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OpenSUSE 13.2 supercharged with smoother setup, system snapshots, Btrfs, and more

Chris Hoffman | Nov. 13, 2014
OpenSUSE 13.2 is finally here after a year in development. These 3 killer features were worth the wait.

opensuse primary

OpenSUSE 13.2 was released a week ago. As with the recent Fedora update, the latest release of openSUSE took a year to develop instead of the standard six months as the organization retooled its development practices.

SUSE Linux has now been around for over 20 years, and it's still going strong. As usual, the latest release serves as a foundation for developing Novell's SUSE Linux Enterprise and brings some significant new improvements. So let's dive right in!

A streamlined installer
OpenSUSE provides live media, and that live media can now be persistent. This means you could set up a live openSUSE 13.2 USB stick and have your files and settings saved on it between uses. But openSUSE still recommends using an old-fashioned DVD installer disc of 4.7 GB in size for actually installing the operating system on your computer.

The installer lets you choose your preferred desktop--GNOME, KDE, or another one. GNOME and KDE are on fairly equal footing in openSUSE these days, but the openSUSE community has always loved KDE. KDE 4.14 is the default, although GNOME users will also be right at home.

The openSUSE installer has seen a lot of much-needed polish and streamlining. Previously, the installer had a "phase 2"--first it installed on your system, and then you'd reboot into your new system and be forced to go through an additional setup process. Now the installer does everything during the standard installation process, and there is no phase 2.

The installer also has a "brand new look and feel focused on usability" and a removal of configuration screens like LDAP user authentication and printer setup. You can adjust these settings after you install the system, if you need to.

Btrfs and file system snapshots
OpenSUSE uses the new Btrfs file system by default. If you prefer another Linux distribution, it will probably start using Btrfs soon, too. It's clear that this is the future file system that will replace ext4, so the only question is when it's stable enough for Linux distributions to flip the switch. OpenSUSE has decided the time is now.

Btrfs is sometimes pronounced "better FS," and that's what it is. It's faster, more robust, and more modern. One of its most interesting features is the ability to create file system snapshots. OpenSUSE uses this to great effect, providing a boot menu option that allows you to boot straight into those previous snapshots via the "Snapper" tool. This is great for recovering from system problems, as it allows you to boot straight into an older file system state before corruption and other problems occurred.

 

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