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Knowledge Base > Operating Systems > Linux > Linux Installation Notes: OpenSUSE

Linux Installation Notes: OpenSUSE

This article is to provide information for BootIt BM users who are installing the OpenSUSE distribution of Linux.

Latest version tested:  OpenSUSE 13.2 (November 2014 release)

Overall summary: OpenSUSE is a free distribution of Linux sponsored by Novell, who also produce the SUSE Linux Enterprise distribution. Since version 12.2, OpenSUSE has been using the Grub2 boot loader. The installation media uses a graphical installer, and is available for download in 4 basic variations:

1. Full DVD - 4.4 GiB ISO containing everything

2. Network - Approx 80 MiB ISO. Software is downloaded during installation

3. Live KDE - Approx 900 MiB ISO containing the KDE4 desktop. Will run as Live CD

4. Live Gnome - Approx 900 MiB ISO containing the Gnome desktop. Will run as Live CD

The web site mentions that the KDE and Gnome live versions (3 and 4 above) are "less tested" than the Full DVD and Network methods. The installation procedure outlined below used the full DVD for the test installation. The full DVD and Network installs allow you to select the desktop environment during the installation.

The most important point for BootIt BM users to observe when installing any Linux distribution, is to ensure that the boot loader (Grub2 in this case) gets installed to the Linux partition (typically the root partition), and not to the MBR. Installing Grub2 to the MBR will overwrite BootIt BM, and will require that it be reinstalled from scratch. This issue is covered more completely in the "Additional Information" section at the end of this article.

One thing to be aware of, specific to the OpenSUSE installer, is that it always installs a standard (non-Grub) MBR, overwriting the BootIt BM MBR code, when Grub2 is installed to a partition during an installation.  There is no known way to prevent this from happening, but it can be corrected afterwards by simply reactivating BootIt BM, as is typically necessary after installing Windows. See Step 26 below for additional details.

Warning: Working with partitions and boot loaders while installing any operating system can lead to data loss if mistakes are made. It is therefore highly recommended that all data be backed up before starting an installation.

Recommended installation steps for BootIt BM users: This procedure was tested using the full 4.4 GiB DVD as the installation media.

1. Before the install, install BootIt BM first (if not already installed).

2. Important: Before the install, create the partitions for OpenSUSE with BootIt BM. OpenSUSE requires a root partition and a swap partition at a minimum.  All Linux partitions except the swap partition should be created as Linux Native (type 131/83h). The swap partition should be created as Linux Swap (type 130/82h). If you are considering using the btrfs file system for one or more partitions, please see item 3 in the Additional Information section at the end of this article before creating your partitions. Do not be concerned with formatting the partitions at this time. This will be done by the OpenSUSE installer during the installation.

3. Important: Before the install, create a boot menu item for OpenSUSE in the Boot Edit dialog in BootIt BM. Be sure to specify the partition to boot from, which should be the /boot partition if you have one (optional), or otherwise the root partition. This will be the partition to install Grub2 (the boot loader) to in a later step. Also be sure that all partitions created for OpenSUSE are included in the MBR Details section of Boot Edit.

4. Important: Before the install, attempt to boot from the OpenSUSE boot menu item created in Step 3. This boot attempt will fail, but it will set up the partitions correctly in the MBR partition table so that the OpenSUSE installer will see them as you specified in the Boot Edit dialog.

5. Important:  After Step 4, reboot the system from the OpenSUSE installation media, without booting any other boot items in between.

6. The OpenSUSE installation media will boot up to an initial menu, from which you can choose Installation to start a new installation. Note that there is also an Upgrade option on this menu to upgrade an existing installation. The Upgrade option was not tested for this procedure.

7. Important: Proceed through subsequent screens until you get to the Suggested Partitioning screen. On the Suggested Partitioning screen,  choose the Create Partition Setup button. That will take you to the Preparing Hard Disk screen.

8. Important: On the Preparing Hard Disk screen, select the Custom Partitioning (for experts) item, and then choose Next. This selection will bring up the Expert Partitioner screen, which will then allow you to manually select and configure the partitions you created in BootIt BM.

9. On the Expert Partitioner screen, you should now be able to see the drive(s) that you created your Linux partitions on listed in the expandable Hard Disks section under System View on the left. By expanding each hard drive, you should see a list of partitions on the drive that correspond to how you configured the partitions in Boot Edit in step 3. If you do not see your Linux partitions at this point, you will need to go back and ensure that you followed Steps 2 through 5 correctly.

10. On the Expert Partitioner screen, identify and highlight your root partition in the System View section on the left. Then choose the Edit button (bottom-center) to bring up the Edit Partition dialog for the root partition.

11. In the Edit Partition dialog, configure the root partition to be mounted as the root partition (/), and to be formatted with the file system of your choice (ext4 recommended). If you intend to use the btrfs file system for the root partition, please see item 3 in the Additional Information section at the end of this article before proceeding.

12. In the Edit Partition dialog, select the Fstab Options button to bring up a dialog where you can set the volume label (if desired), and can specify how to mount the partition in the /etc/fstab file. The default of UUID is recommended, but the Device Name, Volume Label, and Device Path options are also available. Choose OK to return to the Edit Partition Dialog.

13. When satisfied with the root partition settings in the Edit Partition dialog, choose Finish to return to the Expert Partitioner screen

14. On the Expert Partitioner screen, identify and highlight your swap partition in the System View section on the left. Then choose the Edit button (bottom-center) to bring up the Edit Partition dialog for the swap partition.

15. In the Edit Partition dialog, configure the swap partition to be formatted as swap, and to be mounted as a swap partition.

16. In the Edit Partition dialog, select the Fstab Options button to bring up a dialog where you can set the volume label (if desired), and specify how to mount the swap partition in the /etc/fstab file. The default of UUID is recommended, but the Device Name, Volume Label, and Device Path options are also available. Choose OK to return to the Edit Partition Dialog.

17. When satisfied with the swap partition settings in the Edit Partition dialog, choose Finish to return to the Expert Partitioner screen

18. If you are using any additional partitions, such as for /boot or /home, repeat the steps above to configure those partitions. Be sure to choose the correct mount points; i.e. choose /home as the mount point for the /home partition, and /boot as the mount point for the /boot partition.

19. When finished configuring partitions, carefully review all information on the Expert Partitioner screen. When satisfied with the partition configuration, press Accept to continue. That will take you back to the Suggested Partitioning screen.

20. On the Suggested Partitioning screen, the partition(s) to be formatted during the installation will be listed in red at the top. On a new installation, this should include the root and swap partitions, as well as any additional partitions you are using. When satisfied that the information is correct, choose Next to continue.

21. Proceed through the subsequent screens until you get to the Installation Settings screen. This screen summarizes all settings chosen for the installation. On this screen, the boot loader settings can be seen, and can be changed if needed.

22. Important: On the Installation Settings screen, look at the Booting section to see the boot loader settings. The Status Location should be the /boot partition if you have one. Otherwise it should be the root partition. This specifies where the Grub2 boot loader will be installed during installation, and it should be the same partition that you set as the boot partition in Boot Edit in step 3. For example, if your root partition is /dev/sda2, and you are booting from your root partition, then /dev/sda2 should be specified here.

Note: previous versions of the OpenSUSE installer provided a Change button on this screen so that the partition to install Grub2 to could be manually specified if necessary. That button has been eliminated as of OpenSUSE 13.2. However, during the test installations, this setting was already correct by default, and did not have to be changed.

23. Important: Also on the Live Installation Settings screen under Change Location, Boot from MBR should be disabled, and booting from the partition that you are booting from (either /boot or /) should be enabled. If these settings are not correct, you can use the enable/disable links next to them to change them. During test installations, these settings were already correct, and did not have to be changed.

24. When satisfied that the boot loader is properly configured, choose the Install button to start the installation. Choosing install will bring up a confirmation screen where you will have one more chance to go back and change settings, if needed. Otherwise, choose Install again to go ahead with formatting the partitions as specified, and then proceed with the installation.

25. When installation completes, you will be prompted to reboot the system to complete the installation and configuration.

26. On the first system reboot, BootIt BM will not appear as it normally would, and the system will boot directly into OpenSUSE. This is normal, and it is because the OpenSUSE installer has overwritten the BootIt BM MBR with a standard (non-Grub) MBR. This can be corrected by booting the system from the BootIt BM installation media, and then choosing the Reactivate option. On the next reboot, BootIt BM will be back, and OpenSUSE should boot normally from the BootIt BM boot menu without any further changes.

27. If OpenSUSE does not boot from the BootIt BM menu as expected, recheck that the boot item is correctly configured in Boot Edit. Another item to check is whether or not the partition you are booting from is considered to be bootable by BootIt BM. To determine this, go to Partition Work, highlight the OpenSUSE partition that was specified to install Grub2 to in step 22 (/boot or root), and select Properties. It should say "Bootable: Yes" in the Additional Information section. If not, then Grub2 did not get installed to the correct partition during the installation.

Additional Information:

1. If you configure the OpenSUSE installer to install Grub2 to the MBR (by mistake or intentionally), it will completely overwrite BootIt BM, including the EMBR area on HD0. This will require that BootIt BM be reinstalled from scratch. If you are NOT limiting primaries in BootIt BM, this can also cause some partitions on HD0 to disappear (get deleted). However, the deleted partitions can usually be recovered by using the undelete feature of BootIt BM. Please refer to the following KB article for more detailed information on recovering from Grub2 getting installed to the MBR:

Grub Article #3 - How to recover from Grub being installed to the MBR

2. There is a significant chance of data loss if you are not limiting primaries in BootIt BM and you allow the OpenSUSE installer to make any partitioning changes, such as creating, moving, or resizing them. The reason for this is that, with primaries not limited, the installer can overwrite partitions that it is not aware of because they are not present in the MBR during the installation. As recommended above, the safest choice is to create the partitions you need ahead of time in BootIt BM, and then choose them during installation.

3. The btrfs file system: Recent versions of OpenSUSE support the btrfs file system. However, because booting OPenSUSE from BootIt BM requires installing Grub2 to a partition, you will need to have a separate /boot partition formatted as ext2/3/4, and then install Grub2 to the /boot partition during the installation. With that configuration, then the root partition and other partitions (if any) can use btrfs. If you don't want to have a separate /boot partition, then you will need to use something other than btrfs for the root partition. The ext4 file system is recommended.

 


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