06.20.12

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OpenSUSE: It’s the Final Meltdown

Posted in Novell, OpenSUSE at 1:04 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Emo signs

Summary: OpenSUSE makes its signs of distress public, probably for the first time in years

THE OPENSUSE project product wants to ignore the deal that SUSE signed with Microsoft, but the matter of fact is, Microsoft’s dollars help drive the project, ignoring past lessons of what Microsoft did to Novell (Pamela Jones can help remind them [1, 2, 3]).

Based on some reports about SUSE, there is a gathering in the pipeline:

Today, the most ambitious Free Software event of the Czech Republic officially opens registration! We’ve got an awesome event for you in store with sessions on all major subjects in Free Software and around it. Entry will be free of charge for everyone and we’ll give you 4 events AND a bonus track for that money! Read on to find out why you MUST be in Prague on October 20-23 2012.

Some of SUSE’s development had moved there before SUSE signed the deal with Microsoft (almost exactly one year ago). There are clearly signs of trouble and even SUSE sympathisers such as Swapnil Bhartiya are unable to deny it. He writes:

openSUSE seems to be going through some challenging times.

Here is a press report about it:

On top of these growing pains, there are other issues that afflict the openSUSE release process. The build service needed to create images is breaking down frequently, causing more delays. All of this has led to every milestone of openSUSE 12.2 having been delayed so far. Poortvliet and Kulow seem to agree that these delays are not temporary and are symptomatic of deeper problems within the project that need to be addressed.

With some influence and moles, it is no wonder that OpenSUSE goes south. They need to reorganise. Here’s more: “In the longer term some suggestions that seem to be getting positive nods are a project staging areas or forgetting releases and going to the rolling release model. But it’s all speculation at this point.”

The damage control from Stephan Kulow can be found here:

It’s time we realize delaying milestones is not a solution. Instead, let’s use the delay of 12.2 as a reason to challenge our current development model and look at new ways. Rather than continue to delay milestones, let’s re-think how we work.

As one magazine put it, the dev team is “soul searching” as a result and September 2012 is named as the target month. IDG commentary says the development model may be revised:

In an early-morning e-mail message from openSUSE Release Manager Stephan “Coolo” Kulow to the [opensuse-factory] mailing list, Kulow urged his fellow developers to “re-think how we work.” Among Kulow’s suggestions? Dumping the current release cycle schedule for openSUSE and moving to an annual or even unscheduled release system.

Factory is the development project for the openSUSE distribution of Linux, which is the community counterpart to the SUSE Linux Enterprise (SLE) product line.

Citing more delayed milestones than any other previous release, Kulow lamented that “every week I fight the same battle: Making sure that the mess generated by updates of random packages generates a working system. Very fortunately we have an increasing number of contributors that update versions or fix bugs in packages, but the end result gets worse.”

Here is more damage control:

But for openSUSE, the recent delay in the debut of version 12.2 is about more than simply pushing back a deadline. In Poortvliet’s words, the announcement, and other recent difficulties, are a signal that “we need to re-think how we’re working.”

The bottom line is, a sign of distress comes out of OpenSUSE. So far it has been rare, but several years ago OpenSUSE did seek donations because it had server issues.

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