “It just works!”

    For Ubuntu fansboys:

    “Keep calm down, and like the Windows users, try to imagine that there is a better life in a place very close.”

    PS: I don’t hate Ubuntu, he hates me. ;)

  11. Well written. Having been an opensuse user for 15 years, it gets better of course, but after dabbling in other releases, this bird always comes home to roost. It is not perfect, as is no distribution, open or closed, but it works well, and the community is very helpful. Using 12.3 now, but I see a 13.1 install on the near horizon!

  12. Part 3 is Brilliant.

  13. I like both, but am just more comfortable with Ubuntu or Ubuntu based distros. Doing a quick Google search for “*program* PPA” isn’t that big of a deal personally.

    I tried OpenSUSE in the past and found some programs I used not available with the software.opensuse.org. Doing a quick search now it does appear they have everything I need (and more up to date).

    Unfortunately when I tried the newest release of OpenSUSE (Gnome), I couldn’t connect to the internet after installing. Couldn’t figure out how to get it going, so I went back to Ubuntu.

    Either-way, Ubuntu, OpenSUSE, Fedora, Mint…I recently gave up Windows on my desktop and would be happy with any of those, rather then go back (especially to 8).

    • The internet thing was a slight bug with 12.3 – you just needed to reboot after install and you’d have internet. You might want to give OpenSUSE another try. 13.1 is also out now.

  14. Maybe a comparison to Kubuntu 13.10 would also be more useful? I think Kubuntu 13.10 is a bit more friendly for new users than OpenSUSE 13.1, and prettier too.

    • I originally thought that, too (comparing Kubuntu with openSUSE) as both are KDE based. But then I decided it wasn’t a good idea because Canoncial cast Kubuntu off. While it is still based on Ubuntu, it is not supported by Canonical and the main benefits today are from being able to use Canonical’s infrastructure.

      Simply put, unlike the different desktops in use by OpenSUSE, Kubuntu is not just Ubuntu with a different desktop on top of it. It is a totally different distribution and comparing it would be like comparing Linux Mint. Since Canonical divorced itself of the various derivatives, the only fair comparison is Canonical’s distribution known as Ubuntu.

      That said, a comparison of Kubuntu versus openSUSE would certainly make an interesting read, but it should stand on it’s own merits and not Ubuntu’s.

    • Mint KDE LTS-versions have been decent also.

  15. I don´t want to start a flame war but i know many opensource contributors from launchpad with Great stuff. And i think its necessary to say that GNU-LiNUX is the best name of the eco-system imho.

  16. i’d just like to say that under ubuntu my video card (ati4850) hardly works, under suse works far better but still no driver for it :s

    • That’s because it is a legacy card (I have an HD 4670), and Ati doesn’t really support it (two drivers in a year is not a support). You can only use the open source driver, but than you can’t play modern games, or you can downgrade kernel and xserver and you miss some critical updates.

      I will buy an nvidia card next year, because I want to play some games. I am currently using Linux Mint 15 (based on Ubuntu 13.04) with the proprietary driver and an older kernel (3.8 I think).

  17. My wife has openSUSE installed with Windows and I have Ubuntu and Windows.

    We both love openSUSE and Ubuntu and very rarely use Windows. Now your ad – (it looks like their phone plan is not working out so they are now now going to
    increase focus on tablets), and many more crap thinking. Have you got
    brains, Ubuntu is the only OS you can use for desktop, laptop,
    tablet, phone, TV and server. (increase focus on tablets), They
    signed and Ubuntu will be made by a well known cell manufacturer and
    four well known house hold names are very interested and testing
    Ubuntu. A little patience they will be announced before end April.
    Ubuntu are growing massively in china, India, Germany, South America
    and many other countries. OpenSUSE are only used on computers and not
    on phones etc. They are not even pre installed on computers.
    Computer sales will go down in the next few years and if your OS cant
    be used on more systems it will be their end. Please your biased ad
    for openSUSE sucks. State the truth and keep to the truth.

    • I’m not sure what you’re talking about. Ubuntu is Linux. OpenSUSE is Linux. There’s nowhere you can run Ubuntu that you can’t run OpenSUSE. OpenSUSE has an ARM distribution already (while Arch and Linux and others cooperated in getting to ARM, Canonical, which got Ubuntu there first, didn’t lift a finger to help anyone else, as usual). OpenSUSE runs on desktops, on laptops, on x86 and ARM tablets (that aren’t locked), and on servers. I don’t know of any TVs or phones right now that have Ubuntu or OpenSUSE on them.

      By the way, Android is another OS (based on Linux) that meets all of your criteria. Windows probably does too, although no one’s licensed WinRT for TVs yet.

      This is all beside the point to the purpose of the article, which was a comparison of the two distros based on a set of predefined criteria.

  18. How is Ubuntu’s desktop not working out? It’s still fairly popular and its still one of the first names you hear when people recommend a Linux distro to a new user. Also, I disagree with the idea that Ubuntu does not bring users to Linux. I wanted to use linux. I read about Fedora but heard Mint and Ubuntu were probably best for beginners. Mint didn’t work well and was too much like the Windows desktop I was trying to escape from, as such I went with Ubuntu. If Ubuntu did not exist at that time I would have left the entire Linux community. Now, after some experience, I’m willing to consider other distros like openSUSE and Arch. You guys have been on a sustained crusade against canonical for two years now. When will it end?

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  26. the writer is obviously biased .

  27. in a sense, hasn’t Ubuntu paved the way for openSuse’s market? so it is not really us and them, but instead, perhaps the two distros are more like two different flavors of ice cream. do you prefer chocolate or vanilla?

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