Recommendations about Tumbleweed installation (e.g., some concerns and file system choice)

Hy guys!

I’m thinking about giving openSUSE another try. I usually use Ubuntu or Debian, but I’m trying to get away from Ubuntu/Debian-based distros. This will to change has started because my laptop is having sleeping issues with the official Ubuntu 16.04 LTS kernel (I have to use a mainline kernel build instead) and there have also been a few other bugs here and there that I’ve always felt that have been neglected in the Ubuntu and Debian community.

I have sporadically tried and hopped between other distros, including openSUSE. In fact, I used openSUSE 13.2 for a few months but I ended up screwing up my install because I mixed repositories that I shouldn’t have mixed and then run a zypper dup (my bad, I know!). That said, I will probably go with Tumbleweed this time. Leap seems a wonderful distribution, and I would love to use it on a server or other areas where stability is a must, but I like to keep stuff relatively up to date and that’s why I kept using Ubuntu on my laptop (updating on every release, LTS or not). In fact, I wouldn’t consider using any distro with an update cycle longer than 6 months (so basically, I stuck with Ubuntu, Fedora or rolling releases like openSUSE Tumbleweed and Arch Linux). Still, I like to have a minimum amount of stability and openSUSE Tumbleweed seems to offer that (from what I’ve seen it seems to be slightly more conservative than Arch Linux). I use my laptop for everyday computing, programming (mainly C/C++, Java, PHP, Python, HTML/CSS/JavaScript, etc.) so I like to have the most recent stuff available on the repositories, but I also hate that stuff suddenly breaks. That’s why a 6 months update rate has always had a nice equilibrium between this two, somewhat contradicting objectives. I hope that openSUSE Tumbleweed does not sacrifice too much stability and reliability in exchange for freshness, but we shall see if that’s the case or not if I really ended up giving it a try.

Meanwhile, I’m still unsure about which filesystem should I use. This is a dualboot system where I keep a separate NTFS partition for Windows and another NTFS partition for my data. This data partition basically serves as my home on both Windows and Linux, so I usually don’t keep a separate / and /home partitions like openSUSE recommends. I just mount my data folder and put some symlinks on my home. Besides that, there is little else on my home other than “dot files” and “dot folders”. Still, on a different system (running Linux alone) I would definitely use a separate /home partition. What I find a bit odd is that the official recommendation is to use XFS, a file system that I’m not very familiar with but that it seems to offer almost nothing over a more conservative choice such as ext4. I mean, it even has such a limitation as being impossible to shrink it if needed. It may make sense on very specific use cases where it really shines, but as a general recommendation over ext4, it seems a bit pointless and may actually be detrimental. What do you think about this?

So, that leaves with /. Which file system would you recommend? Do you think that btrfs is really the way to go? I mean, I know it’s the default on openSUSE, but I haven’t seen any other distro adopting as the default. I know it has been considered stable for quite some time know, and that it offers some really nice features that would otherwise need to be managed by higher level tools (e.g., LVM). However, isn’t it a bit “overkill” to use for common desktop/laptop use? The only thing that I may actually eventually use are the snapshots. I mean, if some update screws up something, which is more likely to happen on Tumbleweed than on Leap, I can always rollback to the state just before the update. It also may prevent me from breaking my system if I choose the wrong repositories, even though this time I’ll just limit myself to the official Tumbleweed repositories + Packman for Tumbleweed. At most, I may add a Tumbleweed specific repository for some package that I really need that is unavailable at the main repos + Packman and I’ll keep my use of zypper dup to the minimum necessary :P.

Still, other than snapshots, I don’t see myself using any of btrfs’ advanced features. Is it worth to use it just for that? Does it really have the overall level of reliability and performance that an older file system such as ext4 has? I just wary about this change because my current / is in ext4 and this has been the file system that I’ve been using on Linux like forever (I mean, I’ve used ext3 and probably ext2 before). Should I just jump to btrfs and embrace it?

Thanks in advance for any tips you may give me.

Nothing wrong with ext4 and BTRFS with snapper does need about twice the space to avoid running out of space. Tumbleweed has lots of huge updates so snapshots must be accounted for.

Some of the bells and whistles promised by BTRFS are still not there even though the basic file system appears to be stable. XFS is ok but then I don’t see any great advantage over ext4.

Just select whatever file system you comfortable with… I use btrfs (must be well over two years now) on both openSUSE and SLED/SLES without issues, just configure snapper and your good to go. My Tumbleweed system has a 30GB root partition, just run a cleanup after a big update if everything is going ok.

When you mention “keeping things up to date”, you mean features? Else the openSUSE Leap release backport any security fixes etc for the duration, so you may se have an other version number, but that doesn’t mean it’s not up to date security (and some bugs as well) wise.

If you want additional features, you can always look at the development repo’s to cherry pick tools/packages etc.

I may end up going with btrfs, I’ve seen nothing wrong with it. Other than old stability/reliability issues that have since been resolved, it seems to perform on par with the ext4 for general use. And the added benefit of keeping snapshots it’s an interesting feature, especially on a rolling release that is more prone to let some severe issue reach an update than on fixed schedule distros.

Also, I do now it uses more space. I understand that the twice as much space is a rule of thumb. But I also intend to tweak the automatic snapshot settings so that I don’t end up with a disk filled with snapshots. I usually use a 40GB root partition. I hope it’s enough.

Yes. I meant features. I do know that Leap, and other non-rolling distros, tend to backport security fixes and even some bug fixes (if the bug is severe enough).

Meanwhile, although I’m aware that openSUSE has moved a away from official Live images, I wanted to test a Live environment on my system before committing to a full install, just to be sure that my hardware has been properly detected. Leap has no Live images available (well, I could “cook” one up at the SUSE Studio), but Tumbleweed has GNOME and KDE images available at:

I don’t have a DVD drive on my laptop so I used dd to create put the image on a USB drive. It kinda of worked… I’m able to boot it, but while the system is loading, the Tumbleweed logo appears and the three dots keep changing, until it drops to a black screen with some white text (nothing that seems to be an error) and sits there forever, until the laptop spontaneously reboots. I’m not sure if it is the same problem as the one reported here:

I wanted to try the suggested solution of setting kiwi_hybridpersistent=false as kernel option, however I’m unable to find an option on the Live USB boot screen to change the kernel parameters before starting the system. This option is usually available if you press an F key or something, but I’ve not seen such option this time. Any tips?

EDIT: I think that the reason why I’m not presented with an option to change the kernel parameters is that my laptop runs in EFI mode and menu lacks that option in that mode. Any idea on how to circumvent that (other than changing to BIOS mode)?

Press the e key to edit the grub options direct, once finished your edits, F10 to proceed…

40GB should be fine, first thing to do is edit /etc/snapper/configs/root file and set the number limit down, I just use 2 and 1 as this is only a test system dual booting with osX.

Thanks for the GRUB tip. That did the trick. I believe that this is a bug regarding Live USB persistence capabilities. If fixing it is not priority, at least I think they should disable it by default to make life easier for users. Besides that, even if openSUSE doesn’t want to officially support Live images as installation media, I still think that it would be good to have them available (for Leap, besides Tumbleweed) as a away to just check out if the system works as intended on your hardware. Some distributions used to be like that. IIRC very early Ubuntu Live CDs didn’t have an installer option at all. I would rather see Live images being fully supported, but a middle ground such as the one I suggested would be good enough for me.

Unfortunately it seems that the sleep function of my laptop is also bugged on openSUSE Tumbleweed (kernel 4.5.0) as it is on Ubuntu 16.04 official kernel based on the 4.4.x LTS line. I’ve never had this kind of problems on this laptop (nearly 3 years old) up until kernel 4.2. I’ve never used 4.3, but starting from 4.4 I’ve been having some issues :frowning:

Fire up YaST -> Bootloader and add the kernel option;

acpi_osi=\"!Windows 2012\"

or other variants of acpi options.