First openSUSE Community Conference in North America Coming This Fall

The openSUSE Project logo
Image via Wikipedia

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!