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Saturday, October 29, 2005

Hacking OpenSUSE

Eversince I've used my first Linux (Mandrake 9.2) I never wanted to go back to Windows. And in pursuit of finding the best Linux Distro, I find some time to install the latest OpenSUSE 10.0. I donwloaded the 5 CD ISO, burn to CD and install. Since I have many Workstations and only got 2 CD-ROMS to swap around, I tried looking for a way such that after installing OpenSUSE 10.0, I will no longer need any CDs if I want to add other packages. And here I found an article by Jem Mantzan about how to maximize your user experience in SUSE.

When you’re done installing OpenSUSE 10.0, your desktop system is not complete. You still need support for Java programs, MP3 audio files, and browser plugins for Macromedia Flash, Adobe Acrobat, RealPlayer, and Windows Media Video. You may also want to add support for playing DVD videos on your computer. Here’s how to effectively make the open source version of OpenSUSE 10.0 into SUSE Linux 10.0.

OpenSUSE is comprised entirely of free, open source software. What you will be doing in this tutorial is installing proprietary add-ons that add functionality. All of the browser plugins are proprietary and will require you to agree to software licenses. The DVD playback capabilities are in violation of the U.S. Digital Millennium Copyright Act (and similar laws in other countries), which many believe to be unconstitutional and a violation of consumer fair use rights. Click here for more information on DMCA reform. In other words, installing the DVD decoding software could be illegal where you live; therefore I’m not telling you to do it, but I’ll tell you how it’s done for educational and informational purposes.

Adding sources to YaST

First you’ll need to add some software repositories to your YaST installation sources list. Go into the YaST utility by clicking on the green Gecko menu in the lower left corner of your screen. Select System, then click on Control Center (YaST). You’ll be prompted for your root password. Go ahead and type it in, check the box next to Keep Password, and click OK.

You’re now in YaST, and the Software category is already selected by default. Click on the Installation Source icon. This will bring up a window that will allow you to add software repositories so that you can download the add-on software. You’ll notice that your CD or DVD installation media is already listed. Go ahead and disable it by clicking the Enable Or Disable button — we’re going to add an Internet address that will replace your discs. That way if you need to add software from the CDs or DVD, you can get the packages from the Internet instead of putting a disc into your computer. If you need to, you can just as easily enable the CD/DVD source later.

Click the Add button, then click on HTTP in the popup menu. Add the following Internet address to the Server Name field and then click on OK:

Now repeat this process and add the following servers to your installation sources using the FTP option instead of HTTP:


Without adding the preceding sources, it will not be possible to follow the next three steps. You can now close the Installation Source window.

Installing Thunderbird

OpenSUSE 10.0 doesn’t come with Mozilla Thunderbird. If you’re a Thunderbird fan, rather than download it separately, why not install it properly through YaST?

Go back to YaST, then select Package Management. In the Search box, type in MozillaThunderbird and click on Search. Click on the MozillaThunderbird checkbox in the right-hand pane, then click on Accept. When it’s done, click on Finish to go back to YaST.

Java support

To add support for the Java language both for standalone applications and as a browser plugin for Web applets, go into YaST, then select Package Management. In the Search box, type in sun and click Search. A bunch of packages will show up in the right-hand pane. Click the checkbox next to the following packages:

  • java-1_5_0-sun
  • java-1_5_0-sun-alsa
  • java-1_5_0-sun-jdbc
  • java-1_5_0-sun-plugin

There is no harm in selecting all of the java-1_5_0-sun packages (you’ll notice that there are a few more that weren’t selected), but they are not necessary for running Java programs. If you’re a Java programmer, of course you’ll want at least some of the other packages. When you’re done selecting them, click on Accept. When it’s done installing, click on Finish in the popup window to go back to YaST. Your computer will now be able to run Java programs and applets.

Flash, Acrobat, Windows Media, MP3, and RealMedia support

Go back into the YaST software manager. In the Search box, type in w32codec-all and click on Search. A single package should appear in the right-hand pane. Click the checkbox next to it.

Erase your previous search term in the Search box, type in acroread and click on Search. Click the checkbox next to the acroread package in the right-hand pane. You’ll have to accept a software license agreement to continue.

Now search for flash and click Search. Select that package for installation by clicking its checkbox and agreeing to its license.

Search for realplayer and click Search. Click its checkbox. You only need the RealPlayer package itself — the other search results are not necessary.

Search for mplayer and click Search. Click its checkbox. You don’t need the other package that appears in the search results.

Search for kaffeine-mozilla and click Search. Click its checkbox.

When you’ve done all of this, click on Accept. Other packages will be dependent on some of these, so you’ll have to click Continue in the Automatic Changes screen that comes up. After that, all of the packages you just selected will be installed and your Firefox Web browser will have all of the plugins it needs. You’ll also have the ability to play MP3 music files. A popup window will appear when it’s done — just click on Finish and you’ll be brought back to YaST.

DVD playback

I couldn’t find any SUSE installation sources for the DVD decoding program, so you’ll have to download it on your own. Go to your Gecko menu, then select Internet, then Web Browser, then click on Web Browser (Konqueror). When Konqueror opens, copy and paste in this address:

Or just click here if you want a link. Konqueror will ask you what you want to do with the file. You could save it to your Desktop, then double-click it to install it, but an easier way is to select the Open With button. That will bring up a popup window. In that window, click on System, then Configuration, then Package Manager (KPackage). (If you do not have KPackage installed, go back to the YaST software manager and install the kdeadmin3 package, then restart this process.) The KPackage program will read the DVD decoding package from the Web. Click on the Install button at the bottom of the KPackage window, then click on Install in the next window too. You will be asked for your root password; type it in and press Enter. Shortly thereafter, the DVD decoding library will be installed. Click on the Done button, then close KPackage and Konqueror.

Next you’ll have to modify the video player so that it will play DVDs. While it originally had this functionality built in, Novell has removed it to make life more difficult for people who want to watch DVDs on their computer.

Go into YaST and select Software Management. The familiar package selection screen will come up. In the Search box, type in xine and then click Search. About two dozen entries will appear in the right-hand pane. Right-click on all of the blue-colored packages (there should be at least two) and select Update from the drop-down menu. Click on Accept when you’re done, and then click on Continue in the ensuing Automatic Changes screen. The updated software will now download and install properly. When it’s finished, a popup window will ask you if you’d like to install more software. Click on Finish and you’ll be brought back to YaST’s software manager.

You now have the ability to play commercial DVD movies on your computer — put one in and try it, if it’s legal where you are. A popup message should appear when you put in a DVD movie. If it asks you if you want to play the movie with Kaffeine, click on Yes and you’ll go straight to the video player. In some instances the disc may be recognized as a data disc, and SUSE will ask you if you want to open the DVD with K3b. In that case, click on Ignore, then go to the Gecko menu, select Multimedia, then Video Player, then click on Media Player (Kaffeine). When Kaffeine starts, click on the Open DVD icon.

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