A few weeks ago the openSuSE project team released a new version of their Linux distribution, called “Leap 42.1”. It is based on SLE (SuSE Linux Enterprise) and therefore will receive fixes and security updates from SLE. Maintenance and bug fixes will also come from the openSUSE community.
Several desktop applications received upgrades in this release. Leap 42.1 features the new KDE-Plasma 5 Desktop (5.4), Libreoffice 5 and Gnome 3.16. The Linux kernel moved to version 4.1.
Unfortunately, there is no live system DVD available, so there’s no way to test hardware compatibility before you do the upgrade. However, you can still create your own using SuSE Studio, but this is certainly not an option for a quick preview.
In order to upgrade my existing openSuSE 13.2 installation on a 7 year-old desktop PC , I followed the instructions described in the SuSE support database (SDB). In contrast to former upgrades, there were almost no package conflicts. After reboot, the new system was “ready-to-use” and there were no major showstoppers or issues – nice! Even a ‘dmesg’ reveled no problems with the new kernel version – all devices were properly detected and configured.
KDE Plasma 5 Workspace
However, daily use revealed some issues with the new KDE Plasma 5 Workspace. Plasma 5 did not start, because of a broken Kwin desktop manager. Removal of old KDE4 configuration files did not solve the problem. While the Leap 42.1 ISO image contains the KDE Plasma 5.4 Workspace, version 5.5 is already available in the KDE Framwork5 repository. Therefore, I added the KDE Framwork5 and Packman repositories using YaST2 and changed their priorities, which prevented the Kwin from crashing and fixed a couple of bugs.
However, some features of the former KDE 4 desktop release appear to be missing or broken. When I tried to create a new file in Dolphin by selecting Create New > Text File from the context menu, the following error was presented to me: “The file or folder ../../../templates/.source/TextFile.txt does not exist.”. I was able to fix this by creating a symbolic links to the contents of the “/usr/share/kde4/templates/” folder. The context menu will be provided in a future KDE release by a package called “kde-baseapp5-libkonq”.
However, a few annoyances remained: Some apps are not QT5-ready, yet. For example icons do not appear in the Kwin system tray, such as icons for the Firefox, Thunderbird, Skype and VLC media player. VLC fails to start in an attempt to place an icon into the tray, which doesn’t work. As a workaround, I added the flag
to the vlc.desktop file.
Most of the desktop widgets are not yet ported to Plasma 5. When I tried to download additional widgets using the Plasma Add-on Installer, it complained about a missing xml file. This seemed to be related to some network settings and could be fixed by adding two lines to /etc/hosts
126.96.36.199 download.kde.org 188.8.131.52 files.kde.org
Another thing I noticed was the high system load after startup. It was caused by several background services, such as “File Search”, which can be disabled in KDE Settings. Turning off all kdebugsettings also increased desktop performance.
Is Leap 42.1 really worth the upgrade?
If you are eager to upgrade your existing SuSE desktop installation, you should be aware of these minor issues. Since openSUSE Leap 42.1 is based on SLE, it is supposed to be one of the ‘most’ stable openSUSE releases ever. I can confirm that the number of showstoppers and package conflicts is much less than with previous releases, so it is worth to give it a try.