openSUSE: Everything You Need to Know About the Green Linux Lizard

openSUSE is a popular Linux distribution developed by the community-supported openSUSE Project. Learn all about it in this article.

The openSUSE project is a community program sponsored by SUSE Software Solutions Germany GmbH and several other companies and individuals. Promoting the use of Linux everywhere, this program provides free, easy access to openSUSE, a complete Linux distribution.

The History of openSUSE

openSUSE history began in Germany in 1992 when four Linux enthusiasts set up a small company. Its name at its founding was “S.u.S.E.,” the German acronym for “Software und System-Entwicklung” which means “Software and systems development” in English.

However, the full name has never been used. Instead, “S.u.S.E.” was shortened to “SuSE” in October 1998 and stylized “SUSE” in 2003.

The company started as a service provider, regularly releasing software packages for Slackware, printing UNIX and Linux manuals, and offering technical assistance.

The first version of SUSE Linux, S.u.S.E. Linux 1.0, was released in 1994. It was Slackware scripts translated into German. In other words, it was a German version of Slackware Linux.

After that, in 1996, the first distribution under the name S.u.S.E. Linux was published as S.u.S.E. Linux 4.2, a reference to number 42, the answer to “The Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything” from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

SuSE then adopted a system of packaging with RPM format, followed by the launch of a graphical system administration tool YaST which became one of the backbone and advantages of the SuSE Linux until today.

To reach its business audience more effectively, SuSE introduced the SUSE Linux Enterprise Server in 2001, and a few months before Novell’s purchase changed the company name to SUSE Linux. SUSE is now a name, not an acronym. The official logo and mascot of SUSE is a chameleon officially named “Geeko.”

In January 2004, Novell acquired SuSE Linux AG for $210 million.

On August 4, 2005, Novell announced that the SUSE Professional series would become more open with the launch of the openSUSE Project community.

The software always had been open source, but openSUSE opened the development process, allowing developers and users to test and develop it. Previously, all development work had been accomplished in-house by SUSE.

openSUSE Leap 15.3

openSUSE Flavors

In 2015, the openSUSE project was restructured, creating two versions Leap and Tumbleweed. Tumbleweed is a rolling release, so users always have access to the newest Linux packages. Leap is openSUSE’s regular release, with guaranteed stability.

openSUSE flavors

What is the Difference Between openSUSE Tumbleweed and Leap?

The openSUSE Tumbleweed distribution is the rolling release version of openSUSE containing the newest stable applications. It is popular for power users and software developers who need to develop using the latest software stacks and IDEs.

Users of the Tumbleweed distro need to have advanced skills. It’s just like Arch Linux and the other rolling distributions. You get the software as soon as it is ready in the repositories.

For experienced and adventurous GNU/Linux users who want to take risks with their operating system and live on the bleeding edge, openSUSE Tumbleweed is the right choice.

Related: What is a Rolling Release Linux and What is the Real Benefit of Using it

The openSUSE Leap is more stable and only uses the well-tested base of SUSE Linux Enterprise (SLE). This means enterprises or data centers running crucial applications that need the operating system’s reliability; can go for OpenSUSE Leap.

With the SUSE Linux Enterprise 15 SP3 release, SLE and openSUSE Leap become more like twins instead of siblings. Leap was based on SLE until then but was more of an upstream version.

Now the two distros share the same binary code, with the only difference being that some copyright notices and branding have been removed from Leap.

In other words, this makes the openSUSE Leap a free drop-in replacement for SUSE Linux Enterprise.

Related: openSUSE Leap vs. Tumbleweed, Difference Between Them Explained

The openSUSE project creates both Tumbleweed and Leap. It is part of the worldwide free and open-source software community.

Package Management

In the Linux distribution world, native software comes packaged. For example, RPM, which are pre-compiled archives, is created by Red Hat Linux. Many Linux distributions use it as their packaging system nowadays, including openSUSE.

YaST is the key differentiator for openSUSE compared to other Linux distros. It is an installation and configuration tool for openSUSE and the SUSE Linux Enterprise distributions.

YaST is popular for its easy use and attractive graphical interface. On top of that, it can customize your system quickly during and after the installation.

YaST stands for “Yet another Setup Tool.” It can be used to configure your entire system. For example, set up hardware, configure the network and system services, and tune your security settings. All these tasks can be reached from the YaST Control Center.

Currently, there are around 80 different modules for YaST, which allow you to configure software management, containers, services, kernels, servers, hardware, and more.

The idea of providing a complete graphical solution to manage all the system aspects from A to Z in a Linux distribution doesn’t seem to exist anywhere else other than in openSUSE.

Zypper is a command-line package manager in openSUSE. Zypper provides functions like repository access, dependency solving, package installation, etc. Like DNF, APT, and Pacman, Zypper can handle any ordinary package management task like installing, removing, and updating packages.

Btrfs Filesystem

Btrfs is the default filesystem in openSUSE. It’s a copy-on-write filesystem. One of its main features is the ability to take snapshots of files stored on your hard disk to be able to restore them later. Snapshots allow you to easily roll back your system if needed after applying updates or backup files.

For example, run a system upgrade using a Zypper, and something breaks, and you no longer can enter your system. You can quickly go back to the previous system state before the upgrading process occurs.

Related: Linux File System Types Explained, Which One Should You Use


There are a lot of features that make openSUSE a remarkable Linux distribution. openSUSE is a very capable multi-purpose distro, with a stable, reliable, rock-solid release (Leap), a rolling release (Tumbleweed) for those who prefer the bleeding edge software packages.

There are options for most of the popular desktop environments not limited to but including KDE, GNOME, and Xfce. It is perfect as a desktop OS, and will effectively serve your server needs.

Bobby Borisov

Bobby Borisov

Bobby, an editor-in-chief at Linuxiac, is a Linux professional with over 20 years of experience. With a strong focus on Linux and open-source software, he has worked as a Senior Linux System Administrator, Software Developer, and DevOps Engineer for small and large multinational companies.

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