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OpenSUSE is Not a Community Project, It’s a Novell Product

Posted in GNU/Linux, Novell, OpenSUSE at 9:10 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Peace of mind

Summary: Clarifications about the role of OpenSUSE and how it is primarily developed by full-time Novell staff (while marketed as “community project”)

THERE IS still an attempt by Novell to sell the story that OpenSUSE is independent. Don’t believe the PR. OpenSUSE’s community manager says: “Initially our goal was to answer: “Who is openSUSE and what does it (want to) do?” prompted by the discussion about the default desktop at the openSUSE conference last year. In five years the openSUSE project has evolved from a fully company-driven project to a communty project where everybody can contribute.”

That’s disputable, but he himself is an employee of Novell, so it’s easy for him to sell this impression, not so much to defend it.

In order for autonomy to be gained, OpenSUSE will need to be forked. Even the trademark is still Novell’s, not just key areas of development.

In other news of interest, there’s this new piece about OpenSUSE Connect Beta and some bits about OpenSUSE Build Service [1, 2, 3, 4] (packaging sometimes gets done by volunteers).

The original post about OpenSUSE Connect Beta shows it to be driven by the “Boosters” which Novell uses for marketing.

As a result of the openSUSE Boosters’ ‘HackMeck‘ two weeks ago at FrOSCoN we are proud to present you with a new beta of openSUSE Connect.

Novell or its community recently created some marketing blog such as SUSE Studio (new examples in [1, 2, 3]). “OMG! SUSE!” is looking for volunteers to help promote GNU/Linux under the “SUSE” brand (taking credit for programs and games that are not specific to SUSE, just like Ubuntu does).

Milestone 1 of OpenSUSE 11.4 is still a Novell driven event, unlike for example Weekly News, perhaps the OpenSUSE FAQ (to an extent), and maybe even this design. We don’t know exactly who is paid by Novell and it’s not simple to find out either, maybe by design because blurring the differences between paid and unpaid keeps volunteers appeased. It seems like in Brazil there is a better sense of community and freedom:

After a long talk with Carlos Ribeiro, Ambassador from Brazil and a devoted member of the openSUSE Community we realized that it is important to get some more data about our Portuguese speaking user base. We will accomplish this by running a questionnaire open to all the Portuguese speaking community that uses or knowns openSUSE Linux.

The message worth getting across is that Novell still controls OpenSUSE and most of the “community” component is a volunteering effort which handles minor things. To suggest that OpenSUSE is “a communty [sic] project where everybody can contribute” is to merely say what Novell wants people to believe. OpenSUSE volunteers will be better off helping other projects, not a project that helps Novell reduce spendings on wages (i.e. make its shareholders richer).

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