On Thursday, I decided to upgrade from OpenSuse 11.2 to 11.3.

I was highly suspicious that this would work so bundled up all my important documents, systems, settings & whatever and stored them safely away in my secret place. Downloaded and made a CD from the 64b Network Install ISO and promptly booted my system from the CD. Chose the upgrade option and went and made a couple of nice curries while the beast took 2  hours to download whatever it needed. …and when I came back… almost  everything was working perfectly!

Better than that, some of the packages I had installed from the Packman repository were flagged correctly and through Yast's Software Management tool I was able to update, remove or whatever any packages that the installer did not know what to do with. And that was it; local applications were working fine, and all my important apps were all brand new and shiny recent versions - even weird stuff I had in /usr/local/bin continued to work fine. Wow! Seriously impressed.

Getting multi-head dual screens to work in OpenSuse 11.3 with a Radeon card

Only one fly in the ointment - almost a disastrous one as well. I  have 2 monitors fed off a Radeon card which had given problems before though 11.2 seemed to cope well. But not 11.3 and definitely not KDE.  Here's what I had to do:

Support Multi-head

Seems the latest kernel does not support automatic mode lines from RadeonHD cards so this feature should be turned off. Quite simple when  you know what has to be done; edit your /boot/grub/menu.lst file and add the switch

nomodeset

to each of your kernel lines. Then just reboot. This allows you to at least choose multi-head behaviour.

Why graphics mode setting has been moved to kernel is beyond me; I would think this will make life much more difficult for folks pulling graphics cards in and out (yes, I have done that in the past) and  general graphics issues. But perhaps this is only the start of some  grand design thought up by someone.

Anyhow, if you have a Radeon or Nvidia card, this tweak may help you sort graphics problems.

Saving Multi-head Settings

Now I was able to choose the KDE control for configuring my multi-head setup:

System Settings → Display

After some experimentation, this was fine. But as soon as I logged out and back in again, the settings were lost. Here's what you can do:

  • As before, configure your display as required and leave the configuration tool
  • at this point, the settings have been saved in /etc/kde4/kdm/Xstetup as a set of xrandr  commands
  • you can test these settings by logging out and in again and then running this script /etc/kde4/kdm/Xstetup
  • what we really want to do is execute this script as we login;  presumably KDE does attempt this but if the X session is not ready, then nothing happens. We could add it to our profile or .bashrc, but then it would execute every-time we opened a terminal. Instead add a link to the script in ~/.kde4/Autostartthen it will execute as KDE comes up for your user's account

Of course, this is only a workaround for KDE which should be doing it for us; if anyone has a better plan, please let me know.

Despite this minor hiccup, I am loving OpenSuse 11.3 - it actually  feels quicker and more responsive than 11.2 and several tools that I use  all the time have improved dramatically. Well done the Suse team on  delivering such a painless upgrade!