Ivan Tomica

OpenSUSE observations and initial gripes

As noted few days ago, I decided to give OpenSUSE another chance. This time, for at least a month, and then give it my final judgement. I’ll likely write about motivation for going on this journey down the road, but for now, this is update on what has been weird for me on OpenSUSE side of things and the things that got on my nerves in this past few days.

In previous article I didn’t mention that in fact I went for the OpenSUSE Tumbleweed with KDE Plasma desktop. Consequently in this article you might notice that some issues are OpenSUSE annoyances, while others are KDE ones. I’ll try to elaborate each point as I go along and it should be pretty clear which one is which.

KDE Wallet

After the first login, when connecting to a WiFi, I got prompted to set up KDE Wallet. Default selection would suggest I should use GPG based encryption, but instead of going through some preliminary configuration (getting my Yubikey setup etc.) I decided to go for a blowfish based encryption.

I entered the same password I use for my user login in the KDE Wallet setup process in hope that Wallet will be automatically unlocked at login.

Unfortunately, next time I rebooted the machine, system prompted me for the Wallet password. Very user friendly… NOT!

After short investigation I noticed that package required for that functionality is not installed by default, so I promptly solved that

sudo zypper in pam_kwallet

This made everything work as expected, but it puzzles me why this is not provided by default. If I’m not mistaken, Arch pulls pam_kwalletd by default, as a dependency of KDE Wallet package, so let’s say OpenSUSE could try to be a bit more user-friendly in that regard.

WiFi connection time

While on the topic of WiFi I’ve observed one peculiar thing; that even after setting up pam_kwallet, WiFi connection took some time for initial handshake. After each boot, or resume from sleep, I would say it takes around 10 seconds for WiFi connection to be re-established.

Perhaps I am a bit too spoiled by the Fedora’s lightning speed. And perhaps this is KDE doing something weird. But both GNOME and KDE use NetworkManager underneath, so I guess there should theoretically be no difference between OpenSUSE KDE and Fedora GNOME, but that’s just in theory.

Update – 2020-12-28: I tried to enable the option called “All users may connect to this network” in network settings in hope that will speed up (connect to wifi before the login), but unfortunately issue persists.

Disk encryption

As any sensible person, carrying laptop around in my backpack, I encrypt my whole disk using LUKS. Just in case device gets stolen or lost or whatever.

Due to the way how OpenSUSE has decided to implement the encryption on EFI based systems, each time I boot the system, I get prompted for a password… twice…

This is easily solve-able and is even described in OpenSUSE Wiki article.

Regardless, first one prompted by EFI is ugly as hell, while the second one is the nice one. Not sure how Fedora does it but I am used to their “flickerless boot” so much that I consider everything else “an regression”.

Boot speed

Oh, and also, that decryption process seems to be quite slow on my Ryzen CPU based laptop for some reason. I would bet it takes more than shown in the following excerpt from systemd-analyze. But that may just be an “perceived slowness” or something like that.

ivan@swift3:~> systemd-analyze blame | head -5
7.367s dracut-initqueue.service                                                              
6.836s systemd-cryptsetup@cr_nvme.service
 934ms dracut-pre-udev.service                                                               
 690ms display-manager.service                                                               
 601ms firewalld.service      

As you can see, almost 15 second is spent in that initial phase, and I’d bet it takes another 20 or so after entering my password in EFI prompt. Anyhow, analyze command still shows quite concerning numbers on a laptop that boots other distributions (Arch, Fedora, Ubuntu…) in few seconds

Startup finished in 5.125s (firmware) + 30.053s (loader) + 1.752s (kernel) + 9.070s (initrd) + 2.130s (userspace) = 48.132s 
graphical.target reached after 2.121s in userspace

Screen backlight

For some reason, backlight of the screen is not remembered across the reboots. Each time the system boots it starts with 0% which is quite dim.

ivan@swift3:~> sudo systemctl status systemd-backlight@backlight\:amdgpu_bl0.service 
‚óŹ systemd-backlight@backlight:amdgpu_bl0.service - Load/Save Screen Backlight Brightness of backlight:amdgpu_bl0
     Loaded: loaded (/usr/lib/systemd/system/systemd-backlight@.service; static)
     Active: active (exited) since Sun 2020-12-27 20:04:46 CET; 22min ago
       Docs: man:systemd-backlight@.service(8)
    Process: 893 ExecStart=/usr/lib/systemd/systemd-backlight load backlight:amdgpu_bl0 (code=exited, status=0/SUCCESS)
   Main PID: 893 (code=exited, status=0/SUCCESS)

Dec 27 20:04:46 swift3 systemd[1]: Starting Load/Save Screen Backlight Brightness of backlight:amdgpu_bl0...
Dec 27 20:04:46 swift3 systemd-backlight[893]: amdgpu_bl0: Saved brightness 10 too low; increasing to 12.
Dec 27 20:04:46 swift3 systemd[1]: Finished Load/Save Screen Backlight Brightness of backlight:amdgpu_bl0.

And although it says 10 is saved brightness, I’m not sure if that’s correct. Primarily as I don’t know what the unit of measurement is. If it’s percentage, then, it’s clearly a lie. This may be the issue with the GPU I have, but since it’s not latest Vega graphics, I’d hope that all things would be polished by now in recent kernel such as on the one Tumbleweed ships. Needless to say, this works fine on other distributions…

Emacs

One peculiar thing I’ve observed is that emacs package is already pre-installed, I guess due to some group selected while performing network install. I was very glad to see that. In order to get the GUI version though, you have to install separate package (emacs-x11), but that’s just fine.

Package (un)install

I was playing a bit with i3 window manager in combination with KDE, and that package pulled in few dependencies. Unfortunately, when removing the package those aren’t cleaned up automatically

ivan@swift3:~> sudo zypper remove i3
Reading installed packages...
Resolving package dependencies...

The following package is going to be REMOVED:
  i3

1 package to remove.
After the operation, 1.7 MiB will be freed.

There’s a handy switch for the zypper command to clean those up (-u) but it seems it doesn’t work after you already uninstalled the package, so I, naturally, went through this charade:

ivan@swift3:~> sudo zypper remove -u
Too few arguments.
At least one package name is required.

ivan@swift3:~> sudo zypper remove -u i3
Reading installed packages...
'i3' not found in package names. Trying capabilities.
No provider of 'i3' found.
Resolving package dependencies...

Nothing to do.


ivan@swift3:~> sudo zypper in i3
Loading repository data...
Reading installed packages...
Resolving package dependencies...

The following NEW package is going to be installed:
  i3

1 new package to install.
Overall download size: 953.7 KiB. Already cached: 0 B. After the operation, additional 1.7 MiB will be used.

ivan@swift3:~> sudo zypper remove -u i3
Reading installed packages...
Resolving package dependencies...

The following 16 packages are going to be REMOVED:
  dmenu i3 i3lock i3status libconfuse2 libev4 libstartup-notification-1-0 libxcb-xrm0 perl-AnyEvent perl-AnyEvent-I3 perl-common-sense perl-Guard
  perl-JSON perl-JSON-XS perl-Task-Weaken perl-Types-Serialiser

16 packages to remove.
After the operation, 3.9 MiB will be freed.

Conclusions

So far I’ve noticed some things that OpenSUSE decides to do a bit differently, and even some rough edges as you can see, but I’ll continue my exploration and be open-minded.

Some things are really frustrating while others require a bit more playing to resolve them. In any case, if those were solved for me by the distribution maintainers, I’d be much happier with the distribution.

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Sysadmin on the everlasting journey of learning.

2 Comments

  1. Vlad

    2020-12-28 - 10:10
    Reply

    Thanks for the article. I’ve recently migrated my complete setup from my laptop to my desktop and went on a distro-hopping adventure. I have installed openSUSE Tumbleweed a few days ago and found myself battling the same things as you mentioned along with a random kernel panic when using the latest 5.10.x kernel (5.9.x still works), might try Leap which is currently on 5.3.x. Last time I tried openSUSE for development I found myself battling AppArmor for file permissions using node/npm and had to manually whitelist a lot of files. I might give Fedora a try too. I’ve been using Pop!_OS for a while now and I grew so fond of it, especially of the Pop Shell and its tiling feature.

    • Ivan Tomica

      2020-12-28 - 10:27
      Reply

      It seems to me that for some time OpenSUSE is just lacking proper finishing touches, and due to that, it always leaves bitter taste each time I try it. Although, I’m most grateful for all of their community contributions.

      Ubuntu is a great OS, and Pop_OS! which is built upon it extends that niceness, especially with their GNOME polish, ease of use etc. I hear only good things about it. I still prefer Fedora though, perhaps due to “vanilla” experience, perhaps due to that proper polish and finishing touches… It has been rock solid for me ever since Fedora Next with version 20 was started.

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