openSUSE 13.1 vs Ubuntu 13.10: a friendly match


Ubuntu is one of the most popular GNU/Linux-based operating system, along with Linux Mint. Ubuntu started off as a great operating system which, with the help of LUGs and communities, became extremely popular.

However it’s not an easy task to crack the desktop market dominated by Microsoft – that’s one of the reasons why both SUSE/Novell and Red Hat decided to leave the desktop space and focus on enterprise.

Canonical started off in the same year when Facebook started and is still struggling to get a hold of the market.

The decline of PC sales forced the company to look at the other booming markets – mainly smartphones and tablets. But the company started off too late. Android is already established as a dominant Linux player in the mobile space, making it even harder for Canonical to succeed – especially when they don’t have any concrete plans and most of what they are doing is improvisation instead of initiation.

With the increasing focus on mobile has put desktop at the back-burner. Most of the talk and development is going on for mobile devices.

So from what I see desktop is no more Canonical’s priority.

At the same time Canonical/Ubuntu has been a lot in news for all the wrong reasons. It’s dispute with EFF, FSF,, KDE and the larger open source community has also raised serious concerns over it’s role as a good open source citizen.

So I am noticing quite a lot of people who have started to look else where. Being a convert from Ubuntu to openSUSE I tasked myself to find can an Ubuntu user switch to openSUSE? Will openSUSE be able to address his/her computing needs? At the same time I am someone using GNU/Linux for practical as well as philosophical reasons as well which distro is closer to the Open Source community?

I have adopted Devil’s advocate approach to challenge openSUSE at doing the tasks that Ubuntu can do well and which one is better open source citizen.

Ease of use

Gnome was one of the reasons it was extremely easy to use Ubuntu, then Canonical did some great job with jockey and other stuff which made it easy to use Linux. A concept popularized by Klaus Knopper – Live CD – also contributed to this as people were able to test it before trying. But it’s passe today every GNU/Linux distribution out there is easy to install and use.

Ease of use heavily depends on what Desktop Environment you use. But if we look at the core openSUSE experience everything is extremely easy whether it’s setting up network, configuring printer, installing or managing apps or customizing the OS to your liking.

openSUSE 1 Ubuntu 1

The installation of openSUSE is as easy as is that of Ubuntu (you can see the comparison in this video – coming soon).

Better experience with desktop environment of choice

openSUSE offers GNOME, KDE, Xfce, LXDE & E17 so one can use which ever desktop environment (DE) he/she prefers. As far as base OS is concerned irrespective of the DE you use you will have access to all core features of openSUSE – whether it be YaST or anything else. In case of Ubuntu, Unity is Canonical’s baby and none of it’s features are available for other Ubuntu-based distros. openSUSE treats each DE as the first class citizen and here you can install different DEs on the same system without breaking it. Under Ubuntu Unity and Gnome don’t work very well together. With KDE apps like Ubuntu Software Center look out of place and instead of a pleasant experience it looks more or less like a Frankenstein’s monster which pieces have been stitched together.

So here openSUSE has better offering than Ubuntu

openSUSE 1 Ubuntu 0


    OK, article but my experience with Linux has been one that works for a few months and then crashes. since i multi-boot with it, it leaves me with a repair for all my other OS’s and then I don’t have Linux anymore. So for me – since I’m not that much of a Linux expert – it’s more about stability an recovery than the bells and whistles. SUSE is much more flexible in terms of customizations, but crashes after a time. But so do all the others I’ve tried. It’s been a few years since I’ve tried Linux and it would just be good to know which one is the most worthy of another try for a nube.

  • Russell Stone

    Hi. yes I’m one of the users that likes Linux because it’s free, but its the style of the linux that drives me to want to be a user of it.The members both large and small who have given so much of their time and money have built something great. I also support AMD, I see Linux and AMD as a role model against the giants that can get people who were blinded by hypocrisy and almost won and that is why I am a Linux and AMD lifer. Not because I can contribute (I’m thick) but as a number, an extra drop in the ocean against the the giants who try and push things their way at great cost.

  • Clate

    I know this article is old but this article is pretty biased imo. Comparing the Opensuse community to the Ubuntu community is a joke. The Ubuntu community is WAY WAY bigger and most problems you google for chances are the article you find to help you is going to be on ubuntuforums……

  • Thank you for the article. I found it very informative.

    I am new to Linux. I only started trying it about a month ago and have tried Fedora, Mint, Mate, Kubuntu, and since yesterday, opensuse. I had settled on Ubuntu as I jettisoned Windows and needed something stable as a Base OS and because Ubuntu is straightforward to set up and use. But I find it slow. I have a core i5 and 12 GB RAM yet launching apps still takes at least 5 seconds.

    I’m running opensuse in virtual box and was impressed with its speed and the Yast installer. I was able to easily install the cinnamon desktop and to my eyes the graphics look clearer than on Ubuntu. And although it’s running on a VM on Ubuntu, it seems to run faster than Ubuntu.

    I also was very interested to know the philosophical differences between the two and your article really helped me understand those. I really endorse the free and open nature of Linux so want a distro that does the same. Sounds like I’ll be dumping Ubuntu for opensuse because they sound draconian and closed.

    One question I have is, does opensuse run well on AMD hardware because of AMD sponsorship? I read recently on Richard Stallman’s blog that Intel chips have a secret chip inside them which can be used to turn on and control the pc remotely by NSA etc. and therefore am considering selling my laptop for an AMD powered one.