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Testing openSUSE early

Testing openSUSE at an early stage (for example before any Build be available) is not that easy... to be explained here.

Installing Factory

In very early stage, chance is no "iso" is available that is able to boot and install. Iso's are always available here, but these isos are often buggy and one can't install from them.

So all you have to do is install the previous version (this is written in May 2011, so the last version is 11.4 and future one is 12.1). The very simple one is enough, that is the "minimal server" one, the faster to be installable.

One can always use VirtualBox to install Factory, but it's much better if you can afford to install to true hardware. Second hand computers are opretty cheap, nowaday, often free :-). For this time I use a HP/Compaq DC 7100 SFF computer, boosted to 1Gb ram and in my case with two hard drives, one 40Gb (the original one) and an other of 500 Gb.

I have a lot of Operating Systems on this one, not bad to test.

so, use a dvd reader and install from any openSUSE usual medium. Then you will be let alone with a minimal system. Of course first, eventually debug the boot process. This very computer have some boot problems, so I had to be very cautious for the debugging.

Booting openSUSE

The openSUSE grub (grub 1 also called legacy grub) install is done on that way:

  • if openSUSE is installed on a primary partition grub is installed on this one;
  • if openSUSE is installed is any logical partition, grub is installed on the extended partition (it's not possible for this system to be installed on a logical partition);
  • the MBR is written with a "standard" one (standard mean Windows one) and the boot flage set to the grub install.

With this system, if you have to install/reinstall Windows on your computer, you just have to reset the boot flag to have your grub boot again. The problem is that if you have an other Linux distro, or installed your openSUSE on the MBR you erase your install.

So, the best way if you have already an installed Linux is to let this install alone. This may not be as easy as it seems. You have to know where your present grub is installed.

If you are not sure, a good way to do this in your old installed openSUSE, not in the new one is to run "updategrub -l". updategrub is a very clever script from an openSUSE forums user (please_try_again). Copmments on the script are here and you can get the script from OBS ("get it" on the main page, search for updategrub, but with the optional "include home project").

This script will list (option "-l") te entries updategrub think it needs to add in /boot/grub/menu.lst. You have to look at this (menu.lst) file to figure out where are located the grub entries.

If your new install is on a logical partition and your running old install is also in a logical partition, you are in trouble! You can't have two grubs in the same extended partition first sector! You have either to trust your new install or to find some free primary partition to hold grub. Nothing I can do to prevent this :-(.

That said, once choosen the grub place, if you untick the option "set the boot flag" (find it is one of the options menu), you will still boot your old install. It's easier to fix the old one than the new if there is any difficulty, the old one is probably debugged already, and there you can use updategrub of fix manually.

Finally installing Factory

To test early, you have to install Factory as only repository. From a minimal install (or any root terminal), use zypper.

Be warned that minimal is really minimalo, you wont have even vi! "zypper in vim" is probably a good idea :-).

Anyway you first have to see what repositories are installed:

 zypper lr #list repos

You notice the repositories are numbered (left column). so

 zypper rr 1  #remove repo one

will remove the first listed one. But the same line, repeated, remove the new repo one (was repo two before), so repeating this line removes all the repos. There is probably a more simple command, but I didn't manage to find it.

Then you have to add the Factory repository. The openSUSE wiki say "", but it's wrong. This folder only hold the true repositories. so what you have to type is:

 zypper ar # adding repo

The true repos available are oss and non-oss (plus the source ones and debug one). In My Humble Opinion (IMHO), only the first is necessary for the first test (after that, of course, you will need the others).

Then do:

 zypper dup # dist upgrade, that is change distribution

If all goes well, try to reboot and pray :-)).

Adding Kde

Kde have a pattern. Better load YaST and choose kde in the pattern list. If yast don't start, try "zypper up" if this fail, open a bug in bugzilla.

 zypper search -t pattern

gives you the list of available patterns. You should have kde4 in it

 zypper in -t pattern kde4

Should install all what is default in Kde4. You have then to tray "startx" as root then user. If all works, try "init 5". At last you can change 3 by 5 in /etc/inittab to boot with kde.