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openSUSE 10.3 Configuration Guide

Creative Commons LogoThis work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial 2.0 UK: England & Wales Licence. This means that you are free to: copy; distribute; and modify this work. It also means that you cannot use it for commercial purposes. Additionally, you must attribute this work to the original author, Thomas Guymer, ideally with a link.


There is an updated version of this guide for openSUSE 11.1 and KDE 4.1, so please check out my openSUSE 11.1 Guide instead. Thank you!

openSUSE LogoThis guide was compiled after installing openSUSE a few times. Its purpose is so that I don't miss anything on my next installation when compared to the previous one. As such, this guide may contain things which you personally do not wish to do - so don't follow it blindly. If you wish you may download this tutorial as a PDF document.

KDE LogoWhen you download openSUSE try to make it the all-inclusive DVD version as this is more convenient in the future. Also, keep hold of the ISO file as we use it later on in the guide. This guide was written specifically for openSUSE 10.3 and KDE 3.5 - use it at your own risk. I have a little bit of experience with GNOME but I prefer to use KDE. If you prefer GNOME then this guide will not be very relevant for you. Also, I have not used KDE4 extensively yet so this guide isn't going to be relevant for that either. It is recommended that this guide is followed via LAN, not WLAN, as YaST can get a little temperamental if the connection is reset whilst downloading packages.

Notes on Installation

This guide does not cover the installation of openSUSE, it covers the customisation and configuration of a new, clean installation. You may wish to read the openSUSE 10.3 Installation Guide if you need help with the installation. I may include an Installation Guide in the future but so many things, such as partitioning, are down to personal preferences and specific hardware that it makes any guide hard to write for the general public. There are two exceptions to this, which are the following points...

Desktop Selection

I have already mentioned that I like to use KDE over GNOME. So, during installation when you get a screen like this:

YaST installation Desktop Selection screen shot sure to select 'KDE' ;)

Basic Patterns

During installation you will get a screen showing you what the installer will do to your system, it should look something like this:

YaST installation Pattern choice screen shot

You ought to change this list here and now. It is not essential to do it now but it's just easier. To change the list click on the 'Change' button at the bottom and select 'Software', like this:

YaST installation change Pattern choice screen shot

To add or remove a Pattern simply right click on it and choose what you want to do, like this:

YaST installation change Pattern screen shot

You ought to select the Patterns listed below. Some may already be ticked - no problem, just move onto the next item. Ones in italics are optional, do them if you think you'll need the software for your particular needs.

You should now have everything you need to have a decent basic installation. It's a good start.


You should now have a clean installation of openSUSE on your machine and you shouldn't have done anything to anything so you should have a new, untouched installation. Your desktop should therefore look identical to this:

A screen shot the basic desktop

If you've reached this far and your desktop looks like the screen shot above then you are ready to follow the rest of this guide.

Basic Setup and Installing Programs

This section will cover some basics on how to configure your system, such as software and services. Here we'll install all the software you may want along with configuring the Apache web server and a FTP server - if you want them. A little note: in the world of openSUSE a piece of software is called a package, so the following section concerns installing packages, not software.


Konsole Application IconIt's worth clarifying what 'Konsole' is. Konsole is a command line tool. It is very important and powerful, many of the notes on this tutorial ask you to use it. Most people are scared or apprehensive about using it for some reason, thinking it is too complicated or dangerous - it's really not.

There are loads of ways to open up a Konsole window. Perhaps the quickest is to press Alt-F2 then type Konsole and press Enter. The more graphical way is to open up the menu by clicking on the green lizard in the bottom left corner of your screen and then clicking 'Applications' → 'System' → 'Terminal' → 'Terminal Program (Konsole)'. A screen shot of a Konsole window is shown below.

A screen shot of a Konsole window

We just need to configure Konsole so that its history is unlimited. This means that if you type a command in the Konsole and it produces lines and lines of output you can still scroll up to the beginning to see what went wrong. So, open up a Konsole window (its icon looks like a black computer screen) and follow these instructions:

  1. Click 'Settings'
  2. Click 'History'
  3. Click 'Set Unlimited'
  4. Click 'OK'
  5. Click 'Settings'
  6. Click 'Save as Default'

Now close it down and we're ready to continue. Simple, eh?


YaST Application IconWe're going to use a program called YaST for the first time here so it's worth clarifying what 'YaST' is too. YaST is the main piece of software we'll use to change the configuration of the computer. A screen shot of YaST is shown below. It can be accessed by opening up the menu in the bottom left corner and going to 'Applications' → 'System' → 'Administrator Settings (YaST)'. Its icon is that of a spanner with a green circle.

A screen shot of YaST

To make things easier in the future it's best to give yourself administrator privileges by making your user a pseudo-root user. This means you'll no longer be asked for the root password when opening up YaST or typing certain commands in a Konsole window. This does, however, bring with it certain consequences as it means your username is inherently more powerful and can therefore do more damage to your system if you make a mistake. It is your choice if you decide to do this, if you don't then it just means you'll be asked for the root password every now and then. To do it you need to open up YaST and click 'Security and Users' → 'Sudo'. You should now be presented with a window like:

A screen shot of the YaST Sudo dialog

To continue:

  1. Click 'Add'
  2. Select your username under the 'User, Group or User Alias' drop-down box
  3. Select 'ALL' under 'Host or Host Alias'
  4. Select 'root' then under 'RunAs or RunAs Alias'
  5. Tick 'No Password'
  6. In 'Commands to Run' click 'Add' then select 'ALL' from the drop-down box.
  7. Click 'OK'
  8. Click 'OK' again
  9. Click 'Finish'

Extra Repositories

To get all the software you may want you'll need to add more repositories to your software catalogue. You'll need to add the following repositories to YaST. To add a repository open YaST and click 'Software Repositories'. The new program should look like this:

A screen shot of the YaST Repositories dialog

First, click on 'openSUSE-10.3-DVD 10.3' and un-tick 'Enabled' at the bottom. Now, if you've still got the DVD ISO you can add it instead of the actual DVD. This will save you having to stick the DVD into your drive all the time. To do this click 'Add' → 'Local ISO...' → 'Next' and now you can give it a name then select where you've kept the ISO. Now we can do the proper repositories.

You can now click 'Add' to add another new one to the list. You will have to click on 'HTTP...' and then type in the 'Server Name' and 'Directory on Server' and click 'Next' for all the ones in this list.

An example of what the screen should look like with all these details filled in is shown below:

A screen shot of setting up a repository manually in YaST

You will probably get a few popups like this:

A screen shot of accepting a repository key in YaST

Just click 'Trust and Import the Key' if you are sure that you have inputted all the details correctly.

(More) Extra Repositories

You'll also need to add the following repositories to YaST. To add a repository this time around open YaST and click 'Community Repositories'. You will then be presented with a list of easy-to-add repositories like this:

A screen shot of selecting a community repository in YaST

...add the following list. Ones in italics are optional, do them if you think you'll need the software for your particular needs.

Once you click 'Finish' it'll take a while for the computer to sort it all out - this is normal.

Installing Programs and Nvidia Setup

Now is the time to open YaST and install all the packages, or software, which you may want to make openSUSE work how you wish it to. Open YaST and click 'Software Management'. As I am going to supply you with the exact name of each package you can un-tick 'Summary' this time around to speed up the searches. Now, in no order, search for all the packages in the list below and tick the box next to their name to mark them for installation, like:

A screen shot of selecting a package for installation in YaST

Click 'Accept' once you've marked the whole list. Some may already be ticked - it's no problem, just move onto the next item. Ones in italics are optional, do them if you think you'll need the software for your specific needs.

When you tick 'libxine1' you may get an error like this:

A screen shot of the libxine1 dependency error

It's not a major issue, simply select the option which says Install libspeex although it would change the vendor and click 'OK -- Try Again'.

When you've selected the packages you wish to install click 'Accept' to continue. You will also most likely get told that some other packages have to be installed too, like this:

A screen shot of installing additional recommended packages

This isn't a problem either, just accept all the extra packages. If YaST didn't say anything about having to restart your computer before the updates have finished then follow these steps to activate the Nvidia drivers (else restart your computer):

  1. Close all programs which are open
  2. Open a Konsole window
  3. Type sudo su
  4. Type modprobe nvidia
  5. Close the Konsole window
  6. Press Ctrl-Alt-Backspace

It should work now in all its 3D glory since the Nvidia drivers have been installed. This means that you have 3D Hardware Support enabled and working. You should be able to open up the Nvidia software from your menu by clicking 'Applications' → 'System' → 'Configuration' → 'Configure NVIDIA X Server Settings' and the program should look like this:

A screen shot of Nvidia Software


If you want to have Skype on your computer then you'll need to visit the download Skype webpage and click on the 'OpenSUSE 10+' link. You should then be presented with a download popup which looks like the one shown below for Firefox.

Download Skype in Firefox

Just click 'OK'. You may then get presented with the download manager like this:

Install Skype from Firefox

Simply click 'Open' and YaST should install it straight away without needing your input - all done.

Google Earth

If you want Google Earth then go to the Google Earth website and download the latest Linux version, it'll be a bin file so it should just be downloaded to your computer. When it has finished downloading you should open up a Konsole and follow these instructions:

  1. cd to the download location
  2. Type chmod +x GoogleEarthLinux.bin
  3. Type ./GoogleEarthLinux.bin

A popup should appear looking like this:

Install Google Earth

Click 'Begin Install' and then (eventually) click 'Start'. You may get a font warning, if so, tick 'Don't show me this again' then click 'Continue'. It should now be installed for you without a hitch.


If, like me, you do a lot of web design then you will be acutely aware of the shocking bugs and plethora of features lacking in the Internet Explorer web browser. My mentality is simple: use valid W3C web standards and wait for IE to catch up. This usually means that current IE users are crippled; to counter this, web designers have to make sure that their pages degrade gracefully. To test this one must use IE and this is quite hard to do if you don't own a copy of Microsoft Windows. The alternate is to install IEs4Linux. It is quite simple to do. First, one must download IEs4Linux as a tar.gz and extract the contents. Then, open up a Konsole, navigate to the downloaded location and type ./ies4linux to run it. A popup should appear, like this:

Install IEs4Linux

Here you can select various options for your installation. I choose to just install IE6 and not 'Abode Flash 9' and only put icons in my menu. When you click 'OK' you should get another popup, like this:

Installing IEs4Linux

If, like me, your wireless connection is iffy then it can fail a few times when it is downloading all the files it needs or the installer just randomly fails. This isn't a problem, just simply type ./ies4linux back into the Konsole and it'll continue from last time. Once it is all done click 'Close' then you can simply type ie6 & into a Konsole and IE6 should open up for you. Do not use IE6 to browse the internet; just use it to test your own websites' compatibility. Don't forget that IE is awful.

Firewall Services

It's now time to configure the Firewall to allow certain services which we want to use, so open YaST then:

  1. Click 'Security and Users'
  2. Click 'Firewall'
  3. Click 'Allowed Services' on the left hand menu
  4. Use the 'Services to Allow' drop-down box and the 'Add' button to make it look like this:

    A screen shot of the Allowed Services for the Firewall

  5. Click 'Next'
  6. Click 'Finish'

Apache Web Server

Now it's time to set up the Apache 2 Web Server in a manner you want. These instructions are based on Installing Apache, PHP, and MySQL on SUSE Linux Professional at Novell. Now open YaST, then:

  1. Click 'System'
  2. Click 'System Services (Runlevel)'
  3. Tick the 'Expert Mode' option at the top
  4. Click 'apache2' in the list
  5. Tick '3' and '5' at the bottom
  6. Click the 'Start/Stop/Refresh' drop-down box in the bottom left
  7. Select 'Start now...'
  8. Click 'OK'
  9. Click 'Finish'

This makes Apache start whenever you logon to your computer - simple, eh?

Rewrite isn't enabled by default in the Apache server. This means that any .htaccess files which are designed to prevent hotlinking by doing rewrites will not work in this configuration. If you've followed my Tutorial to Stop Hotlinking then you'll need to follow these instructions. These instructions are based on Enable mod_rewrite Apache 2.0 rewrite module on SuSE Linux. So open up a Konsole and follow these instructions:

  1. Type sudo su
  2. Type cd /etc/sysconfig/
  3. Type vi apache2
  4. Add rewrite to the line which starts APACHE_MODULES= then :wq the file, like this:

    A screen shot of editting apache2

  5. Type SuSEconfig
  6. Type rcapache2 restart

Now you should be able to type http://localhost/~USERNAME into a web browser and get a nice server running content which is in /home/USERNAME/public_html but this isn't very professional I don't think. What I want is to type something like http://mylocaldomain/ and have it map directly to some folder on my system, without having nasty ~USERNAME additions. This also means that your root document (i.e., your front page) will actually be the root of your local virtual host, compared to being a subfolder. First things first, open up a Konsole and perform the following:

  1. Type sudo su
  2. Type cd /etc/
  3. Type vi hosts
  4. Add mylocaldomain to the line which has and localhost then :wq the file.
  5. Type cd apache2/vhosts.d/
  6. Type touch mylocaldomain.conf
  7. Type vi mylocaldomain.conf
  8. Add:
    NameVirtualHost mylocaldomain
    <VirtualHost mylocaldomain>
        DocumentRoot /path/to/local/web/content
        ServerName mylocaldomain
    then :wq the file. Note: If the DocumentRoot path has a space in it then enclose the whole string in "s to make it work.
  9. Type rcapache2 restart

Fire up a web browser and type http://mylocaldomain/ and all should be there, working nicely.

FTP Server

Now it's time to set up the FTP Server in a manner you want, so open YaST then:

  1. Click 'System'
  2. Click 'System Services (Runlevel)'
  3. Tick the 'Expert Mode' option at the top
  4. Click 'vsftpd' in the list
  5. Tick '3' and '5' at the bottom
  6. Click the 'Start/Stop/Refresh' drop-down box in the bottom left
  7. Select 'Start now...'
  8. Click 'OK'
  9. Click 'Finish'

Now you should be able to:

  1. Click 'Network Services' in YaST
  2. Click 'FTP Server'
  3. Click 'General' in the left hand menu
  4. Tick 'Chroot Everyone'
  5. Under 'Ftp Directory for Authenticated Users' type path/to/local/desired/folder
  6. Click 'Authentication'
  7. Tick 'Authenticated Users Only'
  8. Tick 'Enable Upload'
  9. Click 'Expert Settings'
  10. Tick 'Open Port in Firewall'
  11. Tick 'Accept'

Now you should have a FTP Server up and running. You can open up a FTP client, such as FireFTP in Firefox or KFTPGrabber, and connect to ftp://localhost/ with your own username and password to check that it is working.

VNC Server

VNC is a method which lets you connect to a remote computer and use its desktop and programs as if you were actually sat there yourself. I choose to enable this feature so that I can connect to my laptop from a Windows desktop in a separate room, for example. You should already have everything you need to setup VNC, you just need to enable it. However, this is a security risk - only do it if you're going to use it and maintain it!

Firstly, open up YaST then click 'Network Services' then 'Remote Administration (VNC)'. Once the window has opened up ensure that the box titled "Allow Remote Administration" is ticked and click 'Finish'.

Then, open up your menu and go to 'Applications' → 'System' → 'Configuration' → 'SaX2'. You may experience some flickering of your screen - this is perfectly normal. Eventually a new program will appear, click on the 'Remote Access' tab on the left and tick the box which says Allow access to display and keyboard/mouse of your X Server. Tick 'Activate Password Protection' and then you will then have to supply a password which must be less than 8 characters long (this is why its insecure). SaX2 should look like this:

A screen shot of SaX2

Click 'OK' then you'll get asked to 'Test' or 'Save' your changes, I'd just 'Save' them straight away this time as you haven't really done anything. Now just press Ctrl-Alt-Backspace and your computer is able to be connected to via VNC!

To test this all you need to do is open up a client on a remote computer, I use RealVNC when on Windows or Krdc when on KDE, and connect to the IP address of your openSUSE computer and then supply that small password you typed in earlier and everything should work out fine! This section simplifies the instructions which I contributed to on YaST Remote Administration on the openSUSE Wiki.

NX Server & Client

The NX protocol is another way of connecting to a computer remotely. It has two advantages over VNC:

  1. it is faster; and
  2. it is more secure.

NX uses SSH keys to authenticate between computers and so it is much more secure than the simple passwords of VNC. However, it has one disadvantage for the wider world:

  1. You can only connect to a Unix-like computer.

So, you can use NX to connect to a Linux computer from Windows - but you cannot use NX to connect to Windows. I found the FreeNX Server How-To very useful when setting up the NX Server. Basically, you should have inadvertently installed the server when you selected which packages to install earlier in this tutorial. To check you can type rpm -q FreeNX into a Konsole and check that you get a sensible answer back. Then just type sudo su followed by nxsetup --install --setup-nomachine-key --clean into a Konsole and the NX Server should be all setup for you.

You'll want to download the NoMachine NX Client too: navigate to 'NX Client for Linux' → 'NX Client for Linux RPM' → 'Download Package' and you should start downloading a rpm which can be installed the same way as Skype was earlier. Once it is installed you should get a new entry on your menu under 'Applications' → 'Internet'. Fire up the NX Client and you should be presented with a wizard if it's your first time, like this:

A screen shot of the NX Client wizard

Click 'Next' then under 'Session' type Local Test and under 'Host' type localhost and under 'Select type of your internet connection.' drag the bar to the right so as to select LAN then click 'Next' a few times and you'll then have to login to your system (use your standard username and password). If your credentials are correct you'll get a nice screen like this:

A screen shot of the NX Client logging on

You've now got everything you need to use NX to connect to your Linux computers in a much more secure fashion than using VNC.

Unix and Windows Filenames

There is a conflict with how Windows and Linux handle filenames by default. For instance, if you have a USB drive and create a folder called RAW on Windows then reboot and stick it in Linux it will come up as raw. Check out this Ubuntu Forum thread called FAT32 Filenames not working on how to solve this for hard drives. To solve it for USB hard drives:

  1. Open up Konqueror
  2. Type "sysinfo:/" in the address bar
  3. Right click on the USB Drive
  4. Click 'Properties'
  5. Click 'Mounting'
  6. Select 'Mixed' from the drop-down box at the bottom
  7. Click 'OK'
  8. Switch Off your USB Drive
  9. Switch On your USB Drive

Your files and folders should now have the correct filenames in both OSs.


Now is a convenient time to set up all your links. For example, if you have a separate hard drive with all your data on which you keep organised yourself, then you can link a subfolder, say 'Documents', so that it also appears as '/home/username/Documents'. There are two ways to do this:

The first method can simply be run without a hitch, however, the second method requires you to edit a file with root access. However, it is my prefered choice as it is much less transparent to the system and simplifies the setup of the Apache and FTP servers. There is a limitation unfortunately, this method cannot work for USB devices as they are not mounted at boot (they are mounted at logon) and fstab is run at boot. So, to use the second method open up a Konsole window and type:

  1. Type sudo su
  2. Type cd /etc/
  3. Type vi fstab
  4. Add the line:
    /path/to/distant/folder    /path/to/new/folder    bind    defaults,bind    0    0
    for every folder you wish to re-mount then :wq the file.

It should now work for you the next time you boot into Linux.

QT Developer Environment

If you decided to install the 'QT 4 Development' Pattern then you'll need to compile the demo and tutorial programs. To do this you'll need to open up a Konsole and:

  1. Type sudo su
  2. Type cd /usr/share/doc/packages/libqt4/demos
  3. Type qmake
  4. Type make
  5. Type cd ../examples
  6. Type qmake
  7. Type make

Note: If you get errors when you run make about missing files then you'll have to download the source files, extract the contents and add the missing files one by one so that you can run the command again. It's a pain I know, sorry, I have submitted a bug called Bug 424798 - Missing files in libqt4-devel/libqt4-devel-doc - hopefully it will get fixed.

If you get an error when trying to compile examples/tools/plugandpaint which goes along the lines of /usr/bin/ld: cannot find -lpnp_basictools then this is a known issue with an easy solution, which I found in a thread on the Mandriva Forums called Can't find lib pnp_basictools from QT. Open up a Konsole then:

  1. Type sudo su
  2. Type cd /usr/share/doc/packages/libqt4/examples/tools/plugandpaint/
  3. Type vi
  4. Edit the line which starts LIBS    = and change it so that it looks like: LIBS=     -L../tools/plugandpaintplugins/basictools -L plugins/ -lpnp_basictools then :wq the file.

You should now be able to re-run the command and compile the program without any further problems. You may wish to run qtdemo too after all this to give yourself an introduction to the world of QT and C++ GUI programming.

Basic Customisation

In this chapter we'll change a lot of the basic settings of your computer so that it feels more personal and easier to work with. It also covers little tweaks and adds some basic user-friendly functionality.

Default Programs

This is where we set Firefox as the default Web Browser and Thunderbird as the default Email Client. Obviously, this section still holds for your own specific preferences, just change it from Firefox to what ever you want and you'll get the same result. Open your menu and go the 'Configure Desktop (Control Centre)' in the first tab, it should look like this:

A screen shot of the KDE Control Centre

On the left hand side click 'KDE Components' → 'Component Chooser'. Now click 'Email Client' and select "Use a different email client:" then click on the '...' button - you should now be able to select your desired software from the little popup KMenu. Now you need to click 'Apply' at the bottom and then you can do the same for the Web Browser.

Boot Loader

The boot loader is the screen you get immediately after you switch on your computer, it lets you choose which OS you're going to use. Whenever you add a kernel update the entries change their name: I find them ugly and so I change their names to make the screen look nicer. As an example, have a look at the shot below showing the boot loader just after applying a kernel update:

A screen shot of the boot loader

I don't change any of the other settings or configuration as it's easy to mess up your whole system in this bit. Open YaST and click 'System' then click 'Boot Loader'. You should now see all the entries for your computer. Simply click on each one in turn and click 'Edit' then change the 'Section Name' to something nicer. Then click 'Finish' and next time you reboot it will look a lot more professional I think.

Turn Off System Beep

Right, this is one issue that crops up a lot on various Linux forums. The system bell is annoying in any OS. It seems that the general consensus is to just open up a GUI and change 'System Bell' to "Visible" or "None". This didn't work for me and neither did the information found on an openSUSE Wiki about Firefox started beeping either. Now I should elaborate a bit more because I think my experience with this is different to most people's, indeed, it seems that the previous methods solve the problem for everyone except me.

I run a Dell Inspiron 8600 Laptop. I have a cable in my headphone socket which goes to my Hi-Fi so that I can listen to music on a decent set of speakers. So, no sound ever comes out of my laptop speakers as the cable is always plugged in. Right, here's the problem: whenever the system beep occurs it comes out of my laptop speakers, ignoring the headphone cable, and for the duration of the beep it also plays my music through my speakers, also ignoring the cable. As the volume on my laptop is on maximum (because of the cable) then when the beep comes out of the laptop speakers it is very loud. This is very annoying for me. My solution is based upon an Ubuntu Forum thread called Turn off (mute) system beep which I have then stuck into a bash file to run on log in so it does it all the time.

Yes, I know this is a long way round to solve the problem, it's just that all other methods didn't seem to work for me. So, if you want to do it this way then open up a Konsole window and follow the instructions below, otherwise check out the previous links:

  1. Type sudo su
  2. Type cd /etc/profile.d/
  3. Type touch
  4. Type vi
  5. Add:
    xset b off
    xset b 0 0 0
    then :wq the file.

Now next time you log in, and every time after that, the system beep will be no more! I should say that the System Beep is an important feature of a computer: it notifies you of a major error. Disabling it may hinder your experience, particularly if troubleshooting. However, the System Beep is most important during boot-up and this method doesn't stop it from beeping during this stage, which is good!

NTP Time

You can easily set up your computer so that it automatically synchronises its time with a remote server. To do this open YaST and click 'Network Services' then click 'NTP Configuration'. Check the button for 'During Boot' and then to one which says Use Random Servers from and that's it!

CPU Policies

KPowersave is the software which governs the policies for your CPU, i.e., when to run at full and when to save the battery. I prefer to change the settings from the default ones. Open KPowersave by right clicking on its icon in the bottom right corner then select 'Configure KPowersave' (its icon is that of a plug). For the scheme 'Performance' un-tick 'Enable specific display power management' and then click 'CPU Frequency Policy' and click 'Performance' there too. Then for the scheme 'Powersave' un-tick 'Enable specific display power management' and then click 'CPU Frequency Policy' and click 'Powersave'. Hit 'OK' to save and exit.

Wireless Passwords

When you first login to a wireless connection the KDE Wallet system will popup and ask you if you want to use it. I choose to use it for convenience but I don't protect it with a password for the same reason. So, when it pops up choose 'Basic Setup' then tick 'Yes, I wish to use the KDE Wallet to store my personal information' then click 'Finish' (without typing a password in). Then another popup should appear which asks about "knetworkmanager" so you can now tick 'Allow Always'.

Now, an icon for the KDE Wallet will appear in your system tray, which I don't like. So I right click on it and click 'Configure Wallet' then I un-tick 'Show Manager in System Tray' and then I click 'OK'. Then right click on the icon again and click 'Quit'.

openSUSE Updater Applet

This is an applet which runs whenever you start your computer and checks for available updates for all your programs. It is a little bit like 'Automatic Updates' for Windows. However, it can take ages to check for them as it is quite a CPU intensive task to parse all the xml files and things so it actually slows down your computer for the first 5 minutes or so. Plus, you can't use YaST to change your software whilst it is working, which is annoying, so, I disable it. To do this right click on the little Gecko in the bottom-right corner and click 'Configure Applet...' then deselect 'Automatically start updater on logon' then click 'OK' and then right-click on it again and click 'Quit'. You can still run it from the menu if you want to do an update or you can even use YaST too.

YaST Repository Refresh Time

YaST can take a while refreshing all the repositories when all you want to do is install some new software - not check for the latest and greatest version of every piece of software out there. As such, I change the refresh time for the repositories. For instance, I only let YaST check for updates to the repositories every week which greatly speeds up its load time. This is taken from an openSUSE Forums thread called Setting The Refresh Period For YaST Package Manager. Fire up a Konsole and:

  1. Type sudo su
  2. Type cd /etc/zypp/
  3. Type vi zypp.conf
  4. Find the line which says # repo.refresh.delay = 10 and remove the # then change the value to whatever you want (the value must be in minutes) then :wq the file.

In my file the entire line looks like repo.refresh.delay = 10080. If you choose the same as me then it means it'll only check for updates every week as 10,080 Minutes = 7 Days x 24 Hours x 60 Minutes.


This is an applet which runs whenever you start your computer and manages your clipboard. Personally, I don't ever use this application so it is just another needless icon in my system tray - so I remove it. Right click on the icon and click 'Quit' then 'Do Not Start'.

Display Power Management

You can enable/disable your screen to automatically switch off after a set period of time. For me, I don't like this behaviour. It is enabled as default so I choose to change this. If you wish to do the same then:

  1. Right Click on the Desktop
  2. Click 'Configure Desktop'
  3. Click 'Display'
  4. Click the 'Power Conrol' tab
  5. Un-tick the box 'Enable display power management'
  6. Click 'OK'

Service Menus

Service menus in KDE are equivalent to context menus in Windows Explorer. When you open up a file browser and right click in an empty space you get a little popup menu next to your cursor that gives you a few options about what to do. In KDE you can create these little menus very easily to add extra functionality like 'Attach To Email' or 'Convert To PDF' or 'Optimise PNG'. In this brief chapter we'll add a few service menus to KDE to make our life easier. If you're lazy and don't wish to do a small amount of typing you can download all the scripts so that you can just copy them to the right place on your system.


Now, we can add a function to Konqueror so that we can right click on a folder and view the contents as a slideshow. This is based on the Add Start Slideshow Wiki at Freespire. Fire up a Konsole window and perform the following:

  1. Type mkdir .kde/share/apps/konqueror/servicemenus
  2. Type cd .kde/share/apps/konqueror/servicemenus/
  3. Type touch slideshow.desktop
  4. Type vi slideshow.desktop
  5. Add:
    [Desktop Entry]

    [Desktop Action Slideshow]
    Name=Start Slideshow
    Exec=feh %F -FZd --sort filename
    then :wq the file.

We'll do a few of these in this guide so I'll show you a screen shot of the first one so that you know you've done it right:

A screen shot of adding a servicemenu

This can now be tested by navigating to a folder in Konqueror and right clicking in empty space (or a highlighted selection of photos) and clicking on 'Actions...' then 'Start Slideshow'.

Send Attachment via Thunderbird

Now, we can also add a function to Konqueror so that we can right click on a folder or file and send it as an email attachment using Thunderbird. This is based on Thunderbird Service Menu on Fire up a Konsole window and perform the following:

  1. Type cd .kde/share/apps/konqueror/servicemenus/
  2. Type touch attachToEmail.desktop
  3. Type vi attachToEmail.desktop
  4. Add:
    [Desktop Entry]

    [Desktop Action attachToEmail]
    Name=Attach to Email
    Exec=thunderbird -compose `echo attachment=\'file://%F\' | sed 's/ \//,file:\/\/\//g'`
    then :wq the file.

This can now be tested by navigating to a file in Konqueror and right clicking it and clicking on 'Actions...' then 'Attach to Email'.

Note: it will not attach files if the full path has any spaces in it. I may make a Bash Script to correct this in the future.

Convert PS to PDF

Now, we can also add a function to Konqueror so that we can right click on a PS file and instantly convert it to a PDF file. This is useful as most applications can print to a PS file and so we can then convert this to a PDF. Fire up a Konsole window and perform the following:

  1. Type cd .kde/share/apps/konqueror/servicemenus/
  2. Type touch PStoPDF.desktop
  3. Type vi PStoPDF.desktop
  4. Add:
    [Desktop Entry]

    [Desktop Action PStoPDF]
    Name=Convert PS to PDF
    Exec=ps2pdf %f
    then :wq the file.

This can now be tested by navigating to a PS file in Konqueror and right clicking it and clicking on 'Actions...' then 'Convert PS to PDF'.

Note: it will save the new PDF to your home directory, not where the original PS was. This is due to only being allowed %f once within the Exec line of the script file, see the Exec Documentation. I may make a Bash Script to correct this in the future.

Create PDF from LaTeX File

Now, we can also add a function to Konqueror so that we can right click on a LaTeX document and instantly convert it to a PDF file. Fire up a Konsole window and perform the following:

  1. Type cd .kde/share/apps/konqueror/servicemenus/
  2. Type touch LaTeXtoPDF.desktop
  3. Type vi LaTeXtoPDF.desktop
  4. Add:
    [Desktop Entry]

    [Desktop Action LaTeXtoPDF]
    Name=Convert LaTeX Document to PDF
    Exec=pdflatex %f
    then :wq the file.

This can now be tested by navigating to a LaTeX Document in Konqueror and right clicking it and clicking on 'Actions...' then 'Convert LaTeX Document to PDF'.

Note: it will save the new PDF to your home directory, not where the original LaTeX Document was. This is due to only being allowed %f once within the Exec line of the script file, see the Exec Documentation. I may make a Bash Script to correct this in the future.

Optimise PNG images

Now, we can add a function to Konqueror so that we can right click on a PNG image and instantly optimise it - a quick and easy way to shrink production web graphics. Fire up a Konsole window and perform the following:

  1. Type cd .kde/share/apps/konqueror/servicemenus/
  2. Type touch optiPNG.desktop
  3. Type vi optiPNG.desktop
  4. Add:
    [Desktop Entry]

    [Desktop Action optiPNG]
    Name=Optimise PNG
    Exec=optipng %f
    then :wq the file.

This can now be tested by navigating to a PNG in Konqueror and right clicking it and clicking on 'Actions...' then 'Optimise PNG'.


In this chapter we'll really start to make you feel right at home. We'll change all the cosmetics of your system so that it feels like a well loved comfort blanket. It'll cover all things like Screensavers and Panels.

System Sounds

Personally I think the start up sound for openSUSE sounds like a cheap American News Channel and I hate it. So I get rid of it and most of the sounds from the computer. To do this, open up the menu and click 'Configure Desktop (Control Centre)' then click 'Sound and Multimedia' then click 'System Notifications'. You may now select which sounds you want to hear. You may also change the sound files to be played.

Mouse Behaviour

I like to configure Konqueror so that single clicking doesn't open a file but just selects it. This brings the mouse behaviour back to how I preferred it on Windows systems. To do this, open up the menu and click 'Configure Desktop (Control Centre)' then click 'Peripherals' then click 'Mouse' and select 'Double Click to Open Files and Folders'.


Exactly the same as in Windows, it's up to you as to what you have, if anything.

  1. Right Click on the Desktop
  2. Click 'Configure Desktop'
  3. Click 'Screen Saver'
  4. Choose your Screen Saver (or un-tick 'Start Automatically' if you don't want one)
  5. Click 'OK'


Also exactly the same as in Windows, it's up to you as to what you have.

  1. Right Click on the Desktop
  2. Click 'Configure Desktop'
  3. Then select which file you want to be displayed.

Desktop Icons

Also exactly the same as in Windows - you can delete your desktop icons without any consequences. You may also want to align them to a grid or sort them, this is all done by right clicking on the desktop and using the 'Icons' submenu.


Setting up the panels is a major step in customising your computer. There are much more opportunities to customise them in KDE than in Windows. For instance I use a Main Panel at 85% width and have it hidden at the upper edge so that it only appears when I move my mouse near it. This means I have the use of the whole screen. This is useful if you have a wide screen as you'll need all the vertical resolution you can get. I also use a secondary panel at the bottom of the screen which is also hidden, I use it to display data and contain more icons. Firstly, right click on the 'Main Panel' and click 'Add New Panel' then click 'Panel'. Now Right Click on either of the panels and select 'Configure Panel...'. From this box you can configure both panels. I have provided screen shots of my settings so that you can configure yours the same.

First is the arrangement for the Main Panel:

A screen shot of the Main Panel arrangement settings

Now a screen shot of the Panel arrangement settings:

A screen shot of the Panel arrangement settings

...and a screen shot of the Main Panel hiding settings:

A screen shot of the Main Panel hiding settings

...and a screen shot of the Panel hiding settings:

A screen shot of the Panel hiding settings

Whilst you've got this dialogue open you might want to click on 'Taskbar' and un-tick "Show windows from all desktops".

I also use some applets in each panel along with some shortcut icons. To get these simply right click on the panel you wish to add something to and click on 'Add Applet to Panel...'. I also change the menu to the KDE Menu style, to do this simply right click on the green gecko and click 'Switch to KDE Menu Style'. This is (as is all of this section) down to personal choice, so once again I've included a screen shot of what I use. I also lock the panels too. If you're wondering, the wallpaper is openSUSE by 314zdec at deviantART.

My clean and simple desktop...

A screen shot of my desktop

You should to able to amke out the Main Panel at the top with 'KMenu', 'Desktop Preview & Pager', 'Taskbar' and 'System Tray'. The other panel at the bottom has 'Clock', 'Kima', 'Lock/Logout Buttons' and various application shortcuts.

You may want to edit the style or position of some of the applets, such as the clock and Kima, as the default font isn't that pretty I don't think. Also, you may want to make the 'Lock/Logout Buttons' transparent, just right click and click 'Transparent'. In essence - just have a play around to see whats best!

I also don't like the side image in the KMenu so I go to 'Control Centre' then click on 'Desktop' then 'Panels' then 'Menus' and un-tick 'Show side image'.

One other thing I do is use small icons for my KMenu. More information can be found in SUSE KMenu Icon Size at SUSE Blog. In short open up a Konsole window and follow these instructions:

  1. Type cd .kde/share/config/
  2. Type vi kickerrc
  3. Go down until you find the [menus] section.
  4. Edit the entry MenuEntryHeight to MenuEntryHeight=16
  5. Then :wq the file.
  6. Type dcop kicker Panel restart

You should now have dainty icons on your KMenu.

Window Decorations

I dislike the default window manager for KDE, I think it is a bit childish, too bright and too rounded, so, I change it. If you wish to do the same and use some window decorations which are a bit more elegant then:

  1. Open up the 'Control Centre'
  2. Click on 'Appearance & Themes'
  3. Click 'Window Decorations'
  4. Select 'Plastik' from the drop-down box
  5. Click 'Apply'

Customisation of Programs

Now that we've got you feeling at home and comfortable with your new system in the previous chapters we'll start to customise your software so that it can be more productive for your, letting you get the job done in style.


Amarok is one of the 'killer-apps' for Linux. It is a music player and I use it all the time, it is the only program which I keep always open. When you open it up for the first time you'll get the 'First-Run Wizard', here you'll be able to add your music folders to Amarok's library. Some things you may want to consider when setting up this program:


Firefox is my web browser of choice and I customise it a bit so that it works exactly how I want, you may want to consider:

You may also wish to look at how I arrange Firefox: it may give you ideas on how to create a more efficient setting for you.


hugin is panorama stitching software. It is cross-platform and open source. It uses the popular PanoTools as its engine. Some steps are required to install it correctly. Firstly, you'll need to have completed this check-list.

Now that is complete you can open it up and start to configure it by going to 'File' → 'Preferences' then:

  1. 'Assistant' → 'Downscale final pano' → 100
  2. 'Autopano' → 'Select Autopano' → Autopano-SIFT


KATE is the K Advanced Text Editor and it's the program I use for all my coding - it's great! When you open it up for the first time you'll most likely get presented with a choice like this:

KATE Session manager

Simply tick 'Always use this choice' then press 'New Session'. Here are some settings you may want to consider when setting up this program:


This is my CD Ripper of choice and it uses cdparanoia as its back-end so you know its of high quality. Here are some things you may want to consider when setting up this program:


Right click on the speaker icon in the system tray and select 'Show Mixer Window' then click 'Settings' then 'Configure KMix'. Now choose 'Relative' as the 'Volume Values'. Then click 'OK'. Now you can change all the values to look like this:

KMix Volume Settings


For KTorrent you'll have to change some of the settings for optimisation. You may want to:


If you decided to install LabPlot then you will have noticed that when you open it up a Konsole window accompanies it and that if you close the Konsole window then LabPlot also closes. This is very annoying, fortunately it is easy to fix. Open your KMenu and click on 'Control Centre' → 'Desktop' → 'Panels' → 'Menus' → 'Edit KMenu'. Now, navigate to the shortcut for LabPlot and select it, then un-tick the box which says Run in terminal. Now, close it all down (saving changes) and it should all work fine.


LaTeX2rtf is a program to generate rtf files from LaTeX documents. These rtf files can then be opened in Microsoft Word for the wider, non-scientific, community. You'll need to download the 'latex2rtf-unix' file form the SourceForge site and extract its contents. Then open up a Konsole and type:

  1. Type sudo su
  2. Type cd path/to/extracted/archive/
  3. Type make
  4. Type make install


I prefer to use Kaffeine for playing videos and DVDs but sometimes it lacks codec support for some special videos, so, I am forced to use MPlayer in tandem. There is only one thing wrong with MPlayer in my mind - its skin. It is awful; it is so bad that it hinders its use! So, I change the skin to something more user-friendly. Download Pasodoble for MPlayer from and extract the contents. Read the README file or simply copy the extracted folder to ~/.mplayer/Skin (don't worry if it doesn't exist - just create it).

Now, open up MPlayer and right click on a blue part of its UI then select 'Skin Browser' from the resulting popup menu. Just click the 'pasodoble-mplayer' and you're away! Writer

Is the contender to Microsoft Word and I use it occasionally. To be fair, most of my typing is coding or LaTeX in KATE so I hardly use a Word Processor at all. Here are some things you may want to consider when setting up this program:


If you chose to install and use the Opera web browser then you may have noticed that the Flash Plugin doesn't work correctly out of the box. To get it to work I went to the Installation of Plug-ins for Opera on Linux page and followed the instructions for Flash Plugin. I then manually downloaded the latest version of Opera and updated the shortcuts in my KMenu - it then worked fine.


To enable the auto-align feature in qtpfsgui check out align_image_stack whilst I work it out for my specific system - I'll get back to you.


I like my workspaces nice and neat - uncluttered - so I do two things. Firstly, I close the second window (or dialog) which opens when you open up a file in The GIMP for the first time. It'll remember this setting for next time. The second thing I do is to change the settings so that the layer boundaries are not shown as default. To do this go to 'File' → 'Preferences' → 'Image Windows' → 'Appearance' and un-tick 'Show layer boundary'.


Thunderbird is my email client. I have it running IMAP with GMail and POP3 with Yahoo along with my personal webmail and work email systems. Some things you may want to consider when setting up this program:

If clicking on a web link in an email doesn't open it up in a web browser at all then you can follow these instructions. I don't know if it is a bug or something which I did to my system accidentally but it didn't work for me until I did this. I devised this method after reading an Ubuntu Forum thread titled "Thunderbird and default web browser". So, open up Thunderbird and go to 'Edit' → 'Preferences' → 'Advanced' → 'Config Editor...'. Now, in the little search box type "app.http" and if links don't work in your emails then nothing should show up in this search. If things turn up and links don't work then I don't know the solution to your problem. So, if you want to continue this solution then right click in the large white space and click 'New' → 'String'. In the first popup type and then in the second popup type firefox. Now, do the same thing again but this time type then firefox. Note that the second time it says https not http at the end. Links should now work in emails!

System Maintenance

In this chapter we'll look at a few ways in which you can optimise and look after your computer, from the clearing of temporary files to the detection of rootkits.

Cron Jobs

There is a system cron job to clean out old temp files which can free up disk space on your computer, it just needs setting up first.

  1. Open YaST
  2. Click on 'System'
  3. Click on 'etc/sysconfig Editor'
  4. Expand 'System' in the tree on the left
  5. Expand 'Cron'
  6. Click 'MAX_DAYS_IN_TMP' and type 7 in the large text field
  7. Click 'Finish'
  8. Click 'OK'


Right, you may be thinking Why do I need Anti-Virus Software on Linux? Well, with the increase in popularity of Linux it is only a matter of time before virus makers pay more attention to us and start to target us. Secondly, when you forward emails and such you can protect your friends who use Windows by checking your outgoing mail for viruses too. To start KlamAV open up your menu and go to 'Utilities' → 'Security' → 'KlamAV'. The first time you run KlamAV you'll get a little wizard to do a few things. It will then download the latest virus database - which may take a while. You can tell its doing it by looking at the status bar at the bottom of KlamAV, see:

A screen shot of KlamAV updating its virus database

Once that's done you may want to change these settings:

Note: currently I have not found a way to integrate KlamAV with Thunderbird at all. I have looked everywhere. If anyone knows how to pipe mail in Thunderbird then please contact me. In the mean time I'm starting to consider switching to Kontact and KMail.


As default Ksysguard only shows four different graphs which only scratch the surface of what it is capable of. The four basic ones are:

I choose to add a few more and remove the 'Load Average' one. Firstly, open up Ksysguard and then right click on the graph titled 'Load Average' then click 'Remove Display'. Now we need to add a few more spaces for the other graphs. Click 'Edit' → 'Worksheet Properties' then change the 'Update Interval' to 1 sec and change the 'Columns' to 3. Now you should have three empty boxes available for new graphs to be displayed in. To see what other graphs you can add move your mouse to the very left edge of Ksysguard and click and drag to the right and you should reveal the 'Sensor Browser' sidebar (if its not already displayed). You should now be able to expland the tree to find individual sensors. Once you've found one you want to use just drag it to an empty box and select "Signal Plotter" from the little popup. If you find ones that display similar things (such as Network I/O) then you can drag them to the same box and have them as different colours - like the current 'Physical Memory' one. I choose to add these three:

If you right click on a graph you can change its title and the colour of its grid lines. The colour of the grid lines of the original graphs is a green which is #04FB1D so you can change the new graphs to match the original ones. Once you've finished you can drag the sidebar back to the left to make it disappear again. I choose to have mine look like:

A screen shot of Ksysguard with custom sensor graphs

It'll remember this new setup without you doing anything so that next time you open up Ksysguard you'll get a much better picture of what's happening one your computer.

Note: in the empty space shown in the above screen shot I usually put the CPU temperature graph. However, the screen shots for this tutorial were taken inside VirtualBox and the Guest OS cannot read that data - hence the blank space.


rkhunter checks for rootkits and other malware on your system. You can run it by opening up a Konsole window and typing sudo su then rkhunter -c -sk then sit back and read the output. Be sure to also type sudo su then rkhunter --update often to update its database.


I believe that openSUSE with KDE is an amazing OS which I find both practical and efficient to use. By the way, my computer is a (as of 2008) 4 year old mid-range Dell Inspiron 8600 Laptop with 512MB of RAM, a 1.5GHz Intel Centrino CPU and a 64MB Nvidia GeForce FX Go5200 Graphics card which, I think you'll agree, isn't exactly amazing. However, I think the results which it produces are amazing.

For your information I regularly use:

Further Reading

I present here a brief list of some resources regarding openSUSE which may help you in your future endeavours.

The Jem Report

A screen shot of The Jem Report

The Jem Report contains a list of very good guides about various Linux distributions. Try reading the specific setup guide for openSUSE 10.3 if you want.

openSUSE Forums

A screen shot of the openSUSE Forums

There are some openSUSE Forums which are very useful if you get into trouble - they're very helpful, thorough and patient.

openSUSE Wiki

A screen shot of the openSUSE Wiki

No Linux distribution would be complete without its own Wiki, so try the openSUSE Wiki as it has loads of user friendly documentation.

Novell Documentation

A screen shot of Novell Docs

If you don't already know, Novell are the founders of openSUSE. They have released some supporting documentation for openSUSE 10.3 which should have everything you need.

This page was last modified on 21/02/2016.

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The Unfriendly Web

Map of total firewall denials on my servers

Update (September 2015)

This site has changed quite a lot since I bought the domain in November 2005 and first started hosting my own content. During that time the internet has evolved an awful lot; as I write this in 2015 it is almost unrecognisable to what it once was. Gone are the days of hosting your own photo albums from your holidays on your own website: now you create an album on Facebook to share with your friends and family. Got some special photos that you are particularly proud of? Then deviantART or Flickr are the places for you to showcase them. Found an interesting page and wish to share it with your friends? Twitter and Facebook will update them immediately wherever they are. Written some pieces of source code that you think other people might find useful? GitHub will version track and syntax highlight it in an instant.

Consequently, this site no longer has photo albums and panoramas taken from my travels: the special ones are in my deviantART gallery and the normal ones are on my private Facebook page. I don't have a WordPress blog at the minute so I will still keep my articles on fixing technological problems ("Releases" and "Tutorials") on here for archival - if they're useful to you then that's great. If I ever restart publishing code it'll be on my GitHub page.

I have learned a lot since I first started writing (non-public) web pages in 2002. As testimony, this site: does not set any cookies; barely has any JavaScript on it; and is no longer dynamically generated using PHP. Rather, it is completely static with updates propagated using make every midnight thanks to cron.

© 2002-2018 Thomas Guymer. See the Copyright Statement.