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Doubts in OpenSUSE

Question everything



Summary: Things are getting somewhat messy and anarchic inside OpenSUSE, which loses members and momentum

NOBODY denies that OpenSUSE is going through a tough time. It has a lot to do with Novell, maybe even everything to do with Novell (which is steered by Microsoft to an extent). As Tom Jowitt put it the other week:



Concerns are being raised over the future of the openSUSE.org project, with reports that Novell is pushing for some sort of spin out of the project.

Earlier this month, Groklaw reported that Novell has decided to fund a new foundation to oversee OpenSUSE, and act as a major stakeholder. Elsewhere Novell’s newly appointed openSUSE board chair, Alan Clark, has been said to be actively helping with the spin out.

“This news has caused concern,” wrote Andy Updegrove, a founding partner at the law-firm, Gesmer Updegrove. “Over the last few months, I’ve frequently pointed out the vulnerability of important open source projects that are supported and controlled by corporate sponsors, rather than hosted by independent foundations funded by corporate sponsors.”


J.A. Watson has just asked, "What's Up with openSuSE?" It's the title of his blog post that questions the project's development and adds:

There has been quite a bit of commentary and speculation about the Novell takeover and the possible impact on the SuSE/openSuSE products and development. (Note that I am avoiding the patent controversy here, intentionally.) The official statements from Novell and SuSE have been basically that there should be little or no impact, product development and releases should continue as normal. However, I have been following the openSuSE 11.4 (factory) pre-release development pretty closely because some of the newest things being developed are important to my Lenovo S10-3s netbook (Broadcom brcm, and Synaptics ClickPad). What I have seen and experienced since the sale/takeover was announced has been troubling - or else I am doing something wrong.


Edmundo Carmona, a Venezuelan Computer Engineer living in Colombia, says that "Novell crumbled" and he is right. There is less than a year left before the Microsoft patent deal expires and then what? Will Microsoft resort to legal action and extortion? Novell is a foolish, foolish company, run by foolish people who give themselves massive bonuses they do not deserve.

Do you remember when you opened your browser to get the latest news on Nov 3rd 2006? I do. I just couldn't believed my eyes when I learned that Novell had signed this deal with Microsoft..... and if that's not enough, how about bad mouth developers of FLOSS everywhere (the same guys who largely develop the product Novell was trying to get money from) saying that if you (we... I still do a little FLOSS development as personal side projects) didn't want to get into trouble you better do your work for free? Ain't that lovely? As a summary, it was a very deceptive turn of events.


Regarding the OpenSUSE unrest which we recently mentioned in relation to Pascal, Fab from Linux Outlaws writes:

The OpenSuse board has announced that it has evicted a person from the community for violating the Guiding Principles of the project. They don’t, however, name the person or explain what the cause for the decision was which makes the whole announcement rather pointless. While one has to respect the board’s decision to keep the person anonymous, one can not help thinking that this way of handling the situation is neither very open nor transparent.


In other OpenSUSE news (there is not so much, although "Weekly News" remains alive and there are few new HOWTOs [1, 2]), OpenSUSE 11.1 is being killed: "Announced by the openSUSE developers a little over two years ago, the openSUSE 11.1 operating system has reached end of life (EOL) on January 13th, 2011." LWN shares some security problems and says that "openSUSE 11.1 has reached end of Novell support - 11.1 Evergreen goes on". Wolfgang Rosenauer, speaking for the Evergreen Project, can be found in this new interview:

Having a distribution that gives you a two year support for ALL editions is another fascinating aspect of the openSUSE distribution. Being in a community that allows you to say that you think that this is not enough and that you want to do something with it is another one. Wolfgang Rosenauer believed that something like that would be useful to users and gave birth to Project Evergreen.


Perhaps the only recent news as of late was around OBS and Qt. "As part of my Openismus training, I was recently tasked with packaging a Qt application using the OpenSUSE Build Service (OBS)," wrote this one person. Talented dancer Knut Yrvin from Nokia wrote about their Qt Creator build service plug-in:

Based on feedback from several community groups we agreed to sponsor the creation of a plugin that connected Qt Creator with the OBS, and we are pleased to announce that we are releasing this into beta today.


Novell's Untz has some more thoughts about installers and LibreOffice 3.3 gets packaged for OpenSUSE. To quote Untz:

The App Installer meeting is over since Friday, and I must say I've been very pleased with the results of this meeting. During three days (rather two days and a half), we managed to explore the topic, investigate some pre-existing technologies, define an architecture to handle the creation and the communication of the metadata, write a plan to move forward, etc. And we managed to all agree on this!


There is some more information that may be of interest in this magazine's column with Jos Poortvliet, who is now the community manager:

Since the openSUSE Conference in Nuremberg in October, the openSUSE community has been extremely active. New projects announced there have progressed, and others have emerged. One example of the latter would be the announcement of Project Tumbleweed by kernel hacker and openSUSE contributor Greg Kroah-Hartman. The goal of this project is to create a ‘rolling-release’ version of openSUSE. A rolling-release distribution (like Arch Linux or Gentoo) always offers the latest stable versions of a package in updates so that when a new release surfaces, users actually don’t have to do an upgrade!


So that's about all from OpenSUSE. Not much so far this year, except gloomy speculations about the project. That latter part added some balance to show we never ignore positive news, either.

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