Is openSUSE Tumbleweed good enough for a seasoned Arch user?

opensuse

Gnome 3.18 running in openSUSE Tumbleweed.

Credit: Swapnil Bhatiya

Being a huge fan of rolling releases, I find openSUSE Tumbleweed to be a great alternative to Arch Linux.

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As a journalist, I have to stay updated with the latest software and rolling releases suit my needs the best. I have been an Arch user for couple of years now and I love it to the core because it's one of the best rolling release available. Prior to Arch, I was an openSUSE user and before that I used Ubuntu.

The reason I moved from openSUSE to Arch was that openSUSE aims at stability and reliability, which means packages take some time to land in official repositories or in the Open Build Service (OBS). On the contrary, thanks to AUR (Arch User Repository) and testing repositories, you can easily install packages even before they are officially released. And since it was a rolling release, I was always running the updated packages without having to reinstall everything every year.

I fell in love with it.

But installing and managing Arch Linux is not an easy job. To help other Arch Linux users, I actually ended up writing a very comprehensive Arch Tutorial, which I keep updating regularly.

One big drawback of Arch is that in many cases I have to compile packages from AUR. And once in awhile something won’t work as expected. That would not only require a considerable amount of time to fix things, but also would break my workflow. This is no fault of Arch Linux, though, as they don’t patch or tweak anything – you get everything from upstream or from fellow users like myself through AUR.

But as my workload is increasing I find I have little time to ‘fix’ or compile things. It is time to consider another alternative.

I stayed away from openSUSE Tumbleweed for a long time, but after meeting with Richard Brown, who chairs the openSUSE board, and talking with him about the process of Tumbleweed development, I had enough confidence to try it out.

I started off with installing it on a virtual machine (to make sure all the packages that I needed were there and won’t break with updates). After a month of everything running fine I decided to give it its own bare metal system.

The installation went smoothly and I booted into Gnome 3.18. I had the latest stable kernel, latest stable LibreOffice, latest GIMP…you name the latest version of any software and it was there.

Once you add the Packman community repo, you have access to thousands more packages. And if you can’t find it there, then head over to OBS-powered software.opensuse.org and install packages with one click.

The biggest difference between Arch and openSUSE is in AUR and OBS. While AUR allows me to install virtually any packages in the Linux world, it does require compiling and at times things may break. OBS offers a much smoother, more reliable and stable experience.

From a system management point of view, I learned a lot from Arch because everything has to be done in a console. On the openSUSE side, while you can do everything in command line it has the best system management tool: YaST. I think every distro must have something like YaST.

So far I am liking openSUSE Tumbleweed and have been using it on my secondary system; my main system is still running Arch Linux, though.

It’s tempting to switch fully to Tumbleweed as it’s more stable and system management is easier. But Arch is way too addictive and I can’t dismiss the possibility of installing ‘whatever’ package I need. So I may continue to use both for a while before deciding which one to keep.

Now my question to you is: Have you tried openSUSE Tumbleweed or Arch Linux? Which one do you use and which one would you choose to run on your main system?

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