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07.12.08

Do-No-Evil Saturday – Part I: OpenSUSE’s Week of Build Service

Posted in GNU/Linux, Novell, OpenSUSE at 5:49 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Hot summer, hot news

The most major news of this week was Build Service. However, equally important was the departure of Brian Proffitt. Joe Brockmeier published an interview with Brian (of Linux Today) over at OStatic and he has also had his own self-introductory interview put up in the OpenSUSE Web site.

For those who have been waiting for a ‘People of openSUSE’ interview with our openSUSE Community Manager and long time Linux and open source journalist Joe ‘Zonker’ Brockmeier since February, here you have it!

Let’s look at some of the technical and less personal news though.

“Ubuntu versus OpenSUSE” Revisited

The comparison which refuses to die is that which involves Ubuntu and <Distribution X>. Here’s an experience of one person who has tried both Ubuntu and OpenSUSE, then ended up using OpenSUSE.

I ran Ubuntu for about a month. It is a very nice distribution. Everything worked very smoothly. I had no real problems with it. I’m not going to use it any more. There is nothing at all wrong with it. On the other hand, there aren’t any real advantages over OpenSuse, so I’m going back to what’s more familiar. If any Windows users ask me what Linux flavor they should try, now that I have actually used it I am comfortable recommending Ubuntu as a good choice.

[...]

Both of them beat Windows soundly, on features, customization, and ease of installation and use. Linux just keeps getting better, and the gap is widening. Now if we could just get commercial software to distribute end user software that is cross platform… but that’s a post for a different day.

Another blog item about this subject is this one.

While skimming through the openSUSE forums today, I came accross a post “Ubuntu or openSUSE for new users?“. Not surprisingly these posts are not that uncommon in linux forums. Even more unsurprising is the answers one gets.

Glimpse at OpenSUSE

Francis published some quick thoughts about OpenSUSE 11.0 and the latest KDE 4.1 build.

So far I’ve been really impressed with the latest release. Not only have the reviews been pretty much consistently positive because of some of the shiny new features (like installer and fast package management), but also in general it’s just running very well. I installed it on some 10 different desktop and laptop machines over the past few weeks, and every single one has gone very smoothly.

Screenshots of OpenSUSE 11.0 you can now find here. This is the latest gallery among several more that were mentioned before. HowToForge has a “Perfect Server” guide for the leatest OpenSUSE and JVN raves about this distribution as well.

I, on the other hand, love openSUSE 11 and since Warren Woodford, the developer behind MEPIS, has had to put his great Debian-based Linux distribution on the back-burner for now, openSUSE 11 has become The Linux distribution as far as I’m concerned.

Beranger calls it “the worst article by SJVN in years.”

Rougher Rides

Not everyone was excited by OpenSUSE 11.0.

For completeness, the nags and rants are outlined below.

So, I was rather disappointed a few months ago when I went to upgrade some rather antiquated OpenSuSE releases on a couple of servers and found that the good folks at Novell have specifically disabled this capability. Furthermore, they discourage upgrading at all, recommending a clean install. That’s not bad advice for Windows, with its mediocre packaging and 5-year release cycle. It’s even okay advice for OSX, with its sadly primitive packaging and 1.5 year release cycle. But a Linux distribution with a 6-month release cycle and perpetual beta codebase is another matter.

On the 19th of June, the release date of openSUSE 11, I joined everyone else to download it. I downloaded the KDE4 version, as I had heard it was very good. So, I stuck it into my laptop. Great new design. It quickly booted up and instead of the default KDE4 theme I was greeted with a more interesting grey theme called Aya. I didn’t want to explore on the live CD so I immediately installed it.

I finally got around to installing openSUSE 11.0 and have to say I’m pretty happy with the whole process. More of an evolution rather than a revolution, openSUSE 11 runs well and the package manager is much faster.

I had some problems in the beginning. About half way through the installation process, while it was installing the packages, I would get a cryptic and mostly useless error dialog:

Installation of some packages failed.

Further tries, with the Details tab opened, showed differing packages it was failing on, leaving me with few ideas of what to do next. Someone on the new, consolidated openSUSE forums said they had good luck with a new DVD drive, which led me to think about reburning the DVD.

In summary, OpenSUSE 11.0 is a stable and powerful Linux distribution, but one that doesn’t accommodate the inexperienced Linux user. It may be just the thing for your servers, but day-to-day and even business desktop users may want to lean toward a more user-friendly distribution.

Build Service

Novell issued a press release, showing and supporting our assertion that OpenSUSE and Novell remain quite inseparable.

WALTHAM, Mass., July 9 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ — The openSUSE project, a worldwide project dedicated to building a community Linux* distribution, today achieved another milestone in simplifying contributions to the openSUSE distribution with the release of openSUSE Build Service 1.0. The first major release of the Build Service provides developers with direct access to the code repositories for the openSUSE Linux distribution, thus streamlining the ability for all developers to contribute code.

Here is the announcement from the OpenSUSE Web site. Sean Michael Kerner describes it as “Novell’s Linux Build Service” (not OpenSUSE).

Building a Linux distribution can be a challenging process, especially when it comes to applications. Different Linux vendors use different packaging systems for application delivery, which can make distribution difficult for developers and software vendors.

SJVN was a little more enthusiastic.

Let’s say you want to write an easy-to-install program for any Linux distribution. That’s a a problem. There is no single, easy way to install software for all versions of Linux OpenSUSE thinks it has an answer: the openSUSE Build Service.

The openSUSE project, the community Linux distribution supported by Novell, announced the release of its openSUSE Build Service 1.0 on July 7th. The first major release of the Build Service provides developers with direct access to the code repositories for the openSUSE Linux distribution.

Here is the coverage from OStatic, which OpenSUSE’s community manager writes for (possible conflict of interests).

So far, the bulk of the packages in the Build Service appear to be those used for openSUSE itself, and they’re not taking wide advantage of the cross-system builds yet. But it seems clear that initiatives like this can ultimately streamline Linux software development a good deal. As Linux continues to mature and its market share increases, tools like the openSUSE Build Service will be increasingly important to maintaining a healthy ecosystem.

Here it is from LinuxWorld (IDG).

The Novell-sponsored openSuse Build Service 1.0 provides access to code repositories and makes it easier for developers to contribute code

Open-Xchange hasn’t quite distanced itself from Novell just yet (it embraced Ubuntu despite its roots). We previously saw it returning to OpenSUSE, at least as an option. It had words things to share about the Build Service.

Juergen Geck, CTO of Open-Xchange, stated, “The openSUSE Build Service enables independent software vendors to [build and package] applications for any distribution. We can configure a package once, reproduce it and test automatically.”

Paul Krill wrote this:

Build Service features a collaboration system for working on Linux packages or solution stacks, according to a statement from the project organizers. The new release can scale to larger projects and expands the scope of Build Service to building the entire OpenSuSE release.

it’s interesting to see InfoWorld articles under the umbrella of Computer World. Maybe there was some kind of shakeup like CNET taking ZDNet after Ziff Davis’ bankruptcy (and in turn an acquisition by CBS). InforWorld stopped paper publication not so long ago.

It was only recently that ECT, which includes Linux Insider, began importing more articles from elsewhere (just like ZDNet does with Reuters) and one of its chief writers — if not the editor — showed up in Linux.com some days ago. It’s Jack by the way, and he was slammed by the tough crowd for citing Rob Enderle. ECT hasn’t a similar comments system and they sometimes cite other shills like Laura DiDio. They don’t get challenged for it by the readers.

This type of convergence in the press leads to concern because of corporate ownerships that rarely favour Free software.

Anyway…

Last but not least, here is the coverage from Tectonic.

OpenSuse releases build tools

\

[...]

The tools can package applications for RPM systems such as OpenSuse but can also package software for Suse and Suse Enterprise, Debian Etch, Red Hat, Fedora, centOS, Mandriva and Ubuntu.

General News

LinuxWorld will begin next month and OpenSUSE will be there.

We’ll have a full day of presentations about the openSUSE Project, KDE, GNOME, the Linux kernel, the openSUSE Build Service, and much more.

For more OpenSUSE news you might wish to see the summary in the OpenSUSE Wiki/site.

In this week:

* openSUSE Build Service 1.0 Released
* Announcing openSUSE Day at LinuxWorld Expo
* People of openSUSE: Joe Brockmeier
* openSUSE Build Service Trust concept
* John Anderson: Get build dependencies with zypper
* Michal Zugec: Network Documentation

We never use this as a reference for our weekly news, but it might serve as a complement nonetheless.

One has to wonder if this weekly news thing was reactionary. We started this a long time before them and people from Novell subscribe to the site. This whole “Do-No-Evil Saturday ” routine began after complains from OpenSUSE participants. They said we were not fair in our coverage (one-sided).

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