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Linux hints and tips

Choose between GNOME and KDE in openSUSE

When you install openSUSE you are asked to choose between the KDE desktop or GNOME. Which is best? Which one should you choose? Is there any way of trying them both to see which one you like?

It is not possible to say whether KDE or GNOME is the best desktop environment because they are so different. Some people prefer GNOME and others like KDE, and it is largely a matter of taste and which features suit you best. The choice you make is a personal one.

Whichever desktop you choose in openSUSE, you aren't stuck with it forever and you can have both desktops and try them boeth to see which one you like the most.

To set this up you first need to stop automatic login if it is enabled on your PC. It is useful to to be able to switch on the computer and go straight to the desktop if you are the only user of your computer and security doesn't concern you, but we must disable this feature. Open the Control Center and then run User and Group Management. On the users tab, click the Expert Options button and select Login Settings from the pop-up menu. Clear the tick against Auto-Login and click OK, OK to close the dialog and window.

Tip!
The simplest way to install KDE in openSUSE with GNOME is to go here and click one of the buttons. There's KDE 4.1, 4.2 and 4.3.

Run Install Software (Sofware Manager - YaST) and click the button with the pop-up menu offering Groups, Patterns, Languages and Repositories. Select Patterns. Scroll down the list of items to Graphical Environments and select GNOME Desktop Environment and Base System if you have KDE or KDE4 Desktop Environment and Base System if you have GNOME.

Click Apply to start the installation. If you have installed from a full DVD you'll be prompted to put the DVD in so that the files can be installed from it (probably a bit of downloading and reading from the DVD will be required), but if you have installed from a KDE or GNOME CD you'll find that the files are downloaded. They are around 1Gb, so it can take some time to download.

Choose GNOME or KDEWhen installation is complete you can restart openSUSE. Startup will stop at the login screen and before you log in you can choose the desktop to use. The menu option may be in the bottom left corner of the screen and clicking the link displays a pop-up menu that enables you to choose the desktop you want to use.

You may find that there is a menu button in the login box and that this enables you to select the desktop. The last used desktop is selected by default and you can choose GNOME or KDE.

Problems switching from GNOME to KDE?

Sometimes things go wrong and you don't get a choice of desktop at the login screen. This can happen when you have a GNOME desktop and try to switch to KDE - the menu just isn't there on the login screen. The solution is to start YaST and run the ect/sysconfig editor. Go to Desktop, DISPLAY MANAGER, DISPLAYMANAGER and change the gdm setting to kdm. Then go to Window Manager, DEFAULT_WM and set it to kde. Now shut down and restart.

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