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OpenSUSE Stuck (Progress Report About the Project)

Posted in Novell, OpenSUSE at 5:19 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

OpenSUSE in 2011

Summary: Hardships for OpenSUSE following the Microsoft patent deal at the end of 2006; we take stock of the past fortnight’s news and predict where the project is going

OPENSUSE news is relatively scarce (things dropping off) and it includes stuff like security issues and HOWTOs [1, 2]. Novell’s PR department seems to be somewhat defunct, which doesn’t help this project either.

In a rare post from Novell’s PR blog (mostly inactive these days) there is this statement about “Oracle’s Contribution of OpenOffice.org to Apache”. It generally speaks about LibreOffice (which has some correlation/connection with Go-OO). Being an IBM partner, Novell feels obliged to state: “SUSE is looking forward to the future contributions of IBM and potentially others into this new ASF incubator project, but would certainly have liked to see such contributions go directly to LibreOffice. We will follow the incubation process very closely to understand future opportunities and possibilities which can improve our offerings for our users and customers.”

“Novell’s PR department seems to be somewhat defunct, which doesn’t help this project either.”One of the promotional Novell blogs has gone rather quiet, with just a few updates here and there (about SUSE Studio). Thanks to Google’s funding (GSoC) there is still some development activity making it into the Planet [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8]. Google unfortunately gave some money to Mono in the past; OpenSUSE itself is being used as a ramp for Mono intrusion. There are generally positive sides to this GNU/Linux distribution (like medical spins [1, 2]), but the issue is that OpenSUSE helps Mono and SUSE, which helps Microsoft make money out of GNU/Linux and make it normal for Free software to be taxed by Microsoft.

Richard Hillesley has this good new article titled “Novell’s open source legacy – wake up, little SUSE” (Hillesley is a Mono sceptic). Yes, the project is getting smaller and it needs to consider becoming independent (which it is not).

The major part of Novell’s investment in open source was SuSE. Soon after the Novell acquisition SuSE became SUSE with a capital “U”, and Novell remodeled the SUSE Linux offerings with an enterprise desktop offering (SLED), an enterprise server offering (SLES), and a community edition (openSUSE), which plays the same role as Fedora plays for Red Hat, prototyping technologies for enterprise editions.

The image and fate of SUSE among the wider community, if not among its friends in other developer communities, has been coloured by Novell’s policy mishaps – love-ins with Microsoft, patent indemnifications and ‘mixed source’ portfolios, and the undercutting of Red Hat support contracts. But SUSE can hope for redemption with its new-found independence and reputation for solidity and technical excellence, assuming it takes a leaf from Red Hat’s book, rediscovers its free and open source heritage and sells it as a virtue, not a hindrance.


The openSUSE board is currently working on the practicalities of such a development which “as they are very determined to make it happen, is therefore very likely to happen – I personally hope before the next openSUSE conference”, says Jos Poortvliet, the openSUSE community manager.

Amid lack of strategy and downtimes, Poortvliet does damage control. He is an employee in charge of the OpenSUSE community/activities/PR along with more senior and technical people like Andreas Jaeger who help the project orientation-wise and coach Poortvliet. He announced this first milestone in an official blog which is hardly active anymore, except items like this one (the volunteers make up for it, along with developers). It’s a shame about the OpenSUSE Web site. It used to be well populated, but now it is mostly Poortvliet and a small ‘choir’ there (and he posts about other subjects too while not busy at Attachmate).

We are not entirely sure what will happen to OpenSUSE. There is no clear obligation to it from Attachmate. Currently it relies on the goodwill of some people and on GSoC. Why not just fork it and go independent?

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