Are you wishing (like me) that you could be at the openSUSE Summit in Orlando, Florida this weekend? I’ve been gathering the best tweets and images from the conference at Storify.
Are you wishing (like me) that you could be at the openSUSE Summit in Orlando, Florida this weekend? I’ve been gathering the best tweets and images from the conference at Storify.
You may have heard that Canonical is formally dropping support of the KDE-based version of the Ubuntu desktop come October. This is kinda old news now, but it seems that at least some folks want to make a big deal of it. So I’m feeling the need to talk about it too.
Today I bring the disappointing news that Canonical will no longer be funding my work on Kubuntu after 12.04. Canonical wants to treat Kubuntu in the same way as the other community flavors such as Edubuntu, Lubuntu, and Xubuntu, and support the projects with infrastructure. This is a big challenge to Kubuntu of course and KDE as well.
A few days later, Riddell’s counterpart at openSUSE, Will Stephenson responded to the situation on the KDE Contributor’s Blog in a way that may seem a little cynical, but struck me as a completely valid response.
After a week had passed, TechRepublic’s open source pundit Jack Wallen said he read Riddell’s announcement “with a heavy heart.” The money quote here:
try to find a major Linux distribution that ships with KDE as the default desktop. You’re going to be hard pressed to do so.
He said the best way for KDE to survive this blow was to develop its own distribution, which he named KOS. In the poll accompanying the story, 51% of his readers agreed with that strategy.
Bruce Byfield at Datamation (a fine writer for a variety of Linux publications) may have overhyped Wallen’s article just a little, and turned it into part of a wave of “KDE Death Watch” commentary. The story does effectively dispute the idea of KDE disappearing, but does again raise the question of “Just what is a major KDE distribution.”
Younger folks in the audience may not remember Rodney Dangerfield, the comic who built his entire career on the theme that he “got no respect at all” (Check out the films Caddyshack or Back to School to learn more about the Dangerfield persona). One of the most striking things about all these stories is how Kubuntu is (allegedly) the last major Linux distribution with a KDE desktop. Perhaps I’m biased, but when did openSUSE cease being a major distribution? While it has never been dominant in terms of mindshare or installations (admittedly both hard to quantify), the little green Geeko with the outstanding system administration tool just chugs along.
The SUSE distro has been famously associated with KDE throughout its life. Some historical notes:
openSUSE is not going away, and will continue to be a “KDE-first” distribution for a long time to come. I’m looking forward to seeing how big our community is at the openSUSE Summit this fall.
Byfield certainly makes an excellent case for why KDE is not dead, and certainly won’t be on life support anytime soon. Even Wallen (who doesn’t really use KDE anymore) concedes that “KDE is one of the most polished, professional desktops available for the Linux operating system and deserves to be made available through some official channel.”
I disagree that KDE needs to put out its own distro to succeed long-term. The world probably does not need many more Linux distributions. Linux users should always have a choice of desktop environments and associated applications. I love that I can run apps designed for GNOME on my KDE desktop, and want to continue to do that.
KDE certainly needs to attract more developers, volunteer or otherwise. More users and platforms will follow. As I noted last week, the Spark tablet is a great way to build pathways to the future.
Things may not be entirely rosy for KDE today, but I can heartily raise both hands when Wallen says “Linux without KDE is simply not the Linux I’ve known and loved since the mid-90s.” May that continue to be true.
Thrilled to bits to report that for the first time in the Americas, openSUSE users, developers and folks who might want to be in those categories will be gathering in Orlando, Florida this September. This community conference doesn’t have a name yet (more on that later), but is sure to be informative and exciting. As with all openSUSE activities, participants will certainly have a lot of fun!
The story is that the annual corporate SUSE conference is happening September 18-21. This is where system administrators, developers and other people who make their living using SUSE Linux Enterprise gather. Just speculation on my part, but I’ll guess that Attachmate/SUSE got a better deal from the hotel if they reserved the entire week. The beneficiaries of this arrangement include the scruffy brigands of openSUSE.
Planning for the event began last Wednesday on Internet Relay Chat, with a dozen or so active participants, including your humble scribe (see the full transcript) (see a summary). We want to make this a conference that is comfortable for both basic users and the developers who make openSUSE the great distribution it is.
Aside: For KDE users who may be feeling abandoned by Canonical/Kubuntu today, maybe it’s time to look at another powerful, yet simple desktop Linux distribution.
The first item on our agenda, though, is naming this first ever conference. Quite a few names were suggested at the kickoff chat, and a poll is being conducted at openSUSE Connect. Choose your favorite before Saturday!
If this conference excites you, you can help make it happen. Visit the conference wiki and sign up for one or more of the task teams.
Watch this space for more news as things move forward.
Last weekend, I got my system ready to install the latest and greatest from the openSUSE community. After I wrote that post, I thought I was going right into the installation, but life intervened (as it so often does). Between tending to other priorities (some of us are still working while the economic crisis continues) and wanting to reserve a large block of time for the install, just in case anything went wrong, I didn’t get to install openSUSE 12.1 until Wednesday.
The good news is that it went pretty smoothly. Let me tell you about it…
The last item of preparation last week was to burn the KDE LiveCD to use for the installation. I kept the Transmission BitTorrent client going 24×7 throughout this period, sharing the 32-bit DVD, KDE and GNOME ISO files (in case you’re wondering, the share ratio indicating the demand for each file wound up at over 5 for the DVD, and both live CDs around 2, with GNOME slightly ahead) for roughly a week.
Before I shut down the laptop, I popped the burned CD-RW into the holder, without sliding it in. I powered down the machine, and the CD drive pulled in the disc. After a couple of deep breaths, I fired up the laptop, and the CD loaded and displayed the KDE desktop, as expected. Two things made me happy to begin with:
In the KDE folder view that presented itself on the LiveCD was a lovely Install button. The adventure was about to begin. Clicking the button generated a warning box, telling me I didn’t have enough memory (less than 1GB) to complete the install and run anything else. While thinking “Wow, you mean with a newer system I would have been able to get screen shots? Or even tweet the whole process?”, I resigned myself to reality and started the install. Sorry folks!
The openSUSE installation process has changed a bit since the v10.3 install I documented in openSUSE Linux Unleashed back in 2007, but similar to more recent versions. On the first screen, the installer identifies the language and keyboard you use, with drop-down menus in case it guesses wrong. It also displays the GNU General Public License v2 text, which you do not have to “sign,” but have the option to read.
Clicking Next takes you to the gorgeous full-color world map that allows you to define your time zone, either by clicking your spot on the map, using the drop-down menus or some combination of both. Because this is YaST, you get the option to use the Network Time Protocol (NTP) to set your clock with the help of time servers associated with ultra-accurate atomic clocks. As I had yet to set up my Internet connection, this didn’t work—but I got it working (set to the us.pool.ntp server) later. Click Next.
The third screen offered a suggestion for partitioning the hard drive. YaST reproduced the existing partition table exactly as I had it written down last week, and recommended only reformatting the root (/) partition. For a truly clean install, I could have reformatted /home too, but I was getting anxious and lazy, so I let it slide.
After the suggested partition table, you get three check boxes to select from:
When I clicked Next, I ran into the first glitch of the install, based on the fact that the LiveCD was still running. While the install program (YaST) was trying to identify an initial set of software packages, PackageKit was using the same YaST Software Management module to check for new software, generating an error message from the install program. I had to press Ctrl+Esc to get the System Activity module up to kill PackageKit to continue. that’s Tip #1 for a first-time installer!
Once the software conflict was resolved, the fourth screen of the install appeared, where I created my first user. YaST asks for your Full Name, and offers your first name as your user name. You can change this manually if you prefer something else. You are then asked to type a password twice for that user.
Here you also get three check boxes for this user:
Also on this screen, you can select an authentication method (how the system is to know that you are really you). By default, openSUSE will use the classic UNIX method of a passwd file in /etc. If you have one, you can also select a digital certificate stored on a Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP) server, a Network File Server (NFS) or a Windows share. Your password will be encrypted using a SHA-512 key, the most secure protocol available, by default. You could choose a lesser cipher (DES, MD5 or SHA-256), but I don’t know why you’d do such a thing.
If you opted to create a different Root/admin password, clicking Next lets you set that password, otherwise you will see the Summary page of all the decisions you’ve made up to this point, with a final opportunity to make changes. You can also select what happens at boot time on this machine. openSUSE presumes you want to start at runlevel 5, with a graphical desktop, but if you just want to run a server of some type, with just command-line access, you can choose that here.
Click Next, and you’ll get the last warning to turn back. The installer then formats the partition(s) it’s slated to and starts “copying the root filesystem.” You can walk away or read a magazine article while it works. On my laptop, the install took 27 minutes. You will be asked to reboot the system.
After the reboot, the automatic hardware configuration kicks in, and two minutes later, your shiny new KDE desktop appears on your screen! From starting the LiveCD to a new working system took less than an hour, and would have been even faster had I not been taking copious notes.
Of course, I wasn’t quite done yet. You remember the problem I had with PackageKit earlier in the process? Well, I still hadn’t done my network setup, so the newly installed PackageKit replacement, called Apper, tried to find updates and promptly crashed.
I opened YaST, and set up my DSL connection with AT&T. After some poking around, I finally found KNetworkManager in the KDE “Configure Desktop” settings application and set up the wireless connection too. Finally, I set up my software repositories in YaST without a hitch. The KDE Crash Reporter was then able to get a proper backtrace, which was sent off to the KDE team.
Over the course of the holiday weekend, I’ve had to fix a few settings, and install a bunch more software, but overall I’m a happy guy! Yes, I’ve successfully booted to Windows and booted back to openSUSE again. I hope your install/upgrade goes as well as mine. If you’re still on the fence about installing, here are some of the other new features. Don’t forget: Have a lot of fun!
You may already know, but openSUSE released v12.1 of the community distribution this week. With a new number before the decimal point, I thought it would be a good time for a fresh, clean install on my aging laptop. I could just upgrade my existing v11.4 installation, but I like to see what the new install looks like from time to time. Doing a clean install also means I can share the process with you too.
Clean installs do require a bit of preparation, though. You will be wiping your partitions, so you want to preserve your existing data, and a bit of your configurations before embarking on a new install. In this post, I’ll share what I did.
While you can find software to do just about anything with just the default repositories in openSUSE, sometimes you need something that isn’t in there, or even in the community repositories that you get access to with every installation. Fortunately, the openSUSE Build Service (OBS) allows anyone to create packages to distribute with openSUSE, or any major Linux distribution.
When you use the 1-Click Install option, the packager adds his/her repository to your system so you get all the updates. Checking what packages come from what repositories can save you some time later.
As I write this, it occurs to me that the repo list is probably stored in /etc somewhere, but you will still want to write down the repo names and the relevant packages that to install on 12.1.
Speaking of packages I got from a non-standard repository, I use BackInTime to handle regular backups of my /home drive to my ever-trusty Seagate FreeAgent external drive. It backs up that info weekly, and is a no-brainer to set up. Nonetheless, I wanted to ensure that everything got backed up before the uninstall/reinstall, so I wanted to make my own archived /home drive, and also the /etc space (where system configuration files tend to be kept).
I thought that would be a simple task with KDE‘s handy Ark tool, but I ran into a permissions issue. Apparently the place I wanted to back up to was restricted to Root! So using the Krusader file manager in Root mode, I was able to change the permissions for the backup folder, and perform the backup; shrinking the 25GB on my /home path to just 9GB. Data is safe!
Now some people might get angry with me, but I still have the occasional need for that Microsoft operating system. Lots of folks still use it, and the appropriate screen shot is still helpful for my readers (thanks, all of you!). So I’ve been running a dual-boot system for pretty much this entire millennium. Maybe you don’t have to, so you can skip this step. Otherwise, I highly recommend knowing what your system currently looks like. the openSUSE install program should recognize everything that’s there already, but in the off-chance that something goes wrong, if you know how Linux already sees your drive, chances are better it will stay that way.
Again, YaST helps in this regard with the Expert Partitioner module. This tool will reorganize your drive if you need it to, but I’m just going to look at the table now. I wrote down the current partition table, noting that the physical drive was split up into eight pieces (including an extended partition that holds just about everything). I made careful notes of the file system on each partition (so I know where Windows sits) and the size of each. After I wrote it down by hand, I took a screen shot for additional peace of mind. I should be able to recreate that during the install.
As I awoke on the morning of November 16, openSUSE v12.1 was released. I went straight to the download site, and downloaded the torrent files for the full 32-bit DVD release, and LiveCDs containing the GNOME 3.2 desktop and KDE 4.7.2. I can’t make DVDs with this laptop, but I suspected that I could be of help to others if I got all the stuff. The Transmission torrent client went to work as I did the same. When I got home from work, all three files were downloaded to the FreeAgent drive and seeding other people’s downloads.
I guessed right, as my share ratios indicate the DVD is by far the most popular form of download. Interestingly, the GNOME LiveCD has maintained a slight edge over KDE every time I’ve checked the ratios.
BTW, If all this talk of torrents and share ratios have you scratching your head, please let me know. This post has gone on too long already, but I’m happy to take up the topic later.
So let’s see: Data’s backed up; we know where to find random packages, we know where to install the new version and got the installation program. All that’s left is to put the install program on CD. For that task, I use K3B, the excellent CD/DVD burning tool that comes with KDE. Throw a CD-RW into the drive, go to Tools > Burn Image, and point to the openSUSE-12.1-KDE-LiveCD-i686.iso file. Another dialog comes up, where I ask K3B to confirm the data is valid on the CD after writing it, and 10 minutes later, I have a CD ready to go.
In the next post, I’ll tell you how the install went. In the meantime, let me know how you prepare for a new install. Fewer steps? Always just a dist-upgrade?
If you’ve already upgraded to openSUSE 12.1, I’d love to hear how it went, and what you think. Of course, if anything went badly, please file bug reports!
It’s summer in Milwaukee, and I haven’t been spending too much time in front of a keyboard lately. You’re surprised?
Anyway, I do have a lot of things on my mind, and here are some of them:
I’ll be the first to tell you I am close to clueless about business trends. Anyone who’s ever read my reaction to the Novell-Microsoft agreement can figure that out pretty quickly. That said, it’s been a week since Attachmate “agreed to acquire” (amazing phrase, that) Novell, the parent company of the SUSE Linux products, and unquestionably a major sponsor of the openSUSE community.
Since then, there’s been a fair amount of activity among the openSUSE faithful:
a repo that is a rolling updated version of openSUSE containing the latest “stable” versions of packages for people to use.
I’d describe it like this: An “in-between” version of openSUSE that offers packages that are a little bit more current than the most recent release, but not as buggy as the cutting-edge Factory repository. For those of us who like stability, but don’t want to miss out on the latest.
So what does this have to do with the Attachmate-Novell hookup? It tells me that regardless of what happens at the corporate level, there is energy in our community. There’s reason to believe that energy can sustain this distribution for a long time.
Got any thoughts about the future of openSUSE, and other community distributions with a major corporate sponsor? Add a comment here.
Had a great time with the Madison Linux User Group Saturday. About a dozen folks skipped the second half of the Badger game (and a really nice fall day), and joined us at ITT Technical Institute for my Introduction to openSUSE presentation.
As most folks there use Ubuntu, I focused on the things that make openSUSE stand out, which was mainly YaST (the installer and system administration tool). I also spent a great deal of time showing off KDE SC 4.5—actually more time than I wanted to, as I managed to hang up my system!
A backup laptop appeared (thanks, Doug!) to permit a brief demo of the openSUSE Build Service. That part was certainly not as polished as the one Joos describes here, but was helpful, I think. I finished with a short summary of the community strategy discussion.
The group was amazingly patient through all the software issues and projection miscues that seemed to plague me from the get-go. Questions were good and the general comments were smart and useful. As noted, a great time!
Here are the slides (even the ones I didn’t show!):
Thanks to Doug Whitfield, who invited me; Brad Stone, who kept me informed and otherwise took care of me; the openSUSE Marketing team for the slide templates; and those who participated.
Yes, I’ve been quiet the last couple weeks. Been preparing my first openSUSE talk in quite awhile. Speaking to the Madison Linux User Group (MadLUG) at 1PM Central Time (more info here). In the course of an hour or so, we’re going to cover YaST, KDE, the openSUSE Build Service (OBS) and if time permits, there will be discussion of the strategy process.
I’ll have a few openSUSE 11.3 DVDs to give away, and some really cheap copies of openSUSE Linux (10.3) Unleashed. Come on down if you’re in the neighborhood. If you’re not, watch this space for a summary. With some good fortune, I’ll get the slides posted too.
So of course, while I’m spending a glorious and relaxing week hanging out in Boulder, Colorado, the KDE community is working overtime fixing a few showstopper bugs. Version 4.5 of the KDE Software Collection (also known as KDE SC) was released Tuesday, a week late from the original release plan, but it looks like a pretty good one.
Tyler Ballance over at OMG! SUSE! has a good overall summary of the highlights of this release. I got my Kubuntu laptop upgraded with only a little fussing with APT repositories (semi-inevitable on launch day). After just a day of playing around, I’m pretty happy.
This initial happiness is really centered on several small things:
Yet, it is still a dot-zero release, and some weirdness has been puzzling me:
More research required, but if anyone has an idea, I’m all ears.
Meanwhile, if you want to try KDE 4.5, instructions for some of the leading distros can be found here (thanks to Planet KDE):
I’ll have more on this release in the coming days. In the meantime, let me know what kind of experience you want or are having with KDE 4.5 in the comments.