First openSUSE Community Conference in North America Coming This Fall

The openSUSE Project logo
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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.


openSUSE 11.0 and KDE 4

As you probably know already, openSUSE 11.0 is out, and undoubtedly doing magical things for users around the globe (if not for me just yet–that should happen in the next week or so).

The openSUSE development team was faced with a difficult dilemma with this release. The KDE 4.0 desktop environment was released in January, with an entirely new way of doing things. The Plasma desktop, Phonon multimedia framework, and Solid hardware framework represented some spectacular changes from the familiar KDE 3.x interface in place since 2002.

Unfortunately, some key pieces of the complete desktop (including the KOffice suite, Kontact personal information manager and Amarok multimedia player) had not yet migrated successfully to the new platform. So KDE 4.0 was defined, rightly so, as a work in progress, while v4.1 would be the more stable, mature platform.

Meanwhile, the openSUSE community had set itself the task of releasing new versions twice a year, making openSUSE 11 due in June 2008. The question loomed large early in the development cycle: Which KDE should be the default KDE desktop? The team decided to go with KDE 4, and worked hard to make it as usable as possible.

Since the release, there has been much controversy on the openSUSE lists about this decision. Benjamin Weber tries to put out the fires and clarify things in this post:

  • openSUSE is not forcing people to switch to KDE4. Users can switch to KDE4 when they wish. Both are included on openSUSE 11.0.
  • If you find bugs in or are missing functionality in KDE4 please file bug reports so it can be fixed.
  • If you have an opinion regarding when the timescale for moving to KDE4 you are free to get involved and influence the decisions. You do not have to resort to insulting developers on the mailing lists to be heard, in fact insulting developers so is a good way to ensure that people disregard your opinion.

Fundamentally, this is the only fair solution

A pair of opportunities to help openSUSE

Sorry for the light posting of late. Will have much to report soon. Meanwhile, I want to call everyone’s attention to special chances to participate in the openSUSE community.

First, whether you’re new to (or even just curious about) openSUSE or have been “having a lot of fun” for a decade, you can join in YaST Smash Friday. This is an effort to clean up the SUSE bug database related to the openSUSE system administration tool, YaST.

As Zonker Brockmeier says:

Join us on #openSUSE-Factory from 09:00 to 18:00 CEST. We’ll be
going through the Bugzilla and reviewing YaST bugs to see which bugs
are still valid, gathering information about existing bugs, and
generally paring down the bug count to help developers focus on the
most crucial problems.

Anyone can participate — you don’t have to be a developer or power user to join in, just point your browser at the openSUSE Bugzilla,
log in (be sure to create an account if you don’t have one already) and
start searching for bugs against YaST. Help verify bugs that are in
Bugzilla, and help close bugs that have already been fixed.

If you have a lot of time to help, you can install an old version of openSUSE and confirm the existence of bugs in the old version. If not, see if you can reproduce them in your current version. Even if you can’t do it today, it’s always bug smashing season.

Now if you have a little more experience with openSUSE, a call went out this week for more helpers on the #openSUSE IRC channel. This is one place where people can go for real-time help with openSUSE problems. Although I’m still getting used to IRC, I’m trying to monitor the channel a little more in Konversation (which conveniently starts the channel by default).

So let’s all try to help each other, and openSUSE generally!

Updating openSUSE on the Weekend

Saturday morning is a great day for updating your system. You don’t have corporate systems dominating the servers, and new releases (and the subsequent server hammering) rarely come out on the weekends. It could just be an illusion, but I’ve just always found it just a tad speedier. This weekend, there is a bunch of new things to play with:

It also looks like progress is on the horizon for my once-favorite mail client, Mozilla Thunderbird. Here’s one guy who looks forward to hearing more from Mozilla Messaging.

And just for fun, the annual SXSW Showcasing Artists torrent is ready for 2008 (download link).

One tip on updating in openSUSE 10.3: Online Update really only gets you bug fixes for your installed applications. If you’re interested in keeping up with  the latest and greatest versions of your software, go to YaST Software Management. When the Search screen opens, go to the Package menu. Go to All Packages. You’ll see a pair of Update choices: “if newer version available” or “unconditionally.” Usually you’ll want to just get the newer version. YaST will then tell you how many packages will be updated, which can number in the hundreds, but don’t panic. You’ll get to review the list of updates, and deselect any packages you don’t want to update now. Click Accept, and the normal download/install process begins.

Happy updating!

Last chance to vote in Linux Journal Readers Choice

Maybe I’m being a bit of a nag, but this will be the last time: You have approximately 24 hours from the time of this posting (that is, by the end of February 14) to vote for your favorites in the Linux Journal 2008 Readers’ Choice Survey.

As in all elections, please vote your conscience, but consider voting for openSUSE Linux Unleashed in Question 34.

Many thanks for your consideration.

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Reminder: Linux Journal Reader’s Choice Survey

Just a little reminder to vote in the Linux Journal 2008 Readers’ Choice Survey. You have until February 14, but perhaps you can cast a ballot while you’re waiting for the Super Bowl (or Super Tuesday or Mardi Gras/Carnival, depending on your location and inclinations) to start.

There are quite a few categories in which you can vote, but as previously noted, openSUSE Linux Unleashed is up for Favorite Linux Book of 2007. If the book has been helpful, or you just like the guy who wrote it, please consider scrolling down to #34 and checking the appropriate box.

Many thanks to those who have already voted! More thanks to those who will vote!

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Shameless Self-Promotion: openSUSE Linux Unleashed Up for LJ Reader’s Choice Award

You have no idea how honored and excited I am that openSUSE Linux Unleashed is on the Linux Journal 2008 Readers’ Choice Survey ballot for “Favorite Linux Book.”

There are some great titles on the list, but I’m quite proud of this edition of Unleashed. My goal is to be helpful to a broad range of  Linux users, and I like to think I succeeded this time.

So now I have a favor to ask: Sometime between now and Valentine’s Day (February 14, 2008), please visit the link above and tell LJ all about your favorite Linux things. The “Favorite Book” question is all the way down to #34, but you don’t necessarily have to answer in every category. Only one vote per person, please!! But tell all your friends too. Thanks!

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KDE 4.0 is out!

KDE 4.0 is released!

Several years of design, development and testing came together today for the release of KDE 4.0. This is our most significant release in our 11 year history and marks both the end of the long and intensive development cycle leading up to KDE 4.0 and the start of the KDE 4 era.

Packages are available for most major distributions, including openSUSE 10.2, 10.3 (
) and Factory (

To give the servers a small break, I’ll wait till tomorrow to pull this up. I’ve been playing with the release candidates for a little while, but I’m looking forward to giving the final release a spin. So far, KDE 4.0 is really pretty, but it hasn’t been especially productive.

There will be much posting here in the coming days as I try things out.

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Ubuntu, (open)SUSE, GNU and Linux: Roses and Other Names

There’s much to consider in a pair of articles on how best to evangelize Linux to the masses. The tech and other cents: There’s more to Linux than Ubuntu argues that too many writers, and users following them, think that Ubuntu IS Linux. He wants to remind people that there are other distributions out there.

Meanwhile, over at the citizen journalism site, Newsvine, Vinnl wants you to believe that telling people you use “Linux” is confusing to new people. When you instead tell people about the distribution you’re using, you endorse  “that combination of packages, software availability, and community support that you so appreciate.”

Comments in both pieces also raise the even more touchy subject of calling the whole ball of wax “GNU/Linux,” as Richard Stallman prefers/insists on.

As a writer, words are important to me. As a “Linux guy,” I’ve been committed to bringing my favorite operating system to the masses (some have called it “world domination”) for all of this century. For me, I don’t think there’s a one-size-fits-all solution for how to win people over–and that’s actually the way  I like it.

There’s nothing all that new to the “Ubuntification of Linux.” When I was first coming around the Linux community, Linux = Red Hat, at least in North America. In the corporate world, that’s still largely true. And there was a backlash. I have to admit that at the time, I didn’t want to leave Windows into the waiting arms of the “Microsoft of Linux.” So I first tried SUSE (but didn’t have a good enough machine to install it), and then got (and this will surely date me) Corel Linux. This  was a modified Debian desktop distribution with an easy install designed for ordinary users. I guess you can consider it an Ubuntu ahead of its time. There was lots that was wrong with the distro, which I won’t go into here. When it died, I used to tell people that the distro that combined the rock-solid stability of Debian with a simple install would be a killer.

I’m digressing, though. My point is that there’s always been a trendy and/or dominant distribution. After Red Hat, there was Mandrake (another tidbit: until very recently whenever I spoke to a support guy at SBC/AT&T/Yahoo and mentioned that I ran Linux, they’d tell me about their Mandrake experience. Every time!). Then Fedora Core…and now Ubuntu, which combines the rock-solid stability of Debian with a simple install and a very supportive community. Not going to gloat here.

So am I wrong to tell people “I run Linux” instead of openSUSE? Well, my publisher might like it better if I didn’t say “I write Linux books in my spare time” more often than “I wrote openSUSE Linux Unleashed.” (oh, there goes that plug again). But I figure that most people who even care about their operating system know “Linux” better than any distribution–yes, even Ubuntu. So I’ll continue to do that, and say “openSUSE Linux” if there’s some “hint of the geek” in the person I’m talking to.

Besides, now that I have my dual-boot Kubuntu/openSUSE Dell laptop, I couldn’t honestly say what collection of packages and community I like better. to my mind, it’s all Linux. Let’s go with that.

Anyone for a KDE/Gnome debate?

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