Installing openSUSE 10.2 on Virtual PC Step by Step

My “Installing Ubuntu on VirtualPC Step by Step” post (http://arcanecode.wordpress.com/2006/12/19/installing-ubuntu-on-virtualpc-step-by-step/) continues to be one of the top read posts on my blog each day. I thought it was about time to look at another Linux distribution, openSUSE.

In November 2006 Microsoft and Novell announced a new initiative, stating they were collaborating on Linux / Windows interoperability. Read the full press release at http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/press/2006/nov06/11-02MSNovellPR.mspx or http://shrinkster.com/lwl.

In the spirit of collaboration, many of you may wish to explore openSUSE but may not have a spare machine to use it on. VirtualPC is the answer to your problem.

Before we begin, you’ll need to download a few components. First, you need Microsoft VirtualPC itself. http://www.microsoft.com/windows/virtualpc/default.mspx or http://shrinkster.com/lwm. I’m using the 2007 Beta RC1, but this should work with 2004 as well. Previously I’ve installed openSUSE 10.1 on VirtualPC 2004 with no problems.

Next you will need the openSUSE.distribution, http://en.opensuse.org/Welcome_to_openSUSE.org or http://shrinkster.com/lwn is the place to grab it.

Be warned OpenSUSE ISO image is quite large, you’ll be a while downloading it. You will probably want to burn it to a DVD. If you don’t have a DVD burner handy, you can also use the Microsoft Virtual CD tool (which will work for DVDs too). I blogged about it at http://arcanecode.wordpress.com/2006/09/13/.

A quick note, there are, as of this writing some issues with openSUSE 10.2 not recognizing the sound drivers with Virtual PC 2007 RC1. If sound is important to you, consider staying with Virtual PC 2004, or use openSUSE 10.1. As sound wasn’t that big of a deal, I used 10.2 and VPC 2007, but I’ve also installed 10.1 under VPC 2004 and my experience was almost identical to what I write about here.

Finally before you get started, spend a few minutes getting familiar with VirtualPC if you have not already done so. You can find my step by step instructions for VirtualPC at http://arcanecode.wordpress.com/2006/09/20/virtual-pc-step-by-step/. Keep it handy, at various points I will be referring to it.

Like now. In Step 1 of my VirtualPC Step by Step you are instructed to create a new machine, please do so. I’ve named mine “openSUSE”. In step 2, you are prompted for your OS. You will need to pick Other. In step 3, you are asked about Ram. openSUSE will run OK under 256 megs, however if you have the available space I’d highly suggest upping it to 512, especially if you intend to get into doing some graphics or mono coding.

In step 4 you will want to create a new hard disk, and in step 5 confirm what you’ve selected. OK, now you are up to step 6, installing the OS, which is where this tutorial picks up.

The first thing you will see is the boot screen. Here it asks if you want to boot from the hard drive (you can’t as nothing’s installed yet on your virtual hard disk) or install in a variety of methods. Hit the down arrow so “Install” is highlighted and hit the Enter key.

[openSUSE 01]


The screen will turn blue, churn for a bit, then black with a little clock. Be patient, it’s working. Finally, you get to see a screen to begin your installation journey. On the first one, you get to select which language you want. Select your language of choice, and click next.

[openSUSE 02]


Next you are shown the license agreement. If you are hyped up on Jolt Cola and Double Espressos and need some sleep go ahead and read through it. Otherwise, click the “Yes I agree”, then click next.

[openSUSE 03]


Now you are asked what mode you are doing the install in. Since this is a fresh machine the only valid option is New Installation. If there had been an older version of openSUSE on the machine you would also have the upgrade option. For now, take the default of New Installation and click Next.

[openSUSE 04]


The openSUSE installer will now do some System Analysis. It will read over your system and produce you a list of what it’s going to install. It’ll take a minute or two, so be patient.

On the next screen you are asked about the Time Zone. Pick the time zone you live in and press next.

[openSUSE 05]


Now comes your first difficult decision. openSUSE wants you to pick a default desktop. Unlike Windows, Linux will let you pick from a variety of desktop shells. The desktop defines the look and feel of what you see as you interact with the computer.

If you are a Windows user, you might be more comfortable with the KDE desktop. It has a start bar and “K” menu across the bottom. On the other hand Gnome has something more akin to a look and feel from the Mac line. There are others out there, but these are the top two.

There’s one other item to take into consideration. If you intend to do any coding using Mono, you will need to use the Gnome desktop. The last time I checked, the majority of the Mono development tools were designed for the Gnome desktop. (I don’t claim to be a Mono expert, so if this is incorrect please feel free to leave an enlightening comment.) Mono, by the way, is the open source implementation of the Microsoft .Net Framework. Using Mono you can write C# code for a Linux environment.

Don’t stress over this too much. The nice thing about Linux is you can change your mind later, or you can try out a new desktop just to see what it’s like without making a permanent change to your default desktop.

Since one day I hope to dabble in Mono, I will pick the Gnome desktop and click Next.

[openSUSE 06]


OK, getting close. Now openSUSE will show you an installation summary, with everything it’s going to do and install. Give it a glance, and if you are happy with your options click Next.

[openSUSE 07]


This is where the folks at Novell like to play an April Fool joke, in that you only thought you were done with license agreements. In the 10.2 version I downloaded, I’m additionally asked to confirm the licenses for some Adobe product and the Flash player. I clicked OK on both.

[openSUSE 08]

[openSUSE 09]


OK, openSUSE asks you one last time if you are sure. We are (well at least I am) so click Install to begin the install.

[openSUSE 10]


Now sit back and wait. And wait. And wait some more. This thing takes a long time to install, for me the counter started at over 2 hours, although in the end it didn’t take that long.

First you’ll see some screens that talk about preparing your hard disk. Don’t worry, it’s the virtual disk it’s formatting, you’re safe. Finally you’ll see this screen as it begins the process.

[openSUSE 11]


Over to the right you’ll see the count down timer, and the center part will change during the install, giving you nice little tidbits and tricks. This would be a good time to refill your coffee, put some Jolt Cola on ice and order that pizza. You’ll be sitting here a while. (While you’re waiting might be a good time to explore some of my other posts, LOL.)

One real important thing: if your VirtualPC screen goes blank during the install, don’t freak out! Believe it or not, the screen saver is actually active during the install. All you have to do is click inside the VirtualPC window. The screen will then update to show you where it’s at in the install process.

After it’s finally done, it will tell you it’s going to reboot. Go ahead and let it, obviously. If you do nothing, the machine will reboot itself.

After the reboot you’ll see the same screen you saw when you first started, assuming you didn’t eject the openSUSE dvd. Pick the “Boot from Hard Disk” option, or if you do nothing it will take it as the default.

[openSUSE 12]


The next screen asks if you want the default of openSUSE 10.2, to boot off of Floppy, or the Failsafe mode for 10.2. Failsafe is kind of like Safe Mode under XP. Normally you’ll pick the openSUSE 10.2 option, which is what we will do now. (Doing nothing by the way will automatically select this.)

[openSUSE 13]


After the system finally gets done rebooting, there are some final installation steps that need to take place. First, you are taken to a screen and asked what you want the root user password to be. This is the master password for the system, you need this to install software or do any serious maintenance. Enter something secure, but easy to remember. Most of all don’t forget it, or your lovely Linux install will become severely handicapped. Enter your chosen password now, then click next.

[openSUSE 14]


Next you are prompted for a host name and domain name. Take the defaults and click Next.

[openSUSE 15]


In the next window you are asked about the network configuration. Be patient while openSUSE examines your virtual system. When done, just click Next to take the defaults it finds.

[openSUSE 16]


At the end of the network configuration, openSUSE wants to test your connection. Assuming you are connected to the web, leave Yes selected and click next to perform the test. Now, when I tried to do the test, it kept failing on me. I puzzled, fumed, changed things, but could find nothing wrong.

Finally, out of desperation, I clicked the Back button to return to the screen below, then told it to skip the test, and go on. By golly, it actually worked just fine! I guess the problem is on the Novell end, as openSUSE happily proceeded to download all sorts of online updates with no problems. Your experience may vary a little, but if you try the test and it fails, try using the Back button, tell it No, skip the test, and go on from there. I’m betting it’ll work OK for you too.

[openSUSE 17]


The online update is next, here openSUSE will try to download the latest patches and what-not for your system. You have the option to skip by picking No, but I would suggest you let it run so you can have all the latest security updates and bug fixes. (Note if you are not hooked to the internet, or were unable to get the networking to work, you will want to skip this step.)

As the first step in the updates, you are asked about additional installation sources. For now, take the defaults as shown and tell it Yes, to register the checked sources.

[openSUSE 18]


You will now see a series of update screens flash by as your system is updated from the internet. The screen will look something like this:

[openSUSE 19]

Just let it go, it will take a bit (especially if you have a slow connection). When it’s done openSUSE will automatically take you to the next area.


In this next area you are prompted for users. First, you are asked about the method for authenticating users. There are some nice options here, including the ability to check against a windows domain. For our purposes though, the default of Local (/etc/passwd) will do just fine, so click Next.

[openSUSE 20]


Next you are prompted for user info. Enter your name, what user name you’d like to have, and a password for that user. There’s also a checkbox for Automatic Login. If you will be the only one using this VirtualPC, you can leave this checked on.

On the other hand, if you will be sharing this VPC with friends, you may wish to uncheck this. When you do so openSUSE will request you to login each time. One last note, you will want to make your password different from the one you entered for the root user. It’s not a requirement, but it is a good idea. Once you have entered everything, click Next.

[openSUSE 21]


OK, now sit back and wait a few minutes, as openSUSE is going to finish setting up your user account, then is going to run some cleanup.

[openSUSE 22]


When the cleanup is done you are automatically shown the release notes. This describes changes and the like since the last version. Take a quick glance, and know that you can always pull these up later if you are in a hurry. Go ahead and click Next when you are done.

[openSUSE 23]


In this last step you are shown your hardware configuration and asked to confirm it’s what you want to use. While it’s examining your config your screen may switch back to a text display, then back to the graphical installer. This is normal behavior, just be aware of it.

When it’s done examining, you’ll be ready to click Next. Note one item, there have been some issues with openSUSE not detecting the sound card of Virtual PC 2007. If sound is extremely critical to you, consider sticking with either VPC 2004, or drop back to openSUSE 10.1.

I can wait for the sound issue to get fixed in a later patch, so I’ll be clicking Next at this point.

[openSUSE 24]


You’ve hit the finish line! You installation is complete, all you have to do now is click the Finish button.

[openSUSE 25]


When you do, openSUSE will complete a few tasks, then ‘reboot’ your virtual system. This will take a few minutes, and when done you are logged in and ready to use your openSUSE Virtual PC.

[openSUSE 26]


Click on the “Computer” icon in the lower left, to begin exploring your openSUSE installation.

[openSUSE 27]


To get up and running with openSUSE I’d recommend a good podcast to you called Linux Reality. Chess Griffin is the host, and did a great three part tutorial on openSUSE at these links:

Part 1: http://www.linuxreality.com/podcast/episode-16-suse-linux-101-part-1/

Or: http://shrinkster.com/lxh

Part2: http://www.linuxreality.com/podcast/episode-17-suse-linux-101-part-2/

Or: http://shrinkster.com/lxi

Part 3: http://www.linuxreality.com/podcast/episode-18-suse-linux-101-part-3/

Or: http://shrinkster.com/lxj

His original tutorial was for 10.1, so there may be a few minor differences but not enough to make a difference.

There’s also a support site for SUSE Linux you can find at http://wiki.suselinuxsupport.de/wikka.php?wakka=SuSELinuxSupport or http://shrinkster.com/lxk.

That’s about it, one final note. As I tell my kids, when you are done playing make sure to put away your toys. To shut down your Virtual PC openSUSE, just select Logout from the Computer menu, and it will give you a screen with the standard Logout, Shutdown, etc. menu options. Just pick Shutdown and you are free to go get that cup of coffee you’ve been waiting for.

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