Gecko Linux releases a new version to make using OpenSUSE more easier

seven months after the last release, the Gecko Linux distribution team revealed a new version of the distribution based on OpenSUSE Linux.

Gecko Linux aims to make it easy to download, install and use OpenSUSE, especially for new users.

OpenSUSE is a very stable and solid GNU Linux distribution, and although it is not as popular as Ubuntu and Fedora, it has some of the best apps and tools in the Linux world, such the YAST, system manager, a tool similar to Control Panel in Windows 8.1 and lower versions, and it enables you to manage all The operating system components from the kernel, boot options, system services, management of packages and repositories, one-click installation of programs and packages, language settings, setting and configuring the firewall and many other things.

The distribution adopts the btrfs file system with Snapper snapshots utility enabled by default, integrated into the Grub bootloader, allowing users to recover or restore their entire OS at boot if anything goes wrong with it during updating or when editing system files, directly from the boot menu.

OpenSUSE is available in two versions, the first is called Leap, which is a long-term supported version that is more suitable for home users looking for a very stable distribution, as well as for developers and sysadmins. If you are looking for a powerful alternative to Debian, then this distro is probably for you.

The second version of OpenSUSE is called Tumbleweed, and it's a rolling distro, meaning you only have to install it once, and you'll always get the latest version of it when you update it, and although it is a rolling distro, it is no less stable than the Leap version. This version is suitable for developers and advanced users who always want or need the latest version of software packages as soon as they become stable.

The big problem with OpenSUSE is that it only ships as either a large offline 4.2 GB ISO install image without Live mode, or a small network installer image that requires an internet connection for installation. There are also some live images for the Gnome, KDE, and Xfce desktop environments, but they are only Live DVD rescue images, and you can't use them to install OpenSUSE offline. You will have to set up a network connection and download everything (including the packages in the Live CD) from the Internet when you install it.

The OpenSUSE installer also offers only GNOME, KDE, and XFCE desktops as obvious options during the installation process, although most other desktops are included in the installation image, and can be installed through the installer's advanced options, which is not suitable for everyone, especially novices Users.

The OpenSUSE installation disc contains only free software and packages and does not contain any proprietary or non-free package, which requires adding third-party repositories after installation, to install multimedia codecs, drivers, and other proprietary software such as Skype and Google Chrome.

To solve all these issues, Gecko Linux was born in May 2016, as a derivative of openSUSE Linux, with the goal of making OpenSUSE more scalable and easier to use out of the box. Gecko Linux provides installation images of no more than 1.8 GB in size for all popular Linux desktops like Cinnamon, Plasma, Gnome, Mate, XFCE, Budgie, LXQt, and Pantheon.

Each installation image contains one of these desktops, so Gecko Linux offers 8 different versions, with the famous Calamares installer that allows you to install the distribution offline. Each version also comes bundled with other essential free software for every Linux user, proprietary media codecs preinstalled, additional useful third-party repositories (Packman, Google Chrome, Nvidia drivers...) enabled by default and different default theme, icon, and font.

Gecko Linux releases in three versions:

  •  Static, which is built upon OpenSUSE Leap.
  • Rolling, which is built on OpenSUSE Tumbleweed.
  •  Next, which is built on OpenSUSE Leap, with additional repositories to provide newer versions of KDE and Pantheon desktop environments.

The latest version of Gecko Linux is 999.220105 for the Rolling editions 153.220104 for the Static editions, and 153.220105 for the Next editions.

The 999 indicates that the Gecko Linux spin is based on openSUSE Tumbleweed, 153 indicates that it's based on OpenSUSE Leap 15.3, and 220105 part means that it was created in the year 2022 on the 5th day of January.

The biggest change in the latest release is the return of the Pantheon desktop for Rolling and Next after the Pantheon repository gets a new active maintainer. The Pantheon edition features the same desktop version found on elementary OS 6.1in the rolling edition, and the older pantheon desktop version is found on elementary OS Hera.

I've tried the Pantheon Rolling version for a while, and I think if it gets a little more attention, it'll be an excellent alternative for someone looking for an experience close to Elementary OS away from the Ubuntu base .

The distribution can be used on a daily basis after installing the newly available updates and language files (by double-clicking on the shortcut on the desktop), and after installing some other basic programs such as Flatpak, elementary-appcenter, elementary-sideload, Flathub, and elementary Flatpak remotes (I don't know why they are not included by default despite they are all present on the repos).

The Pantheon edition performs very well, and doesn't consume a lot of computer resources, but needs some extra work -in my opinion- to be more stable and usable.

Other new changes on these new Gecko Linux version includes:

  • OpenSUSE integration of the GRUB bootloader with Btrfs and Snapper snapshots has finally arrived in Gecko Linux.
  • the PipeWire audio framework is now the default, with a customized out-of-the-box configuration suitable for casual home audio as well as professional low-latency (5.3ms) JACK applications.
  • An improved installation logic, based on whether the system is running in EFI or legacy BIOS mode, leading to much better reliability during future GRUB bootloader updates.
  • An additional workaround has been added to avoid a bug in the openSUSE GRUB routine when generating entries for other dual-boot Linux systems on Btrfs subvolumes.
  • Repository URLs have been adjusted to use openSUSE's new system.
  • Logic has been added to the Calamares configuration to use Btrfs LZO compression on legacy BIOS systems, whereas Zstd compression is now used on EFI installations.

You can download all the different versions of Gecko Linux from their official website here, or if you want the original OpenSUSE distro you can also download it by following this link.


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