Installing both Gnome and KDE

•22 Jun 2008 • 5 Comments

Switching between Gnome and KDE

Tutorial Level: Intermediate

One of the best aspects of OpenSUSE is by far choice: the ability to choose all new settings for each person that uses the operating system. OpenSUSE 11.0 highlighted this even further with the release of new versions of Gnome and KDE. Gnome 2.22 added creative new features such as the weather and temperature display in the system clock. KDE4 is a whole new kettle of fish, with complete overhauls on many of the features familiar with KDE. With cool new features in both desktop environments, it can become difficult to choose which to install and use. Good news: You can install and switch between them when you login! This tutorial will become extensive at times, but will focus on the software aspect of the installation of OpenSUSE 11.0. Be sure that you have planned out any chances you wish to make in the installation ahead of time, and be sure to change those settings at any time in the installation as this tutorial will not include instructions to do so.

Refer to OpenSUSE 11.0 DVD Installation for a visual guide

Installation with OpenSUSE DVD

Before performing installation, save all important information to an outside source, such as a CD/DVD or flash drive. All information will be lost on an old system during installation.

First we must boot from the OpenSUSE 11.0 DVD. To do this, place the DVD in your drive, and restart your computer. One of the first screens you will see is the BIOS screen. It will most likely have a large company logo across it. There should be a message across the bottom of the screen that tells you to press a specific key for more options. Press this key and if there is a subsequent menu, choose BIOS settings. Now the BIOS screen will appear with all the system configuration options for your computer. Use the arrow keys to move to the Boot tab. Once in that tab, there will be a list of boot priorities. Hit enter on the first slot and select your CD/DVD drive. Now move to the Exit tab and save the changes. Now exit and your computer will restart.

Once your computer restarts, you should see a welcome screen and then a options screen. The second option will be Installation. Use the mouse keys to put the selector over this option and hit enter. Wait a few moments for the Kernel to load. This may take anywhere from a few seconds to a minute or so. Once the kernel loads, you will be presented with the installation screen.

The first screen will be the language settings. Set your language for OpenSUSE and your keyboard to the language you wish to use. This page will also have a license agreement. Once you have finished reading the license, check the I Agree box. You can also see the license in a dialogue box. Once you have entered the settings to your liking and have agreed to the license, click the Next button. The next screen that will appear is the System Analysis. This will just scan your computer for hardware and devices. It may take some time, but it requires no work on your part.

The next screen will allow you to select the type of installation you want to perform. For this tutorial, and suggested in almost all cases, we will choose New Installation. After you hit the Next button, you will be able to choose your timezone. You can either use the world map, or use the dropdowns to set your time. After you have the correct time, hit the Next button again.

The next screen is the first step in allowing you to use both Gnome and KDE4. Select the desktop environment you wish to be your primary environment (that will load on default when you login). As OpenSUSE states, it is a matter of personal preference, and I can’t really give a recommendation. But keep in mind that you will be able to use both, it is just a matter of choosing which will load on default.

Once you have chosen your primary environment, hit the Next button and you will be brought to the partition screen. If you already have OpenSUSE installed and are either updating or reinstalling, refer to Installing over Existing Partitions for further information on this topic. If all the suggested settings, or the personally corrected settings match what you are looking for, hit the Next button.

Now you can create your first user: you! Enter your full name, and OpenSUSE will suggest a username (your first name in lower case letters). Next, enter your password and reenter it in the confirm field. Below, there will be three check boxes. If you want your root password be the same as the password your just entered, keep the Use this password for system administrator box checked. Next, if you are the main user on your system, I would suggest checking the Receive System Mail, although it is not required. The Automatic Login box leave UNCHECKED. Automatically logging in will require an extra step when switching between desktop environments. The default summary settings can be left alone, unless you are sure of what you want to change. Hit the Next button when you are finished.

The Installation Overview page is the one we need to work with. Wait for the installation settings to load. Once all the items have fully loaded, either click on the Software header in bold, or click on the Change… button, and then select Software…. Now you will see a screen with all the software patterns you can install. If you have selected KDE4 as your main desktop environment, find the package: Gnome Desktop Environment and check the box next to it. Notice that the Gnome Base System will automatically be checked as well. This is what we want, so please DO NOT uncheck this box. Now, if you have chosen Gnome as the main desktop, find KDE4 Desktop Environment and check the box, which will also check KDE4 Base System. You can also install KDE3 Desktop Environment and KDE3 Base System if you want as well to have three choices.

Once you have selected the correct packages, click the OK button. Now you will return to the overview page and it will refresh. If you like the settings that are there and are sure you have looked over everything in detail, click the Install button. You will be asked to confirm this action. Once you accept, the installation will start. It may take some time to complete the installation. You can either walk away and wait until the installation is complete, or you can enjoy the OpenSUSE slide-show.

Once you have completed the installation, your computer will restart and YaST will automatically configure some hardware and network connections and settings. Once this is done, you will be ready to login for the first time: Congratulations! You have successfully installed OpenSUSE 11.0!

(After you login for the first time, be sure to configure your graphics card settings. See Installing your Graphics Card Drivers for a walkthrough of this. Note that you may have to change your boot options again in your BIOS back to the hard-drive, or the installer will boot the next time the computer restarts.)

Switch between Desktop Environments

Switching between desktop environments is actually quite easy. When you are presented with the login page with the username field, on the bottom-left of the screen, there will be a link called Sessions. Click this link, and a prompt will appear. It will automatically be set to the last session you used, but you can choose KDE4 or Gnome (as well as KDE3 if you decided to install it) to run if you are currently running the other. Just remember that you have to switch back to your primary DE (Desktop Environment) after using another.

Installation through Package Manager

You can also install a new DE through YaST after you have installed OpenSUSE. To do this, open the YaST package manager and wait for the repository to load (which only takes a mere seconds). Once the manager loads, set the dropdown on the bottom-left from Groups to Patterns. Now scroll down on the left panel to Graphical Environment. There you will find all the DEs available in your current version of OpenSUSE. Click on the one you want to install and click the Install button. All dependencies will be installed as well, just as in the case of the complete installation above.

The last and most important thing to remember is to have fun and experiment with your OpenSUSE system. Don’t be afraid to try new environments to find which you suits you or fits you best.

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Installing over Existing Partitions

•22 Jun 2008 • 1 Comment

Installing OpenSUSE over another OpenSUSE system

Tutorial Level: Intermediate

OpenSUSE allows for great flexibility during its installation. Many people who install OpenSUSE, especially with the release of version 11.0, already have OpenSUSE installed. Others may want to reinstall OpenSUSE to format their partitions. The great thing is that OpenSUSE allows you to install over an existing partition. During the installation, you can change the settings to format these partitions and install a clean version of OpenSUSE. Please keep in mind that this tutorial is not meant to walk you through the installation, but to focus on the partitioning section of the installation.

Refer to Installing both Gnome and KDE for further installation information.

Formatting and Installing a Partition

Once you have begun the installation, you will come to the section: Disk. This is where the information on your current partitions are located and where changes can be made. YaST will present you with a suggestion for installing OpenSUSE, but most likely this will not include the options we are looking for. Note that we will be formatting the partition and keeping the same amount of space allocated for each, not deleting and changing the partition size. To being changing the partition setup, click the Edit Partition Setup… button.

This will bring you to a screen with all of the current partitions. At the bottom of the list, there will be three partitions with the names…

  • swap
  • /
  • /home

Click the swap partition, and click the Edit button in the button group at the lower side of the screen. Now a prompt will appear with two radio buttons (the circle with the dot) on it. Click the second box that says Format. Now, do this again to the / and /home partitions and hit the OK button. Now all of these partitions are slated to be formated (and will appear in red on the Disk screen and the Installation Overview) and then have the new swap, /, and /home partitions written over it for the new OpenSUSE system.

Browsing with Nautilus

•19 Jun 2008 • Leave a Comment

Using Nautilus File Browser

Tutorial Level: Extensive

Gnome’s Nautilus file browser has be overlooked as a less powerful alternative to its counterpart in Konqueror or Krusader. Although Nautilus does not have all the features of the KDE file browsers, it does not mean that Nautilus should be overlooked. On the contrary, it is a great tool when browsing through system files and personal folders. Because of it’s great usage, Gnome has adopted Nautilus as its default file browser and continues to work to improve the program. Now that we have a background to the program, let’s begin looking through the many aspects of this file browser.

Finding your way Around

File browsers such as Konqueror are great for their purpose and come with extras, such as doubling as an internet browser, but Nautilus has stuck to its main purpose: file browsing. It’s interface reflects this purpose, making finding important files convenient and easy. First, let’s open a Nautilus window: press Alt+F2 and type nautilus to find the application. Now that we have the browser open, let’s breakdown the basic parts of the interface.

Let’s start with the Places sidebar. The default setting for this bar will show common places on your system at a glance, including your personal documents folder, media such as a CD or DVD in your drive, links on your desktop, File System, the trash bin and others. The great part about this bar is that you can add your own folders to this list.

To do this, click a folder or file, click the Bookmarks tab at the top of the browser and click Add Bookmark. You can also click the file or folder and then press Ctrl+D to easily add a bookmark. Once you bookmark a location, it will appear in the left sidebar and if you double-click it, Nautilus will load the contents of the folder or open a specified program such as OpenOffice or Gedit for documents and files.

The great part about the program is customization. If you rather not have your common places in the sidebar, not a problem, you can change this with a few clicks. If you click on the Places button at the top of the sidebar, you will have the option to show the following besides Places…

  • Information: This option will give a basic overview of the current directory or folder. It will show the number of files, last edit date and contain a link to open the folder in a separate Nautilus window.
  • Tree: The tree format will list the directories and folder on your system in a expand and collapse format. This is great for seeing the parent location while viewing files.
  • History: This format will show the most recent locations you have visited in a fashion similar to the list in the Place sidebar. Great for finding files you may have forgotten about in the last few days.
  • Notes: Add notes about your folder or file for future reference.
  • Emblems: They say a picture can tell a thousand words. Drag an emblem to a folder to add a graphic caption to the folder, such as a heart for a favorite folder or exclamation point for an important directory.

Now that we’ve seen the sidebar, let’s look at the Location Bar that runs across the top of the file pane. This shows the location you are currently in and the parent folders to the left. If you delve into a long list of directories, Nautilus will abbreviate the list with a simple left arrow. Click this arrow to expand the list and see a complete heading of the parent folders.

The Main Toolbar has buttons for easy access to common tasks such as back, forward, reload, the Home and Computer directories and search. If you click the search button, your status bar will be replaced by a search field. The last panel is the Status Bar that shows miscellaneous information, such as space left in a directory, number of items in a directory and much more. To hide any of these panels, click the View tab at the top of the browser and uncheck any of the boxes in the second section.

The Main Panel

Now that we are familiar with the extra panels that surround the main panel, we’ll focus on the heart of the Nautilus browser: the file pane. The basic functions of this panel as similar to that of a Windows browser: double-click to open a file or view a directory. But it wouldn’t be OpenSUSE if it didn’t go one step further. If you right click on a file or folder, you can open the location in a new window of with an appropriate text editor, cut, copy, paste into a folder, trash the item, encrypt…the options are numerous. If you right click on a folder or directory, you can even open the location in a terminal window.

You can also view the properties of an item in the right click menu. This prompt you with a panel that shows much of the information that was available in the sidebar, as well as sharing options and the default program to open this item. You can also change how you view the items in a directory: as a list or in icon format. The icon format is similar to that of the Windows file browser, and the list view gives you a better view of folder and file information at a quick glance. Examples: Icon view, List view.

As you can see in the images, the list view gives a bit more information than the icon view and gives the option of a tree view (with the arrow icon) if needed. To switch the view in the current directory, click the View tab and select your view on the last section of the dropdown. You can perminately set the view with Edit -> Preferences and setting the default view in the first option on the prompt.

Customizing the Browser

One of the most important parts of Nautilus is the customization and flexibility it allows. Above is only one example of the changes you can make to fit your liking. There are almost endless number of combinitations that are available. Since we could not possibily describe everyone of them in this tutorial, we’ll cover the major changes you can make to make file surfing as easy as possible.

First, we need to open the preferences prompt again. To do this, if you have not already, click the Edit tab and click the last option on the the menu (Preferences). The first options shown are for the viewing options. Here, you can change how items are arranged and to show hidden files if you need. There are also options for the zoom size in different instances. The zoom size will either make the icons or list information smaller or bigger, depending on the preferences you set.

If you click on the Behavior Tab on the top of the prompt, there will be options for how and when to open items, and the options pertaining to the trash bin. The next tab, the Display tab, had options for the appearence of items in the icon or list view. Here, you can set what will be shown and the format of dates in Nautilus. The List Columns tab had options for what information to display in the list view. This includes the order of categories for files and folders. The last tab, Preivew, allows you to edit the preview information of Nautilus.

Because all the settings and options can be displayed in this tutorial, the best way to find new options and suit them to your liking is to try them yourself. There are many options that can be found when playing around with the application. An example would be the server options. If you click on the File tab, and then Connect to Server…, you can enter a server’s connection information and connect to that server. I hope this tutorial has taught you about the advantages and disadvantages of Nautilus file browser and gotten you more comfortable using the program.

Installing Firefox 3

•17 Jun 2008 • 1 Comment

Installing Firefox 3 on OpenSUSE

Tutorial Level: Beginner

Hands down one of the best and most reliable internet browser has been Firefox, and Firefox has become the default browser for OpenSUSE systems. After a long wait, Mozilla has finally delivered their newest version, Firefox 3. The great thing about this version is that it comes with a 1-click installer for OpenSUSE. With the release of OpenSUSE 11.0, many have decided (including myself) to upgrade; others have declined this offer. The great thing is that Firefox 3 can be easily installed on both versions of the latest OpenSUSE: 10.3 and 11.0. Below are the 1-click installs for both of the OpenSUSE versions.

Firefox 3 for OpenSUSE 11.0

Firefox 3 for OpenSUSE 10.3

Installing the Latest Version

Please note that the above links are for version 3.0-1.1 of Firefox and they may be updated in the future. To download the newest Firefox version directly through YaST, we must first add a new respository if it is not already added. To do this, open YaST for your application list or by typing yast into the applications runner (Alt+F2). Once there, scroll down to the software category, and click Software Repositories. Once there, click the Add button to add a new repository. Select HTTP… in the first prompt and then click next. For the repository name, set it to something like Mozilla or Mozilla Rep. For the server, set it to: download.opensuse.org. The directory on server will varry for your version…

OpenSUSE 11.0: /repositories/mozilla/openSUSE_11.0/

OpenSUSE 10.3: /repositories/mozilla/openSUSE_10.3/

Once done, click Next to refresh the repository and then the process will be complete. Now, open Software Management under YaST. Wait a few moments for the repositories to load and a list of installable software will appear. Type firefox into the search field and in the left column, the latest version of Firefox should appear. If you already have Firefox installed, the button in the middle should say upgrade, otherwise, it will say install. Click the upgrade/install button and then hit next to download and install the package. Once it is complete, exit YaST. Close all your Firefox applications, and open a new Firefox browser. You will likely be presented with a list of add-ons that may not be compatible and a license agreement. Read through the agreement if you wish and then select agree. Now Firefox will have a new look and new features. To view the new features of Firefox 3, view the following link…

Newest Firefox Features

Now you have the latest version of Firefox installed on your system and are ready to view the internet. To see all the newest information about Firefox and to customize new add-ons to your browser, view the Firefox home page.

Loading Programs on Startup

•17 Jun 2008 • Leave a Comment

Starting a program on Startup

Tutorial Level: Beginner

Loading a program when your operating system can be important for security reasons, be essential to a server or simply convenient to the average user. Whatever your needs, automatically starting a program when you load your operating system is a great tool for all users. In OpenSUSE, these programs are loaded through what are called sessions. These sessions are the same thing that load a specific desktop environment, such as Gnome or KDE, when you boot into OpenSUSE. Now that you know the background to sessions, let’s create some of our own.

Creating a Session

Creating a session of our own is actually quick simple thanks to the layout of OpenSUSE. First, find your Control Panel. Due to the fact that Gnome and KDE have their control centers in different locations, one of the best ways to load the correct control panel is hit Alt+F2 and to type control. This should narrow down the search to a handful of choices. Pick the choice labeled either Control Center or Control Panel. Once you find the proper program, hit the Run button to load the panel.

Now that the panel is loaded, we’ll give the search field a bit of use. Type into the field: sessions. Click the option labeled Sessions under the system category. Now, a new window will appear with all the sessions that run when you login to your username in OpenSUSE. Let’s create a new session to start the instant messenger, Pidgin. First, click the button labeled + Add. For this example, make the name Pidgin and the comment Instant Message Client. The command line has the option either to load a location or a command from the terminal. For the instant messenger example, type pidgin as the command and then hit the OK button. Now, the next time you login with your username for OpenSUSE, pidgin will start.

Other Options

There are also other functions that you can perform in the Session manager. The Startup Programs tab, that we were in when we created the new session above, shows all other the applications and commands that initiate when you login in OpenSUSE. Many of these are default programs and important to OpenSUSE, so be careful which sessions you remove. The Current Session tab shows all of the sessions that are currently running as you read this. This is useful when trying to find what is running behind the scenes. The Session Options has the option (surprising, I know) automatically remember what sessions are running when you logout so they can automatically load when you log back in. There is also a button to remember the current applications running for when you logout. As stated before, sessions are an important part of OpenSUSE, but be careful about removing sessions or changing the currently running sessions as it may cause problems with your system.

Installing your Graphics Card Drivers

•15 Jun 2008 • 2 Comments

Installing Nvidia & ATI Graphics Drivers

Tutorial Level: Beginner

One of the first things that a new user must do when installing OpenSUSE on their computer is installing and configuring graphics card drivers. Most users use either Nvidia or ATI products, and fortunately for OpenSUSE users, there are 1-click installers available for both of these graphics cards. Although there are packaged drivers that are available directly from Nvidia or ATI, the 1-click install is much easier and easily updated by your machine. So now that you got the rundown on graphic drivers, let’s find which one is for you.

Finding your Driver

Before you can install your drivers, you first need to find which driver you need for your machine. If you do not already know which graphic card you are using, open a terminal, issue the command su and enter your root password when prompted to gain root permissions, and enter the following command…

hwinfo –gfxcard

Look for Model and Vendor to find the version of your graphic card and the creator respectively. Now that you know which vendor to use, refer to the following pages for your graphic card driver…

Nvidia Drivers

ATI Drivers

For Nvidia drivers, be sure to check if you are to use normal drivers or latency driver. The list of latency drivers can be found here. For ATI drivers, check which version you want to install and which you think would run better for you. If you are unsure, simply choose the lastest driver. Now that you know which driver to install, we need to install and configure the driver.

Installation and Configuration

Installing the driver very simple. Click the button for the 1-click install of the driver you choose, and follow the step-by-step walkthrough of installing the packages. This should only take a few minutes and simply involve clicking accept buttons. Once you have the drivers installed, reboot. Next, we need to configure the drivers to work with your machine. To do this, open a terminal window and run the command sax2 -r. This will bring up a window that has your graphics card and monitor information. If all the settings match what you want, click accept. If your screen is positioned incorrectly, hit the Test button and use the arrow buttons on the screen to move your screen to the proper location. Once all the settings check out for you, click the accept button.

The changes you have made will not take effect until you reload your graphics settings. You can either restart your computer, or reload your X-Server. To reload the X-Server, open a terminal window and login as a root user with su. Once you enter the root password and become a SuperUser, type init 3. This will send you to the command line terminal. If you are not already logged in, enter your username and password. Then type startx to reload the graphic interface. Now the settings you entered in Sax2 and the driver settings will take effect.

Text-only Installation

Installing your graphics card driver through the text-only command line interface (CLI) is very similar to the graphic interface method. First, you need to get into the CLI if you are not already there. You can simply hit Ctrl+Alt+Backspace or use the terminal method. Open a terminal window and type su to become a SuperUser. Enter your root password and then enter init 3 to view the CLI. In the command line, enter your username and password. Once you login, enter su and the root password again. Next, enter yast2 to load YaST (Yet another System Tool). Next, use the arrow keys to hover over Software Management (right, down) and then hit enter. Once the repositories load, hit F2 to search. Enter the following into the field depending on your driver…

Nvidia: x11-video-nvidiaG01

Nvidia Latency: x11-video-nvidia

ATI (newest and latency): x11-video-fglrxG01

Once you have found your driver, hit enter to slate it for installation and then hit F10. Confirm the installation if prompted, and then wait for the package to download and install. Once the installation is complete, hit F9 to exit YaST. Reboot your system, and then boot back into the CLI. After closing YaST, enter sax2 -r and configure your graphic settings, including screen position and resolution (see Installation and Configuration above for further details). Lastly, enter exit to logout of the root permissions, and then enter startx to load the graphic user interface.

Finding a Program Files Folder

•15 Jun 2008 • Leave a Comment

Finding a folder in Program Files

Tutorial Level: Beginner

One of the common problems when playing a game with Wine is finding the location of the game file and what folder it lies in the C:/Program Files directory. To start, I’m going to assume you have already installed Wine, knowing how to start a Wine program, or have seen the Installing and Using Wine tutorial. Because the wine command needs the path for the program or game to start it. This tutorial will show you two ways to find the folder and file that the game requires in path to start.

Using Konqueror

Konqueror is a very powerful program for viewing directories and files. If you are using KDE, chances are you already have this program installed, and have used it before. If you are using Gnome, most likely YaST has installed kdebase3 or kdebase4 during the installation of OpenSUSE. From this point, since the KDE base packages are an essential part of an OpenSUSE system, that Konqueror is already installed. To open Konqueror, hit Aft+F2 and type Konqueror to open the program. Once the program appears, click the Home Folder link (with the house next to it). This will bring you to your /home folder. To view your program files, enter into the top address bar…

~/.wine/drive_c/Program\ Files

This will bring you to your Program Files folder. This is where you will you find all the folders in your Program Files directory. Now you can view the files in a folder too, also finding the file that will initiate the program you are look to start. To do this through Konqueror itself, and bypass using a terminal, right click on the file you want to start in Wine. In the drop down, there will be a option to Open With. Mouseover and click Other…. When a new window appears, enter wine into the text field. If you want the program to have its own shell running with the program (similar to if you started the program from the terminal), check the box that says: Run in terminal. Now the program will start, and save you the step of opening the terminal. Using the graphical way is for most the more comfortable way to view files, but it is not always the best, because sometimes files are hidden do to permissions. Sometimes the only way (and possibly the best) is to use the terminal.

Using the Terminal

Although using a terminal does not have the visual effects of a file browser like Konqueror, it is a very powerful tool to use when trying to find a file or directory. To do this, open a terminal window and login as a SuperUser by typing the command su and then enter the root password. The following two steps can be done as one, but by doing it in two steps, you can be kept in the directory, rather than having to reenter the path of the Program Files every time you use a command. So, first, let’s get into the directory by typing…

cd ~/.wine/drive_c/Program\ Files

Now we are in C:/Program Files. To view the contents of this directory, type…

dir

…Or…

ls -l

Note the second command contains two Ls (Legend) not two capital Is (Interview). Both will give you the same output. This will now show you the folders in the C:/Program Files directory. Now that you know the folder, you can find the file you are looking for by using cd. To do this, type…

cd folder

Replace folder with the folder you want to view. Note: do not add an slashes to the folder name, because doing this will not put you into C:/Program Files/folder, it will put you into plain /folder. Now that you are in the folder you want to be, type the dir command again. This will show you the contents of this folder. Now that you have folder the locations of the folder and file of the program, you can completely fill out the wine command and start the program you want to.