Before you start you will need a copy of the openSUSE 11.4 distribution; don't forget to verify the download if you have downloaded it - even broadband can scramble a few bits in 700MB. I chose the easy option - I happened to see that openSUSE 11.4 was bundled in the free cover disk in the May 2011 edition of Linux Format magazine (UK publication from Future Publishing), and it had one or two interesting articles to read too - hopefully the in-depth review of mythTV will inspire me to build a Linux-based home theater.
The first challenge will be to set you Dell to boot into the BIOS so you can re-order the boot sequence. That took a little searching on the Internet before I came up with "F2". I selected the DVD drive as the boot device since I was booting from disk.
Once the system boots up from the DVD drive, you'll be presented with the screenshot on the right. Select the Installation option. This will install openSUSE 11.4 on your hard disk. The top option will just boot openSUSE and load it into virtual memory. This could be useful if you want to 'try before you buy'.
It's not my intention to provide screen images for every step of the installation since most of it is straightforward and self-evident. However, the disk partitioning is a little fiddly and requires some thought. I have decided to retain the Windows XP partition on my system, and the installation process has suggested a shrunk size of 28GB for it which is fine by me. Note that by carefully scrutinizing the image right, you will note that I have deleted the installation suggestion of a dedicated partition for the /home drive. I've never really been taken by that approach but do whatever you are comfortable with. Once you have set the partitions, the installation process goes on its merry way. You will be prompted to reboot without the DVD in the drive, so be ready to hit F2 as the machine reboots to unset the DVD drive boot sequence option we set previously. Once the reboot has completed and you have logged in, the installation will finish.
You will be immediately confronted with a diagnostic saying that "desktop effects were too slow and have been suspended". Basically the machine does not have the grunt for effects - if you really want to use them, use the ALT-Shift-F12 combination to reinstate - but I wouldn't recommend it at all
The good news is you will not need to get dirty on the command line to coerce WiFi into action. openSUSE 11.4 recognises the on-board Intel WiFe card so all you need to do is configure and you are away! Click at the bottom right of the screen to bring up the network connections list. You should see your WiFi hub, like I did in the image to the right.
Click on your wireless hub and you will be prompted for the password. Add this and it will be intercepted by the wallet password storage / retrieval sub-system. You should now be able to connect to the outside world!
The power management screen can be accessed via Kickoff->System Settings->Power Management. You will find that everything has been setup and will be working ok. You can fine tune the parameters to fit your own personal circumstances.
The screen settings can be accessed through Kickoff->System Settings->Desktop. openSUSE has recognised the maximum resolution of the screen and set it accordingly. Again, they can be changed to your personal preferences
That's it! The simplest openSUSE installation for me of all time. Hopefully you won't have too many problems either.