openSUSE: An overview of the Linux project

The openSUSE project is coordinated by numerous developers and the SUSE Software Solutions GmbH to create various Linux distributions and applications which are known for their stability and user-friendliness. openSUSE Leap and openSUSE Tumbleweed are the most popular distributions. However, there are other systems available for special requirements.

What is openSUSE?

There are several different distributions available for Linux. Debian and Ubuntu are well known Linux operating systems, however, a joint project from Franconia has been growing in popularity in recent years among the members of the Linux community. openSUSE is sponsored by the Nuremberg company SUSE Software Solutions GmbH, while an international developer community is responsible for the maintenance and update of the distribution. The distributions are open source and strive to offer user-friendly and stable options for servers and workplace computers.

The history of openSUSE

openSUSE began in 2005. At that time, SUSE had been producing commercial Linux distributions for more than ten years and had achieved great success. The know-how acquired in this sector was taken and harnessed in coordination with a committed community to create a free version for private users known as openSUSE. Corporate customers have also benefitted since the introduction of openSUSE Leap 2015. There is a new release annually, in conjunction with regular updates and security patches. Although SUSE is the main sponsor, the project is independent and open to all users.

The crossover between openSUSE and SUSE Linux Enterprise Server (SLES), the commercial Linux distribution from SUSE, became even closer with the introduction of openSUSE Leap. The software components are taken from SLES, while applications and interfaces are based on openSUSE Tumbleweed. The free distribution is binary compatible with its commercial counterpart. This arrangement is advantageous to both sides. Users of the free version get an operating system which is almost on par with the paid options, while the input from the large community has been extremely helpful in improving the commercial system.

What is special about openSUSE?

openSUSE is one of the most popular Linux server distributions as the operating system has met its users’ needs through years of detailed analysis and optimization. Other than the RPM package manager, the special features which distinguish openSUSE are outlined below.


YaST stands for “Yet another Setup Tool” and is included in the basic configuration of openSUSE and SLES. The program is used for installation, configuration, and administration of the operating system and the various applications and is intended to make daily work easier. YaST consists of an installation wizard, which guides the user through the first steps of the new system, and a control center, which is useful in the management of the distribution. Servers can also be set up and managed with the wizard. The setup is very intuitive and makes it easy for Windows or Mac users to get started.


Snapper ensures that no errors occur in the event of any changes in the system. This is achieved by Snapshots. If new software is installed in openSUSE, such as an update or a change in the configuration, a snapshot will be created automatically. Other snapshots will be taken at specified times. Therefore, if there is an issue or if a change to the system goes wrong, the user can simply restore the system to an earlier version. This is especially advantageous if you want to try out new ideas on the design and optimization of the Linux distribution.

Different versions

It is not unusual that Linux distributions are continuously being updated and improved. However, openSUSE gives the user more freedom to decide which system is best for their needs. openSUSE Leap is the right choice for companies which rely on a solid infrastructure. Developers who always want to be up to date prefer openSUSE Tumbleweed, which is a rolling release that has the latest updates. There are also suitable systems for other purposes.

More tools

In addition to YaST, openSUSE provides other useful tools which make the distribution user friendly. The KIWI Image System creates shielded server devices or images of the hard disk and generates a virtual machine. The automatic test system openQA enables safe use by controlling all the software and components of the operating system. The Open Build Service (OBS) is well known in other Linux distributions and helps with the creation and distribution of software packages. The tool was developed by the openSUSE community. Gnome, KDE, Xfce, LibreOffice, Mozilla Firefox, and Opera are also a part of the installation setup.

What different distributions does openSUSE offer?

openSUSE offers several Linux distributions for different purposes and is committed to their continued development.

openSUSE Tumbleweed

openSUSE Tumbleweed is the flagship of the project and it is the basis for the other distributions. Since the introduction of openSUSE Leap, Tumbleweed has been delivered as a rolling release. Functionality updates are provided daily, so the distribution is always up to date. A rigorous testing procedure ensures that the security and stability of the system is maintained. In this sense, openSUSE Tumbleweed is more suited to developers. The knowledge gained through the up-to-date system gives the user a greater insight into the work with the other distributions and the commercial SLES.

openSUSE Leap

openSUSE Leap developers have provided a free distribution since 2015 which is also beneficial for companies. The system runs stably and receives regular security updates. New packages are thoroughly tested and optimized before they are available for openSUSE Leap. The operating system is binary-compatible with SLES.

openSUSE MicroOS

As the name suggests, openSUSE MicroOS is a rather small and minimalistic operating system. It is also based on openSUSE Tumbleweed, but it is intended for edge computing and containers. Updates are installed automatically, and the previous version is restored immediately in the event of an error. openSUSE MicroOS is also suitable for desktop use.

openSUSE Kubic

openSUSE Kubic was developed from openSUSE MicroOS and the Computer-as-a-Service platform. Kubic includes the Kubernetes Cluster Bootstrapping tool kubeadm and uses YaST.

openSUSE Medical

openSUSE Medical is an operating system for users in the medical field. The Linux distribution is based on the old openSUSE 11.3 system and is designed for managing patient records, prescriptions and EEG data in practices and clinics.

Conclusion: openSUSE offers many advantages

openSUSE offers users many advantages and has become a serious alternative to Ubuntu or Debian. The operating system is also a good choice for companies, especially since the introduction of openSUSE Leap in 2015. Leap is binary-compatible with SUSE Linux Enterprise and both systems are developed in parallel. The stability of the Linux distributions is another great advantage. openSUSE is reliable and is suitable for everyday and commercial use, no matter what the hardware is. Lastly, the various Linux distributions are considered very user-friendly and intuitive. It is the community’s goal to provide a system which makes the changeover easier.

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