The following article has been contributed by the SUSE YaST Team and edited by Ancor González Sosa, Software Engineer and member of the YaST team.
The world of Linux desktop environments changes relatively quick, with new options popping up and some projects being abandoned. Thanks to the openSUSE’s community of packagers we have a lot of these new desktop environments available on the openSUSE distributions. But the status of those packages for openSUSE is also subject to changes: some desktop environments are poorly maintained while others have a strong and active group of packagers and maintainers behind.
The YaST Team does not have enough time to watch all these desktop environment and evaluate which one is ready or not for being in the installer’s desktop selection screen. So the openSUSE Release Team decided to replace this dialog with something a bit more generic but still useful for newcomers.
They asked the YaST Team to come up with a new dialog featuring the two openSUSE main desktops (KDE Plasma and GNOME) and allowing the easy selection of other environments without reworking the dialog in the future. The goal of the new dialog was to replace the existing one you can see in the following screenshot.
We decided the new dialog should rely on patterns for several reasons. The main one is that the set of patterns is under the close control of the openSUSE community, which looks more closely than us to the desktop environments and their integration into the distribution. Moreover, each pattern specifies its own icon and description that can be somehow re-used by the installer.
We also took the opportunity to merge this almost empty and outdated dialog with the new one.
Add-on’s are no longer produced for openSUSE, so only the second checkbox still made any sense. Moreover, the functionality of that second checkbox directly influenced the available selection of patterns, so it made more sense to merge everything in a single screen than keeping an extra step in the installation just to accommodate a checkbox.
Thus we sent a proposal for the new dialog to the opensuse-factory mailing list and, after implementing many of the ideas discussed there (like better wording or using a button instead of a checkbox for the online repositories), this is the new dialog that replaces the two ones mentioned above.
Selecting ‘custom’ will take you to the already existing patterns selection screen. Just in case you don’t remember how that screen looks like, you can check this image.
If these screenshots are not enough to make your mind about the change, you can check this animation, in which KDE Plasma is initially chosen to be changed at a later point (going back in the workflow) to LXQt.
It will take some time before the changes hit the Tumbleweed installer, since they obviously have a non-trivial impact on the openQA tests, that will need some adaptation.
We would like to thank everybody who contributed to this new feature by providing feedback and suggestions through the mailing list. Once again, the openSUSE community has proved to be simply awesome! 😍