Friday, October 29, 2010

OpenSUSE 10.3

It’s been quite some time since I last used my OpenSUSE (I have a dual-boot machine and do most of my research projects using Windows tools). Now I am looking for a job and UNIX familiarity seems a precious resource. So… I switched back to OpenSUSE. I have been using SUSE since version 8. I tried Ubuntu again and again, the device driver problems bited me again and again while OpenSuSe always came to my rescure.

Here are something I did to set up the OpenSUSE 10.3 box as my daily development machine.

1) Install Sun J2SE. The default gcj is cool but I’d prefer Sun’s JDK more. Here is a reasonably good tutorial to set up J2SE: Besides using update-alternatives to add java, I also added javac in a similar manner.

There is one thing that I found incorrect in this tutorial: if you add his into /etc/profile.d/, this messed up the PATH variable somehow and gdm even cannot start correctly. So, instead I added these to my ~/.profile:
export JAVAHOME=/opt/jdk1.6.006

  1. Install Netbeans (as of writing, 6.1 is still RC2). Netbeans 6 caught up very quickly to Eclipse and it did a great job to integrate lots of useful things in nice packages. Since it also has good support for C/C++ development and Ruby, I decided to use it on OpenSuSe.

However, no matter what I did, there are always problems during installation. First, even though there is only one installation wizard running, it always says “there is another installation instance running, are you sure you want to start a new instance?”, yes, of course. Then it dies and Bug-Buddy, a GUI-based bug reporting application shows up and installation wizard simply crashes. I found someone having the same problem and his solution is to uninstall Bug-Buddy and try installation again, it worked!!!

BTW, you can choose to download and install JDK together with Netbeans. In this case, you still need to add Java plugin to Firefox and update alternatives for java and javac.

  1. Install Aptana Studio. This is my current Web application IDE. It support ajax, PHP, RoR, AIR, and iPhone development, covering all major ajax libraries you will find today. And its community version is FREE! You can forget about Dreamweaver, Frontpage, M$ Expression Web, etc. Well, if you are into ASP.NET development, probably you still need VS.NET though.

  2. Add several software update sources (I installed OpenSUSE using a live Gnome CD): OpenSUSE non-open source and open source, Mozilla, Gnome stable, etc. With these update sources, you can install software unavailable to the live Gnome installation CD.

  3. Update Firefox to the latest stable version. It is still 2.0.0.x as of now. I have been using FF3pre, code named Minefield for sometime on Windows now and it simply blew me away with performance and new features like smart URL address field.

Install these plugins for FF: Greasemonkey, BetterGmail2, Firebug, Session Manager,

  1. Update pidgin, the IM application for linux, to latest stable version. Activate two plugins “historys” and “conversion colors”. The default font size is 12, too big for me and I changed it to 10. The default theme is quite ugly, especially the system tray icon. So, you can find a Pidgin theme on gnome-look made by Embrace.

Go download this Human Pidgin Theme (I guess it is made for Ubuntu based on colors) from here.

Then, login as root. Unpack the package and you will see two directories: pidgin and Style. Use pidgin to replace /usr/share/pixmaps/pidgin directory, which contains original theme. Make a backup if you want to roll back later. The Style directory is a bit confusing and it actually adds a background image. To use it, simply copy pidgin_bg.jpg and .gtkrc-2.0 to your home directory.

Now, start pidgin and you will see a more polished interface.

  1. Install new login window themes, gnome application window themes and mouse icon themes. I like Mac themes but don’t have the money right now to buy a Macbook Pro, so I can tune my OpenSUSE at least look similar.

Application Themes: Go to first using Firefox. Then, open “Appearance Preference” window (computer->control center->Appearance (under look and feel). Then, just drag a theme to your “Appearance Preference” window and it will get installed automatically. Then, choose that newly installed theme. I am using Glossy P theme and it looks like Mac style.

Login Themes: login as root first. Type “gdmsetup” on the terminal and this opens up gdm settings. In “Local” tab, you will see currently installed login themes. Choose one you like.

Or, go to, download a new login theme and install it in gdmsetup window. It says you can drag and drop to install, but I did not succeeded somehow and choosed “Add…” to manually install the themes. I am using “Sunergos Blue GDM Theme” and I like it a lot, simple and beautiful.

Mouse themes: you can download a theme pack from and unpack it to ~/.icons. For example, mine icon pack name is Obsidian. Then, after you unpack it into .icons directory, it becomes ~/.icons/Obsidian, rename it to ~/.icons/default and logout and login to see the new effect. I am using a theme called “ShereKhanX” to match the Mac window theme.

You can also customize splash screen, but I will leave it for later.

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