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04.07.11

Why OpenSUSE 11.5 Might Never Come

Posted in Novell, OpenSUSE at 5:20 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Danger sign

Summary: As Novell implodes and people leave the OpenSUSE community in droves, there is little or no sign of future releases

NOVELL may be just days away from obsolescence and all it gets excited about these days are Microsoft projects like Mono and Moonlight (more on that later). When it comes to SUSE, Novell uses it almost exclusively to market its proprietary software such as Operations Center (see the SAP news, which says for example that “Novell has released new software designed to allow SAP users to integrate around its SUSE Linux open source operating system”) and the company relies on shallow coverage that gets used to promote Intelligent Workload Management and other such fluff, e.g. this marketing in the form of articles, because today's news is largely PR, even YouTube content. Watch this blatant PR piece about SUSE and the way Novell’s PR staff exploits it (it’s staged): “This month, the influential industry publication PRWeek recognized the program and wrote a case study about why it was so successful. We’re proud of the recognition and thank the thousands of Linux developers who participated (and if you missed it this year don’t worry – we’re planning a second competition in 2011).”

PR, PR, PR…

That’s Novell for you.

Realising that there is a PR issue, OpenSUSE rethinks version schemes:

Andreas Jaeger, openSUSE Program Manager at Novell, has announced the results of the future versioning polls. As reported earlier a discussion concerning the versioning of openSUSE releases emerged with several interesting options. A polling structure was devised and today the decision is made.

Some of the ideas were to go to a Fedora-style whole number release version such as Fedora 14 or Fedora 15. Another was Ubuntu-style in which the version number reflected the release date such as Ubuntu 11.04 to mean the Ubuntu released in April 2011. Mandriva-style was also considered that uses the year with the minor number indicating the number of release for that year such as Mandriva 2010.2 (the second release in 2010). The most interesting was dubbed “octal” which means the next release would be “o 12″ or 012.

This was mentioned before. Basically, the OpenSUSE community has a crisis as it gets abandoned and OpenSUSE Weekly News is almost the only type of content being added to the site these days (the planet component aside, even a profile here and there). OpenSUSE is a dying distribution and Jack Wallen’s review of the release was titled “Will new openSUSE with KDE 4.6 bring distro back from obscurity?” Since our post which accumulated OpenSUSE reviews we have only found this one review, so it doesn’t seems to have resonated as a distribution worth reviewing. HOWTOs about OpenSUSE are few but they exist (for GNOME at least, and Novell has a lot of influence inside GNOME). We have researched further for a while, hoping to find evidence of a future release because there is no talk about the next release yet. Little (if any) was written about it in the news. The term “OpenSUSE 11.5″ appears not in blogs, just in unofficial or less official sources./placeholder pages, e.g. [1, 2, 3]. Some of these pages are almost blank.

Given that AttachMSFT expressed no commitment to OpenSUSE (just to SUSE), will there be a future for it? We doubt that. Even if they develop it, a high-profile release might never come. A fork is somewhat possible.

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A Single Comment

  1. MrNthDegree said,

    April 21, 2011 at 5:16 am

    Gravatar

    Basic resarch: “The next release name is openSUSE 12.1 on November 10, 2011″ (Thanks: http://en.opensuse.org/Factory). The versioning stuff is a bit of politics, but it’s settled that all versions begin with .1 now (and end in .3).

    With regards to Attachmate. Up until people were confused about naming, SUSE was the name for openSUSE release and SUSE Linux Enterprise was the name of the SLE release. Novell changed the name from SUSE to openSUSE because so many people referred to the distribution (SUSE) by the project name (openSUSE). Attachmate are committed to openSUSE in the same way Novell was, there is no change there, this is shown in their PR statements (e.g. http://www.attachmate.com/Press/PressReleases/nov-22-2010-SUSE.htm).

    As far as “leaving in droves” goes with regards to the openSUSE project, quite the opposite. There are people working on LTS’ing specific older releases in ways that even Novell haven’t been doing with SLE (Project Evergreen), people working on rolling upstream software changes within stable releases to keep latest stable of everything (Project Tumbleweed) and there’s a lot of successful work going on in YaST.

    Speaking of YaST. It’s gaining improvements in privilege handling (in the GTK version so far), now has a production-ready web-based interface which is superior to the competition for general system management in a home/office and despite the many changes to underlying components in the Linux system, it still maintains a consistent interface (with adaptations to handle both new and old technology).

    Zypper continues to improve with tweaks that improve dependency handling and speed. It’s more efficient and uses less RAM in my experience than apt-get and has better functionality than yum out-of-the-box.

    openSUSE still has a community maintaining KDE3 support through OBS, which automatically rebuilds for each new release which (with exception to Kubuntu) is something no other up-to-date distribution can boast. The same will also occur for GNOME 2, as OBS and zypper provide the infrastructure to automate porting (unlike other distros).

    openSUSE is far from dead. It’s more alive than ever.

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