Gnome desktop, triple boot, install failure

I’m installing openSUSE 13.2/32 from a USB and the checksum matches. sda is an SSD and sdb is a HHD.

Mint 17.1/64 is installed on sda1 and Ubuntu 14.04/64 is installed on sda3, sda2 is open for openSUSE 13.2/32. Home is at sdb1, swap is on sdb5, and I used the SUSE recommendation of booting from the root partition, sda2 in this case. SUSE installs but I only get the iceWM desktop. If I select Gnome at login the screen goes black and cycles back to the login display.

If I install SUSE with home at sda4, which is otherwise not used, I can select the Gnome desktop and everything works properly, except that all my application configurations are at the other home. I suspected a config file conflict so I copied all the hidden files from the sda4 (SUSE only) home to the sdb1 (everybody’s) home, reinstalled SUSE using the sdb1 home, and came back to the same problem. Mint and Ubuntu both still work properly so the config transfer didn’t bork anything.

After the install I left the SUSE grub in control until I confirmed the problem. Then I put the Mint grub in control for no change, except that Mint is now the default menu selection.

So, where do I look for the problem? Am I doomed to having no SUSE in my life?

Which media did you use?
The DVD installer for OS 13.2 had problems in writing the GRUB configuration to the BTRFS (default /root) partition with 512 byte sectors.
If this is your problem, try installing with an EXT4 filesystem for /root.
If you can login on a command line terminal, you might also try to update the system to the last updated packages before logging in with Gnome.

Or you might also try to install Tumbleweed.
Personally, I’m using both OS 13.2 and Tumbleweed (X86_64) with Gnome, so nothing is basically broken there.

Wait a moment, maybe I misunderstood your problem.
The installation with /home at sda4 (the SSD fourth partition) WORKS; maybe THIS is what was originally installed and configured.
How did you switch to “everybody’s home” sdb1 (the first partition on the HDD)?
Look at Yast - Partitioner, and read which partition is effectively mounted as /home in the two cases.
I suspect that in sdb1 there might be NO directory named <your username> or, if there is one, something is broken therein.
Maybe you are using the same username with one of the other installed Linuxes, messing things up.
Apparently, in sda4 you should find a directory named <your username> and everything is OK there.

Try logging in as root, this is not dependent on /home. If everything works, you may reconfigure your system from the root account, possibly create a new user, to your liking.

I’m not completely sure here. But I think your problem comes from using the same “/home” partition with several distros. So you are getting some inconsistencies in the user settings.

There are various tricks for avoiding this. One possibility is to use different user names for each distro. So, for example, if your name is “john”, then have the user “johnm” for Mint, “johno” for opensuse, and “johnu” for Ubuntu.

OrsoBruno: The way I switched was a complete reinstall. I used the same username (mike) with each OS so I would have the same access to data files. With SUSE home at sda4 I was able to use file manager to look over at sdb1 and see the data files. The operational problem is that config files, such as Firefox bookmarks, are in the wrong home. The Gnome problem occurs when I do the same SUSE install with home at sdb1, which solves the data/config access issues. With SUSE home at sda4 I was able to experience SUSE with the Gnome desktop and see what all the fuss was about, but I will be unable to use SUSE for regular business.

nrickert: From my various SUSE install attempts I agree the problem comes from accessing sdb1 from several directions. I was hoping to find the specific problem/conflict so I could launch any OS and still take care of business. If I use different usernames with each OS I could find the data files but the configs would be wrong.

Mint uses Mate and Ubuntu uses Unity. Lacking a specific problem I am coming to the conclusion that the various desktop configurations are in conflict, and I don;'t know a way to get around that. It seems strange to me that a config conflict prevents Gnome from even launching.

Both Linux Mint and Ubuntu are Debian derivatives, so maybe they are able to “live” on the same home.
OpenSuse has a different directory structure, and apparently you installed the 32 bit version while the other Linuxes are 64 bit.

You can have the same <username> use a different home, say /home/<alternate_username>, then link via symbolic links the configuration folders for your favourite apps to those in the “everybody’s home”.
(But please be sure that the OpenSuse Firefox, say, uses directories the same way the Mint Firefox does, I’m not sure about that).
If you don’t specify a separate /home at install, OpenSuse just creates /home in the root partition, if you prefer not mixing things and not having a separate partition for the OpenSuse /home.

Either way, using different usernames for different systems is simpler IMHO, as nrickert pointed out.
If you are careful and “johno”, “johnm” and “johnu” all use the same USERNUMBER (say, 1000 if they are the first user created on each OS), they can still share a common structure of folders for Documents, Downloads and so on, without the OSs ever noticing the difference.

Anything of the above makes sense to you?

No it only installs 32 bit if you install the 32 bit version.

Mixing homes just will not work in the long run because the different OS are at different version of the desktop. You need separate home for the desktop configs you can define a shared partition and link to it in each of the homes. But the config files must be separate or you will have problems. If the desktop versions are close enough you may be able to get away with it or if you use different desktops ie gnome on one and KDE on another the problem comes from different versions accessing the same configs since the configs ae set in different directories.

.One way to deal is to set up a shared partition and do not mount a home partition but just mount the shared at some location in your home. So each OS will have it’s own home on root and all share common data area.