Battle Royale: Ubuntu 8.04 vs. openSUSE 11

All things are set for today’s epic battle. Two major release versions of two major Linux distributions will take the stage for what could be the fight of the year. Dubbed as the Battle Royale, it’s Ubuntu 8.04 vs. openSUSE 11 for our mega main event.

Please pay attention for the formal introduction:

This distro has a long standing record of excellence. It is widely known for its beauty, usability, and features. Fresh from its highly successful key release, please welcome the #1 challenger, the green mean distro fighting machine, openSUSE!

This distro has taken Linux to the next level. Its fast rise to fame can be credited for its user-friendliness, stability, and outstanding community support. Riding high from its recent LTS release, please welcome the defending world distribution champion, the distro Superstar, Ubuntu!

Now, let’s stop this silly intro and get down to business. I know that all of you are already excited to witness this historic match-up. So without any more delay, let’s get ready to rumble!

Tale of the Tape:

Distro Name:openSUSE| Version:11| Weight:664MB| Country Origin:Germany| Distro Origin:Slackware| Package Mgt.:RPM| Default Desktop:KDE-Gnome| Distrowatch Rank:#2

Distro Name:Ubuntu| Version:8.04| Weight:699MB| Country Origin: Isle of Man| Distro Origin:Debian| Package Mgt.:DEB| Default Desktop:GNOME| Distrowatch Rank:#1

Note: I tested the GNOME 32-bit version of openSUSE 11 to match with Ubuntu 8.04

Distrowar Arena (Test Machine Specs):
Board: Intel Corporation D102GGC2
Processor: 3.40 GHz Intel Pentium D
Hard Drive: Samsung 80GB ATA with 8GB allocated to VM disk
Memory: 2GB DDR2 RAM with 512MB allocated to VM memory

Speed Test:
Installation Time- Winner, Ubuntu!
Boot/Start-up Time - Winner, Ubuntu!
Responsiveness- Draw!

Installation Speed:
We have carefully timed the installation from start to finish, and Ubuntu 8.04 finished faster than openSUSE 11. It took only 17 minutes for Ubuntu to completely finish the installation, while openSUSE needed 22 minutes to complete.

Boot/Start-up Speed:
We have meticulously measured the boot/start-up speed or the time it takes for a distro to boot from grub menu to the main desktop. After 3 tries, Ubuntu’s start-up speed average is around 41 seconds. openSUSE meanwhile came close with an average of 43 seconds flat. So, Ubuntu has a slim advantage over openSUSE in this category.

They are both wicked fast and responsive in their GNOME desktop so I had to call it a draw for “Responsiveness”.

Default Theme- Winner, openSUSE!
Artwork- Winner, openSUSE!
Extras- openSUSE!

Default Theme:
Both Ubuntu 8.04 and openSUSE 11 have a sleek and polished default theme, but I had to pick a winner on this one. I picked openSUSE because I think the elements of its default theme have blended well with the overall desktop look. --whatever that means ;-)

Artwork is judged based on the appearance of distro’s default boot slash image, login menu screen, and wallpaper. I handed it to openSUSE 11 because it has a more professional appeal. I also love the new green and black combination.

Another openSUSE 11 win for “Extras” because I’m judging this category based on the added eye-candy that a distro can give you out-of-the-box. I just think Ubuntu lacks a bit of X-factor.

Pre-installed Applications- Draw!
Available Packages from Repo- Draw!
Ease of Use- Winner, Ubuntu!

Pre-installed Applications:
Since both Ubuntu 8.04 and openSUSE 11 comes with outstanding selection of free and open source software and has some equally amazing list of custom applications, I decided to give a draw verdict for this category.

Available Packages from the Repo:
Both Ubuntu 8.04 and openSUSE 11 also have plenty of available packages from their respective repositories, so it’s another draw here.

Ubuntu is still unbeatable in this category because of its simplified desktop and excellent community support. However, openSUSE 11 is within striking distance.

Hardware Detection- Winner, Draw!
Software Management- Ubuntu!
Error Handling- Draw!

Hardware Detection:
I can’t make a concrete judgment in this category because I have tested openSUSE 11 and Ubuntu 8.04 in VMWare only. However, they both performed remarkably well as they have properly configured all of the important VM hardware. So, I have to call it a draw.

Software Management:
Ubuntu 8.04 is the winner in this category because its “Synaptic Package Manager” performed better than the Yast2 software installer of openSUSE 11. Synaptic is much reliable in handling dependencies and it's a little quicker than Yast2.

Error Handling:
Since both Ubuntu 8.04 and openSUSE 11 handled some minor issues that I have encountered quiet well, and they are both quick to send updates and security fixes, it’s a tie for “Error Handling”.

The verdict:
Ladies and gentlemen, the gruelling Battle Royale has come to an end. Let’s now see the scorecard. In Speed Test, the score is 2-0 in favor of Ubuntu! In Aesthetics, the score is 3-0 in favor of openSUSE! In Features, the score is 1-0 in favor of Ubuntu! In Stability, the score is 1-0 in favor of Ubuntu! With the final total score of 4-3, the winner and still distro champion of the world, the distro Superstar, Ubuntu!

In my own choice of categories and tests, and in my own judgment alone, Ubuntu 8.04 has beaten openSUSE 11 but only by a very slim margin. It only shows that openSUSE is worthy to be called the second most popular Linux distribution at the moment, and Ubuntu is still the cream of the crop.

I hope you enjoyed this one. Feel free to share to us your thoughts.

PS - Anyway, I almost forgot to remind you all that our distrowar is just for the spirit of fun and should not be taken seriously. However, you can always take it seriously if you want to ;-)


  1. AnonymousJune 28, 2008

    Ubuntu is a nice distro for beginners. You must be a beginner, I believe ?

  2. AnonymousJune 28, 2008

    Ubuntu is a nice distro for anyone. You support Suse? You must be a M$ shill I believe? Let's generalize shall we?

  3. AnonymousJune 28, 2008

    I am not the first poster, but I will paraphrase first comment. Ubuntu is not advanced-user friendly. I mean with opensuse installer, you can install it on a complex hardware setup like weird partitions ... which I need everytime I install it. Also I think its beginner friendly because thats the one I started with when my linux knowledge was very little. Also I can choose precisely the packages I want. I don't use MS products anywhere and I still use openSUSE exclusively. I like the choices and stability it gives over other distros.

    One more thing, in this review, the reviewer considers install time as a factor. Thats BS. How many times a day you need to do that? For that matter, how many times in a month?

  4. AnonymousJune 29, 2008

    I've been on Linux since about 1996. I use Ubuntu. I've never used Suse or OpenSuse. The closest I've got to rpm hell is Redhat (and that was enough) and the closest I've got to OpenSuse is Slackware (I didn't realise it was based on Slackware until I read this article, thanks for that).

    I install Ubuntu with many differing complex disk structures. This is not a problem for Ubuntu's installer (alt if necessary).

    In the end anyone who considers themselves an advanced user will probably spend some time post install configuring the system to their liking. For me I can slap Ubuntu on any machine, and then create a shell script for all the extra packages and config needed. This script can then be reused to make subsequent installs on other machines very quick (excluding hardware differences).

    Ubuntu is very much a distribution that is newbie friendly but useful for the advanced user because it minimises post-install configuration. It's also eminently suitable for rolling out on many machines easily and were I in the position of deciding on a distro to roll out in a company, I would pick Ubuntu (but not Hardy).

    The one downside to Ubuntu, which I think it's a matter of the size of Canocical, the segmentation of the community around it and the release cycle, is that each release is relatively unstable for some time post launch (Hardy is still in this position).

    The only problem with Linux (as an OS) generally is closed sourced drivers like nVidia graphics cards. As long as you have a laptop with an Intel chipset you're fine.

    Nice article. Thanks.

  5. AnonymousJune 29, 2008

    openSUSE is much, much more user friendly.i migrated from ubuntu a had to use command line, but in openSUSE is everything much easier.I set up everything via YaST.

  6. AnonymousJune 29, 2008

    I love it, the gloves are off. let everyone tell us why there preferred distro is best!!

  7. Let's see.


    1a. On Ubuntu, I didn't even notice when my printer/scanner were installed. But when I needed to print or scan something, there they were.
    1b. On openSUSE, I had to go through Yast. Not a big deal, but still, easy of use.

    2a. I connect my digital camera on Ubuntu. A window pops up and it offers me to get the pictures and movies.
    2b. On openSUSE, nothing happens. Have to start F-spot to do it.

    3a. Microphone and everything related to audio just works fine under Ubuntu.
    3b. Microphone simply doesn't on openSUSE, on the same machine. Maybe it will work if I remove pulse and let Alsa take care of it. Still, I didn't have to do anything on Ubuntu.

    1a. After installing restricted packages everything works on Ubuntu. End of story.
    1b. After installing restricted packages, you still need to add a few more packages from Packman under Gnome. Under KDE multimedia works fine until you enable Visual effects. And then the screen goes black. Until you play with Gstreamer video settings.

    1a. Default repositories + medibuntu.
    1a. Default repositories + Packman + Scinece (scipy, numpy, octave, matplotlib) + ... . If any of these repositories is slow at the moment, it slows down Yast.

    1a. Type a command for a program that exists but has not been installed (e.g., javac), and it tells you exactly which package to install (under Ubuntu, that is).
    1b. Type a command under the same scenario. It just says "sorry", can't help you.

    NTFS mount:
    I do not have a verdict as to which one is better. I'll just state the difference:
    1a. On Ubuntu, if you have a Windows partition (which I normally leave to be much larger then linux one), I have read/write access by default.
    1b. On openSuse, by default, you don't have the access. You either have to be root, or to manually change fstab settings (133 -> 113, 022 -> 002). Fine by me, but just make me wander if everybody will find that easy or trivial.


  8. AnonymousJuly 01, 2008

    Pardus and PCLinuxOS are the best!

  9. AnonymousJuly 07, 2008

    Ubuntu and openSUSE are both very mature and solid Desktop Operating systems. However, I give the overall advantage to openSUSE because it’s continued attention to detail and rapid development. I believe the ONLY shortfall that openSUSE has against Ubuntu is the very small gap in the Package Management spot. Once this void is closed, the rest will follow feat. OpenSUSE is more polished, more refined and gives you the choices you deserve during installation.


  10. AnonymousJuly 07, 2008

    Ubuntu and openSUSE are both very mature and solid Desktop Operating systems. However, I give the overall advantage to openSUSE because it’s continued attention to detail and rapid development. I believe the ONLY shortfall that openSUSE has against Ubuntu is the very small gap in the Package Management spot. Once this void is closed, the rest will follow feat. OpenSUSE is more polished, more refined and gives you the choices you deserve during installation."


  11. AnonymousJuly 08, 2008

    They are good distros like many other distros. I would take a couple other distros over any of them for ease of use and power usage.
    Between those two, I would give the edge to ubuntu for the mere obvious fact that it is easier to be based off Ubuntu than Suse. Take a look at Linux Mint - based on Ubuntu and you would see a really complete product that surpasses the parent Ubuntu and Suse in almost all regards. It is extremely polished, well integrated and adequately fast. Speed-wise, none of these big guys can match with the likes of Vectorlinux, archlinux, etc, nor even Mepis. Just my 2 cents.

    But they are both good distros. I credit Ubuntu with most switches of newbie users like myself to Linux.

    When I think Distros that really appeal to newbies, Distros that come to mind are Mepis,Pclinuxos, Ubuntu, etc.

    Vectorlinux was one of the first distro to bring slackware greatness to beginner users.

  12. AnonymousJuly 10, 2008

    Well *everybody* knows SuSE are in bed with the devil (M$) so why would you want M$ spyware with a linux wrapper.
    And Canonical are no better. They just want $$$.
    If you want pure GNU/Linux go for Debian.
    Heck even go for FreeBSD - it's purer than $u$E or (Duh)buntu.

  13. AnonymousJuly 13, 2008

    Look, I'm all for rating distributions of Linux, but claiming OpenSuse is in bed with Microsoft is just silly. Why on earth would you complain about a company working with MS to make FOSS more useable? 'Oh damn, OpenSuSE is working with Microsoft to undermine Windows market share! SHAME ON THEM.' Also, claiming Canonical is no better and just wants money is just as silly. I have yet to have Canonical ask me for a single dollar. They will ship you a CD for FREE if you can't get Ubuntu from the internet. As for the argument that Debian is pure GNU/Linux, It is not as simple to use as Ubuntu is, or as up to date unless you use the experimental or unstable branches. These are still pretty solid, but they are not perfect. FreeBSD is a downright nightmare for installation compared to any of the three aforementioned Linux distros, and has a set of nearly identical commands that none the less behave completely differently than Linux, often with different flags and output.

    I personally use Ubuntu because I find the real meat of where a distro is different (the package management) is far better and faster in Ubuntu. Synaptic makes installing stuff easy, and doesn't hunt for repos unless you ask it to, preventing the slowdown mentioned in a previous post if some servers are slow. It also has automagic management of software/drivers that are not FOSS. OpenSuSE requires you to add a separate (but well supported) repository to install things like ATI or NVIDIA drivers, adding one more place for your Yast2 startup to slow down. Yast2 does centralize tasks, but you still have to go into sub applications to do them, just as you would in Ubuntu.

    I like Ubuntu because it makes nearly everything easy. The community helps make the hard parts easier as well. As for aesthetics, I agree that OpenSuSE has some more attractive default themes and a more tidied up version of Gnome, but I find the menu they use cumbersome and slow. Ubuntu may not be the coolest looking distribution, but it certainly is snappy, and far more attractive than OS X 10.4 or Windows XP, imo. Vs. OS X 10.5 and Vista, I think it's a tie, though I do like my wobbly windows in Ubuntu. I am able to do everything I need to do in Ubuntu, and this makes me happy to the point that the main laptop I use both at home and at work now has a brown and orange heron proudly sitting on the desktop background. Ubuntu is top dog on Distrowatch because it is easy enough for almost everyone to install and use, pretty enough that people with nice hardware aren't under utilizing it, ugly enough that people with old hardware aren't pegging their CPU and RAM and GPU to use it, and flexible enough that you can get real work done on it. To use the growingly worn out car analogy, Ubuntu is a Jeep Grand Cherokee, able to haul your crap around, drive off-road, etc., but you can still get a plush leather interior. OpenSuSE is an H2. It'll go off road, but it's really at home in a suburbia driveway. It's huge, but it's amenities are meant more for comfort than accomplishing real work. In the end, there are no show-stopping differences between the two distributions. It comes down to preference.


  14. I have tried many many OS from Windows to MacOX, from Gentoo to SUSE, from BSD to Solaris. But Ubuntu 8.04.1 in 32bit version is the best of all for free. This is my verdict.

  15. Hi,
    I am no geek, but I was able to install and run my UBUNTU operating system with little problems, and I use lots of hardware peripherals and software applications. For any hurdles (mostly because of being new to LINUX) I could always google for answers.
    Because my experience with ubuntu was so good, I became curious of the "well advertised" OPENSUSE, and installed it on a different computer to see what it is like. It looks a bit flashier, at least at first sight, and this is where the advantages end. After about a week of failures, setbacks, utter nightmares, because not much ever worked right, I decided to uninstall Opensuse and stick with UBUNTU instead, which is still a very pleasant experience.
    Thank you UBUNTU !

  16. I love you so much! thx! kiss kiss kiss!

  17. Tried them both and Ubuntu > openSUSE because ease of use is more important to me.

  18. I'd switched to ubuntu from winXP when my old ibm tp r51 couldnt run the experimental setup of Vista.

    At first, it was easy and still loving it but comes a point when you try to do something flashy and instead end up messing it, a system restore would be nice. Though I've no idea if it exists in 8.04

    At the present moment downloading OpenSuse11.1, just too see how good it works as we all know it looks trendy.

    So for now, Ubuntu rocks.

  19. ubuntu cannot auto-detect a simple generic 1280x768 VGA connection ... for this reason and the fact that openSUSE FROM THE LIVE CD let me configure that setup... openSUSE wins the verdict