openSUSE isn't (just) a desktop OS

openSUSE is an incredibly versatile OS, suitable for use on Mainframes, Servers, Virtual Appliances, Workstations, Desktops, Laptops, and Netbooks; no wonder it has a chameleon for a mascot.
In the past few years, most media coverage of Linux has become synonymous with Linux on the desktop, largely because of the huge market share of Linux in the server space and the popularity of Ubuntu Linux, which first and foremost, is desktop-oriented. We, as Linux distribution advocates, have contributed to this, by strongly focusing our marketing efforts on desktop advancements: the newest KDE, previews of GNOME 3, and before that, Compiz. Unfortunately, for new users, this creates a false perception that all Linux distributions are desktop Linux distributions. What we lose as a community in this argument which Linux distribution offers the best desktop experience is one of openSUSE's greatest strengths: its server experience, and the overall flexibility the distribution provides by being equally suited to both server and desktop tasks.
openSUSE grew out of S.u.S.E. Linux which, translated from the original German, is System and Software Development . S.u.S.E. Linux was designed for building systems: it was equal parts a system integrator's OS, and a developer's OS. The current openSUSE distribution carries those roots, but has lost the emphasis on them, in favor of the overall desktop experience. I'll be publishing a few of articles on that explain how easy it is to get started with openSUSE as a server and as a development environment, to try to rebuild some of that emphasis.

Update: "openSUSE servers with one click" is up on

LFNW'10 :Making Rails Interesting

#bhamruby, the Bellingham Ruby Users Group, put on a full-day track at LinuxFest Northwest on Saturday, April 24, 2010.

Here's my presentation slides:

Or if you prefer, you can download a PDF.

The openSUSE Ecosystem - Presentation Notes

On Thursday, February 4th I gave a talk for the Bellingham Linux Users Group (BLUG), 'touring' openSUSE 11.2 as a desktop OS, and giving a broad overview of the projects and community that culminates in the openSUSE Linux distribution. For those who missed it, here's my presentation notes.

Cut to the Chase: Presenter's Notes & Links

Feb 5

openSUSE 11.2

KDE 4.3 as the “default” desktop. If you install from DVD without

changing anything, you’ll have the KDE desktop by default. However, we

still provide GNOME as an equal choice, and Xfce and other window

managers as alternative desktops

Live CDs (hybrid ISOs) for KDE 4.3 and Gnome 2.28

The usual upgrades: OOo 3.1, ext4 as default file system, Firefox 3.5 (now with blazing speed!), xorg autodetect/randr

New technical stuff: btrfs, desktop kernel, complete hdd encryption

Gnome 'Sonar' theme.

Social networking integration:

Choqok microblogging client (KDE)

Gwibber microblogging client (Gnome)

Facebook chat for Pidgin, Kopete

KDE plasmoids for microblogs, openDesktop

webYaST preview - RESTful interface to YaST & client web app. Built in Ruby on Rails.

Significant speed improvements to package dependency resolution.

Select addon repositories: Nvidia, Mozilla,, VLC, Mono, KDE & Gnome community, openSUSE Contrib...

Subscription script for the Nvidia repository autodetects the appropriate kernel driver for installation/subscription.

What's on the disc?

KDE Live, Gnome Live, DVD Installer, 64-bit on one side, 32-bit on the other. The label is opposite the data. Super handy!

Feb 2

openSUSE Users/Members

openSUSE User: "I use openSUSE Linux"

10,963 Users, 4,221 support the Guiding Principles

User directory

Guiding Principles: we are the openSUSE community; we want to create the best Linux distribution in the world; we value the ideals of free software; we are governed by the board of maintainers.

openSUSE Member: "I contribute to openSUSE Linux"

395 Members

Member directory

Users can request membership; membership is only granted by the board, for "continued and substantial contribution" email address, Freenode IRC cloak, PlanetSUSE syndication, Lizards blogging account

Board Elections

Feb 4


Feature planning for openSUSE and SLE

'dashboard' home page: top rated feature requests, recently updated feature requests, tag cloud.

sort & search for feature requests

follow feature status

discuss feature requests

Keeps bugs (bugzilla) and features separate.

Feb 4

openSUSE Build Service

Automated software packaging for all major distros:

RPMs for openSUSE, SLE, CentOS, Fedora, RHEL, Mandriva

DEBs for Debian, *buntu

Upload source and build instructions (rpm spec/?), and your packages are automatically rebuilt when one of your uploads, dependencies, or target distros change.

For each project build, a clean VM is constructed, your source added, packaging performed, results & log extracted to download. , then VM destroyed.

Free hosting on, GUI at

Subscribe to projects using native packaging (YaST, zypp, rug, etc.)

Link a project, add a patch, publish.

Local tools for expedited packaging, links to SCM.

openSUSE 11.2 and all pre-release builds (Factory, Milestones, RCs) were built entirely on OBS!

Powered by Ruby on Rails, XEN, Kiwi

Feb 4

SUSE Studio

Build SUSE-based appliances (custom-built distro images) on the web.

Select a base image

Modify package selections

Customize basic behavior

Overlay files onto the image

Build to HDD/USB disc image, Live ISO, VMWare, or XEN.

Test Drive: run the appliance on Studio servers, test, configure, add changes to the base image.

GUI interface through VNC Flash control

or turn on networking for ssh, http, https.

Powered by Ruby on Rails, XEN, Kiwi

Feb 4


Unified messaging dispatcher. (What?)

Users create preferences: what do I want to be notified about (openFATE feature changes, OBS status)

Resources send updates via REST

Relays check for updates applicable to users, and sends updates to Agents

User defines preferred Agent (Web, RSS, Email, Jabber)

Public feeds (Web, RSS, twitter )

Feb 4


Open-source Git hosting. What Github is to Ruby, Gitorius is to Linux.

Official host of:








...and over 5,500 others

Full source code (for running your own Gitorius server) at

Feb 4

openSUSE 11.3

Release date: Thursday, July 15, 2010

Gnome 2.29.5 ... heading for 2.30

KDE 4.4 RC1 ... heading for 4.4 final

LXDE moves into to tier 2 desktop list

Mozilla updates: Firefox 3.6, Thunderbird 3.0.1 3.2-beta4( ... heading for 3.2

VirtualBox 3.1.0 Beta1 (3.0.90) .. heading for 3.1

Amarok 2.2.2, digikam 1.0.0, ktorrent 3.3.2

kernel 2.6.32

zypper updates for more user-friendliness and more download options.

clutter updates

Qt 4.6 w/multitouch & gesture recognition

courier IMAP updates for Thunderbird

Nagios 3.2 w/ improved reporting

net-snmp now support IPv6

Samba 3.4.5 (lots-o-bugfixes)

GNU Debugger 7.0 w/ python support

Cmake 2.8 w/ a QT gui & support for Visual Studio 2010, Eclipse

KIWI 3.95, used in OBS & Studio

& lots-o-bugs!

Download Factory to keep on top of the developing version (if you dare).

openSUSE 11.3 - Progress in Motion: The openSUSE Ecosystem, Part 7

On Thursday, February 4th I gave a talk for the Bellingham Linux Users Group (BLUG), 'touring' openSUSE 11.2 as a desktop OS, and giving a broad overview of the projects and community that culminates in the openSUSE Linux distribution. For those who missed it, here's part seven of the written interpretation of my discussion.

11.3M2 released on February 17th, right on schedule. M2 includes final releases of many major projects that were in prerelease for M1: KDE 4.4, 3.2, and VirtualBox 3.1.4.

11.3 is shaping up to be an unusually large update on the desktop, with major updates to KDE and Gnome, as well as the addition of LXDE as a lightweight desktop. Empathy may finally supplant Pidgin as the default Gnome IM client, and Digikam and Evolution both have substantially improved new releases.

Under the hood, kernel 2.26.33 (which is now in RC8) is the working kernel, and hwinfo 16.12 adds new cpu feature detection.

Development tools are also getting a shakeup, with Monodevelop 2.2 (on Mono 2.6), Bootchart 2.0, and a host of updates to the Kiwi imaging system (which powers OBS, SUSE Studio, and openSUSE's LTSP implementation).

Current work is now focused on moving over to GCC 4.5 for the M3 release, scheduled for March 4.

You can always download the current development release at