The openSUSE Ecosystem

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 a written interpretation of my discussion.

In this post, I'll cover the openSUSE 11.2 release. In my next few posts, I will cover the rest of my topics:
  • openSUSE Users & Members
  • openFATE
  • openSUSE Build Service
  • SUSE Studio
  • Hermes
  • Gitorius
  • and openSUSE 11.3
Additionally, my final post for those that just want to cut to the chase will be my abbreviated presentation notes covering the above, plus a few links to the following projects that I just couldn't squeeze in:
  • Additional openSUSE microcommunities (Edu, Medical, etc.)
  • Moblin & Goblin
  • Kiwi
  • and Mono
I hope you find this useful!

openSUSE 11.2

Released on Thursday, November 12th, 2009, 11.2 was the third of four releases of the openSUSE 11 line. In addition to a the typical incremental application upgrades, and the introduction of some exciting new technologies, 11.2 also included some dramatical political and process changes, dominated by the decision to make KDE the default desktop. openSUSE, is once again the premier KDE distribution, evidenced by KDE's top-billing of the KDE-Four-Live images on openSUSE.

KDE 4.3 provides a modern, efficient, connected desktop environment. Firefox and have been tightly integrated, using KDE file selectors, notifications, icon themes, etc. 4.3 provides the first complete revision of the 'standard' KDE apps, including updates to KNetworkManager, Amarok, Digikam, k3b, and Konversation, among others. All of this application integration is topped off with a polished graphical theme: Air.

Despite the decision to default to KDE, the Gnome desktop continues to be well supported, well integrated, and well polished. Jakub 'jimmac' Steiner brought out a clean, dark, green Sonar theme, used as the new default from grub's boot messages through to Gnome's desktop. Although Ubuntu 9.10 also shipped with some dark themes, Sonar differentiates itself by maintaining a light document area that more cleanly incorporates non-native applications, such as Qt/KDE apps, Java apps, and Title bars and some configuration headers are adorned with jimmac's Fifth Leg font, which is a free font inspired by the font used for SUSE logos.

In addition to improvements to the desktop environments themselves, both KDE and Gnome include mature social networking applications. Choqok and Gwibber are microblogging apps (Twitter, Identica, Facebook, etc.) for KDE and Gnome, respectively. Both Pidgin and Kopete instant messenger clients include Facebook chat plugins. KDE's Plasma desktop includes plugins and widgets for integrating with microblogs and openDesktop.

Deeper down the stack, 11.2 includes some exciting new technologies. The desktop kernel is installed by default with the graphical desktops (the default kernel is preferred for server applications). Ext4 is now the default file system, but the upcoming btrfs is included as well. Also on the file system front, complete hard drives can now be encrypted during installation. Zypper & libzypp, the universal package management library, are faster than ever, more feature complete, and dependency resolution has been completely reworked with an algorithm called Sat Solver.

The community addon repositories have been refined, and include some intelligent scripting to ease use. Repositories are available for the current versions of all major desktops, or backports up Gnome and KDE applications to the currently shipped desktops. Mozilla,, Mono, VirtualBox, VLC, and Wine repositories are available, providing current releases and betas of their applications. Some development repositories are available as well, for revisions on Databases and PHP. If you are looking for a broader application library, both the Contrib and Packman repositories are available for subscription. Most helpful, in my opinion, is the Nvidia repository: subscribing to the repository automatically selects the appropriate driver for your Nvidia hardware, and the matching kernel module for your system. Updates to the kernel will be cooperatively updated through dependencies, ensuring that your kernel and proprietary driver stay in sync without ever having to build it. Access to these repositories is through YaST => Software Repositories => Add => Community Repositories.

A wide variety of options are available for both downloading and using openSUSE 11.2. New to the lineup are 'hybrid' live ISO images, which can be burned to CD for a typical live boot, or copied to a usb drive with the remaining space used for persistent storage. The live images are available for both Gnome and KDE desktops, as well as the full DVD install image, and a small network install image, all in both 32-bit and 64-bit x86 (PowerPC images are no longer provided) Additional CD images are available for extra language support, and non-free software. Downloads are available directly via FTP from a preferred mirror, by BitTorrent, Metalink, or you may select a specific mirror if you choose.

openSUSE Ambassadors, including myself, can provide the awesome 11.2 community DVD. This dual-layered double-sided disc is 32-bit on one side, 64-bit on the reverse, and will boot to Live Gnome, Live KDE, the DVD installer, or a set of utilities. Contact me if you'd like one!

Google follows 37Signals Lead, Gives IE6 the Finger

16 Months after 37Signals made their move to curb IE6, Google announced today that it would do the same, for much the same reasons.

Here's the email I received from Google explaining the move:

Dear Google Apps admin,​

In order to continue to improve our products and deliver more sophisticated features and performance, we are harnessing some of the latest improvements in web browser technology. This includes faster JavaScript processing and new standards like HTML5. As a result, over the course of 2010, we will be phasing out support for Microsoft Internet Explorer 6.0 as well as other older browsers that are not supported by their own manufacturers.

We plan to begin phasing out support of these older browsers on the Google Docs suite and the Google Sites editor on March 1, 2010. After that point, certain functionality within these applications may have higher latency and may not work correctly in these older browsers. Later in 2010, we will start to phase out support for these browsers for Google Mail and Google Calendar.

Google Apps will continue to support Internet Explorer 7.0 and above, Firefox 3.0 and above, Google Chrome 4.0 and above, and Safari 3.0 and above.

Starting this week, users on these older browsers will see a message in Google Docs and the Google Sites editor explaining this change and asking them to upgrade their browser. We will also alert you again closer to March 1 to remind you of this change.

In 2009, the Google Apps team delivered more than 100 improvements to enhance your product experience. We are aiming to beat that in 2010 and continue to deliver the best and most innovative collaboration products for businesses.

Thank you for your continued support!


The Google Apps team

Email preferences: You have received this mandatory email service announcement to update you about important changes to your Google Apps product or account.

Google Inc.
1600 Amphitheatre Parkway
Mountain View, CA 94043

With Google Apps continuing to gain market share in government, corporate, and small business, this should help significantly in the efforts to rid the web of the one browser that makes web developers and designers cry.

Good riddance IE6!


On the heels of my presentation at LFNW09 on Cloud-based web development, I was asked what my qualifications were to present on the topic.

Personally, I think education is the best teacher, but sometimes you need a piece of paper to prove your skills. So, in addition to my 14 years of web development experience, two and a half years working on Ruby on Rails, and two years on BungeeConnect, I do have some certificates to back it up.

I'm a BCDN Member, having completed Bungee Labs' BungeeConnect Core Curriculum in October 2008:

I graduated Sang Shin's Ruby/JRruby/Rails Programming with Passion course in January 2009:

LFNW09 - Developing in the Clouds

I gave a talk at LFNW '09; I started with the question "can you create a web application, development to deployment, all in the browser?" I already knew the answer; yes, because of my experience with Bungee Labs' BungeeConnect project, and Heroku's HerokuGarden project.

A variety of solutions exist for creating web content in your browser, but most of them are exceptionally limited, or niche products. These include Yahoo Pipes, Google's Gadget Editor, and AppPad. Unfortunately, none of them provide an complete, robust development environment, leaving... wait for it... BungeeConnect and HerokuGarden. :-)

What the heck is BungeeConnect?

Bungee Connect, from Bungee Labs, is Object-Oriented Programming for the web. No HTML/JS/CSS required. Familiarity design patterns, on the other hand, is. But don't worry too much about it - there's a complete learning curriculum ( videos, sample code, even tests!) to get you up to speed.

The best way I know to demonstrate a programming language, though, is to dig in. So, here's 19-minute video showing the complete process of developing and deploying an app, from 0 to a published app.

Download native resolution video as OGG/Theora or AVI/h.264 (download link at the bottom).

You have what kind of garden?

In a fit of asexual reproduction, Heroku recently split their solution in two: is now a paid service for hosting Ruby on Rails in the cloud; continues to provide the service of my primary interest - web based development of live-deployed Ruby on Rails application. This is straight-up Ruby on Rails, no monkey business. You need to either know or be learning RoR, or this system will be useless to you. Thankfully, RoR has a robust community, so tools, tutorials and samples are never far away.

Again, I think its better to show than to talk, so here's the video: building an RoR app on HerokuGarden, in 12 minutes!

Download native resolution video as OGG/Theora or AVI/h.264 (download link at the bottom).

Small Note: Please don't judge my coding abilities in either environment, as a result of the samples. I do produce solid, well documented, tested code on a regular basis. Just not in the under-20-minutes category ;-)

Thanks to Brad at BungeeLabs for some visuals that help explain the BungeeConnect environment, and everyone who attended my presentation at LFNW. See you next year!

BungeeConnect Basecamp API version 0.1.4 "Green Bar" - Release Candidate

I revved the BungeeConnect Basecamp API tonight, with the following improvements:
  • Time Entries have complete test coverage. Thanks to Yamato Engine Specialists for allowing testing of the API with their account.
  • Messages and Comments now have complete test coverage (and yes, the tests pass).
  • Todo-Items now update all recommended fields; v0.1.2 only updated the text of the todo-item.
  • Milestones update successfully; Milestone due-dates were incorrectly types as DateTime - they are now properly typed as Date.
  • An issue with properly identifying responsible parties for milestones, and todo-items was resolved.
The following issues are still outstanding:
  • There is currently no support for Attachments.
Prerequisites (unchanged):
Just as a reminder, this code is released completely free to the BungeeConnect community; feel free to use and abuse it to your hearts content.

CampHappier Project

I'm also proud to announce that this code is also the first Release Candidate from the CampHappier Project: a group of code components arranged around the concept of making 37Signals' Basecamp Project Management app more feature rich via the API. Chime in on the Wiki or via GetSatisfaction.

Drop me a comment and let me know how you're using the code.