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Novell News Summary – Part I: More Reviews of OpenSUSE – Rants and Raves

Posted in Database, GNU/Linux, Novell, OpenSUSE, Review at 7:07 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Dragon lizard

Summary: More reviews of OpenSUSE 11.2, the OpenSUSE Boosters Team, and site theme makeovers

THE release of the latest OpenSUSE is just weeks behind and one of its reviewers, Caitlyn Martin, has some followups on last week's review. In her blog she complains about what she describes as ‘the’ community, as though there is one happy family with a cohesive set of ideas and goals, all living in harmony. The reality is more complex because some factions advocate DRM, others exploit GNU/Linux for cost, and others value Freedom for example. There are many other dimensions of division. In O’Reilly’s domain, she writes some more about the subject in relation to her review of OpenSUSE. She did receive some abuse from people, but this is by no means unique to users of GNU/Linux. It is a little disappointing to see it attributed to people who are classified by the operating system that they use.

In response to this, Rainer Weikusat writes:

I have been a SuSE user for years because the company had the nice habit of burning the content of all larger FTP-servers to CDs and I didn’t have ‘internet’ at home. Usually, I rewrote everything I was forced to look at because it didn’t work in the way I had needed it to work. I tried this on more than one computer and with the intention to actually use these for professional work in 1998 for a very short while. To prevent me from going mad on the spot, I switched to Debian very soon, since I wanted a computer that could be used to accomplish work and not one which only caused work.
The last thing I actually saw from SUSE was a couple of years ago, namely, an init-script which contained a complaint from its author that he would need this particular abstruse workaround because some other script “still isn’t fixed”. I assume the idea to fix it instead never occurred to him. And this epitomizes the SUSE mentality for me.

There is other feedback of a similar kind.

Linux Planet has this new review of OpenSUSE 11.2 which is mostly positive.

openSUSE 11.2 is a solid incremental update to a popular distribution. It has enough new and improved stuff in it to make it a definite upgrade for current users. For the curious it’s definitely worth a hard look. On the flip, side this version is not without warts. Issues like proprietary wireless drivers (Broadcom) and some annoyances with Intel 845 graphics will cause newbies to cringe. If you cruise the openSUSE forums, you’ll find workarounds for the most common issues. So go ahead and give it a spin. It might be just what you’re looking for.

Even a tough reviewer of GNU/Linux distributions quite liked OpenSUSE 11.2.

OpenSuSE 11.2 has the most stable and unobtrusive version of KDE 4 I’ve ever used. That’s a big win in my book. I’m sick and tired of having to sacrifice stability and features for eye candy and it’s good to see that finally I can have both (for the most part).

The only real problems I ran into popped up *after* I started fiddling with things, and to give credit where it’s due, SuSE put up with my tinkerings without a crash. What can I say, I’m a fiddler. Now get off my roof.

Another good review calls OpenSUSE 11.2 “James Bond’s choice”.

openSUSE 11.2 is an excellent release. While it is not a revolution that version 11 was compared to 10.3, it builds on the good points and makes them ever better.

openSUSE 11.2 runs faster, smoother, conserves power more wisely, has a more polished desktop, and simpler installation. You get a decent, colorful choice of programs, lots of useful utilities, plus centralized management by YaST, which is smarter and easier to use than ever before.

Not everyone was happy with OpenSUSE 11.2. For example:

I decided to give a new OpenSUSE 11.2 a spin. In hindsight, that was probably a mistake.

Another short review and walk-through says:

openSUSE is my favorite Linux distribution. Linux in general has some usability frustrations as a desktop user, so I hope to share some of the ways they can be dealt with.

Jack Wallen has published the following walk-through which says very little about operation of the distribution.

Once you have taken care of that you are on your way to installation Nirvana. I say that, not necessarily because the installation is the simplest installation you will encounter, but more because it is the cleanest and well thought out installation you might see.

Han Wen Kam wrote about reasons for liking OpenSUSE 11.2 and also some other things.

Luv openSUSE 11.2 so much, especially the default KDE 4.3 GUI..

Not all upgrades went smoothly. Even among core OpenSUSE people we find this (although proprietary software may be guilty).

I’ve upgraded my openSUSE 11.1 64bit using esound to 11.2 64bit recently and the result was no sound in flash (e.g., YouTube and other streamed video) but everywhere else it worked. I’ve googled around a bit but didn’t find anything that would work for me. So I tried to switch to pulseaudio but the result was still the same.

Here is one way in which the release of OpenSUSE 11.2 relates to Fedora 12.

The middle of November was very exciting for both Fedora and openSUSE communities. At first, openSUSE project unleashed its 11.2 release, which was followed by Fedora 12 a few days after. I thought it would be interesting to dig into bug reports which were filed during the development of these two releases in respective bugzillas.


On the more technical side, OpenSUSE has removed DHT.

The Pirate Bay’s tracker closure has spurred several discussions about DHT, BitTorrent’s fallback technology for when central trackers are unavailable. According to some, DHT has some problems of its own. Novell, for example, decided to ship openSUSE with the BitTorrent client Transmission, but not before stripping DHT support.

Under the pretext of “makes you safer”, OpenSUSE still gets mentioned for its TPM inclusions. This is a subject which had Boycott Novell mentioned in the Dutch press after last week's post.

Apart from some more technical posts about packaging and compiling, there are some posts about Novell’s “boosters” [1, 2, 3, 4] who are promoting SUSE.

On November 20th, the Czech members of the openSUSE Boosters Team organized openSUSE 11.2 Release Party. The party took place in the nice building of Faculty of Mathematics and Physics.

Michal Hrušecký turns out to be among the “boosters”, based on his post about the site’s MediaWiki theme.

As you may or may not know, I’m part of the openSUSE Boosters team and I’m working on umbrella project.

Another theme makeover:

Today I applied the new Robert Lihm’s theme called Bento to GameStore web, so it doesn’t look like a quick hack anymore.

Hrušecký later wrote about MySQL (he often does that) in the OpenSUSE Build Service:

It’s been some time already since I informed you about server: database: UNSTABLE repository in openSUSE Build Service. Today I want to mention what is going on there. As the name of the repository suggests, it’s probably not the best idea to use anything from here on your production servers

OpenSUSE’s Dominique Leuenberger wrote about Compiz 0.8.4. It’s rather ironic that OpenSUSE ships an old version of Compiz despite the origins of this good project.

Doubtless you’re all aware that openSUSE 11.2, as great and up to date it is with many packages, was shipped with an outdated version of compiz version 0.7.8. The reasoning behind this was that some patches for NOMAD just were not able to be forward ported in reasonable time. At one point I started fixing / backporting some fixes from 0.8.4 to 0.7.8 and was granted maintainer status for the compiz packages, which is a great honor to me. Nevertheless, this happened too late in the 11.2 release cycle to include more recent packages. We were already in version freeze and I could never get this through.

Having an out-of-date Compiz is not such a big deal, but according to Heise there is greater trouble involving security at 1&1. OpenSUSE users are affected.

According to a German IT service provider, users running 1&1 servers with openSUSE 11 as their distribution should check the version number of their Linux kernel. In order to guarantee full support for the hardware it uses, for openSUSE, 1&1 installs its own homemade kernel. Unfortunately this kernel disables the YAST auto-update function, with the result that, despite regular updates, the kernel ( remains several months old – making it vulnerable to a range of root exploits involving null pointer dereference (NPD) and other vulnerabilities.


In other news, Zonker finally speaks to someone not from Novell (i.e. a colleague). It’s the first time in 4 shows and Novell’s PR department is grooming Zonker by promoting his show, as usual (while promoting SUSE in another audiocast of its own).

Lastly, there is OpenSUSE Weekly News with some translations and an audiocast.

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