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openSUSE 12.2: Brought to you by “an extremely talented group of people”

January 23rd, 2013 by

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In September, the openSUSE community released openSUSE 12.2 all around the world. So what have the responses been since that Wednesday a little over three months ago, and what can we learn for openSUSE 12.3, which is just three months away?

Community feedback

Everyone was very enthusiastic about the release. On the social networks we had hundreds of +1′s, likes and shares for the release announcement from the over 12000 Google+ users with openSUSE in their circle. With almost as many followers on Twitter and about 7K on Facebook, these networks were also full of discussions about the release and the sharing of the good news. The general vibe was a good one and there was lots of excitement.

On the various social media and in the article comments section, discussions about the release took place. Quickly after it was out, Will Stephenson first treated us on a picture of Geeko finishing an important download after which Rabauke told us openSUSE would soon see KDE SC 4.9.1 packages. This spread quickly to the other social media and as soon as packages were available, discussions about the merits of this release ensued. We also heard that GNOME 3.6 would have packages as soon as it is released, and GNOME 2 fork Mate and the GNOME Shell alternative Cinnamon were both packaged and built for openSUSE 12.2 as well!

Aside from these Open Build Service projects, the awesome Tumbleweed was update rebased on openSUSE 12.2 and the the Studio team let us know that openSUSE 12.2 was available for your customization.
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Our channels also discussed the release itself. We informed our community about the features of openSUSE and availability of top technologies like LibreOffice and Firefox. People wrote about their first impressions and what they liked. On Facebook, many people posted screenshots of their new desktop like this, this, this and this. It was noted that the french hosting provider OVH already has a cheap hosting option (down to 15 euros a month for a dedicated server) with openSUSE 12.2 as beta available in the release week!

Troubleshooting and advice

People of course asked each other for advice – is it time for btrfs on 12.2 or not yet? Is it any faster? And what is the hardware support of 12.2?

There was trouble shooting with wifi, vlc, java and more. A geeko as flexible as ours can never be absolutely perfect. Gertjan Lettink, one of the Facebook group administrators, pointed out that Facebook is not the right venue for support, we’ve got forums for that – but still, lots of help was asked and given.

To promote the release, the release team did a well visited google hangout (picture) and our artwork team provided you all with a twitter background and a facebook cover!

There was also a video made to show openSUSE install and boot to a KDE desktop compressed to 1 minute and 30 seconds – which got over 15.000 views until today!

Reception of the press

We’ve seen a lot of positive feedback regarding openSUSE 12.2 via the press with over 60 articles and reviews recorded by us. It had the VAR guy saying he believes openSUSE is “an important force in the larger open source ecosystem” and serverwatch headlining “openSUSE 12.2 Stabilizes Linux”.  While those of us in the know recognize journalistic hyperbole when we see it, it’s great to have a pat on the back.

The most thorough review to date is the look at the Great Lizard from the Linux Action Show team. Not only did they love our release – they also encountered a few issues.

On the positive side, the guys absolutely loved the release in terms of stability. They greatly appreciate our focus on a longer release cycle and slightly more conservative package selections to provide something that does its job well. The attention to detail in the installer, offering a separate /home partition, detecting mount points (including Windows!) and the ability to do a headless install over a VNC connection raised eyebrows: impressive!

They also recognized openSUSE as having an absolutely awesome desktop experience, especially running KDE’s Plasma Desktop. openSUSE 12.2 boots fast, starts applications fast and in general brings a completely smooth desktop experience. It’s smart – too. They noticed openSUSE offering to create a separate /home folder upon installation (and even detecting your existing one) and responded with “finally, someone gets it!”. They also saw that openSUSE detects the windows D:\ drive and mounts it under /windows_d – which makes for a “seamless experience” according to the reviewers.

Lack of focus in openSUSE?

Criticism came on the focus of openSUSE: is it a desktop or a server? The enterprise functionality on the server side is there – in openSUSE, you can click a domain controller ready in a few clicks. But it just can’t compete with CentOS which offers binary compatibility with its enterprise cousin – you can drop-in RHEL once you’ve tested on CentOS. Same in Ubuntu – support is always close to what you are running. From openSUSE to SLE is still a hurdle. The gentlemen felt that with the default KDE desktop “the most attractive I’ve seen”, openSUSE has by far the best Enterprise-ready desktop in hands, beating the Ubuntu and Red Hat competition. It is attractive, fast, responsive and easy, maybe openSUSE should focus on their desktop more?

PackageKit issues at LAC

PackageKit issues at LAC

But there were also some problems. Prime among those were issues with package management – the discrepancy between the native zypper tool & YaST for administration by root on one hand and the PackageKit side of things with Apper and gpk-tools on the other hand has a lack of consistency which creates some confusion. Patterns are cool but have dependency issues and are hard to discover. Also, YaST can be a tad verbose in listing and resolving package conflict and letting you handle it – sometimes this could be made a bit easier. They also felt that our handling of proprietary drivers (or rather, lack of handling that) was a bit surprising and last but not least, one of them bumped into a bug in our brand new boot loader GRUB2.

The openSUSE team worked with community members to fix the issues the gentlemen encountered (as well as many others) and we can now confidently say that the problems they LAS reviewers bumped into have been decisively fixed or will be, soon. Right now, for example, Release Manager Coolo is working hard on making sure PackageKit 0.8 is in shape and will not be blocking any zypper activity or the other way around. So, that, leaves us with their summary:

“openSUSE is a cohesive distro and it feels like it is being done by an extremely talented group of people.”.

What more can we say?
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Download numbers

We again collected some statistics on the downloads of openSUSE. There’s quite a drop in downloads – our release manager attributed this to the delay. Many people were already running the latest RC, which was very stable, and just did a zypper dup on the release day. True or not, combined with a more and more popular Tumbleweed rolling release, it probably explains at least some of the difference. But at the same time – there’s surely work we can do to improve, both in terms of marketing as well as development.

The number of downloaded openSUSE installation DVD’s and Netinstall images within the first 24 hours totals over 65.000 with almost half (46%) of that 64 bit. On bittorrent, another 8.000 ISO images were downloaded. GNOME and KDE LiveCD’s did great too, with around 12K KDE and 8.5K GNOME downloads from bittorrent and download.opensuse.org combined. A complete breakdown for the first day on download.opensuse.org:

Downloads
Medium 200 302
Addon-Lang-i586 11 2976
Addon-Lang-x86_64 9 1561
Addon-NonOss-BiArch-i586-x86_64 30 2121
DVD-i586 564 20788
DVD-x86_64 863 16620
GNOME-LiveCD-i686 138 3279
GNOME-LiveCD-x86_64 130 3104
KDE-LiveCD-i686 197 4345
KDE-LiveCD-x86_64 249 4274
NET-i586 42 1439
NET-x86_64 43 1766
Sum 2476 62575
65051

One contributor runs a server making pretty bittorrent graphs!

While these are a lot of downloads, as said, these numbers don’t show upgrades to 12.2 by our existing user base via the online upgrade method and those running Tumbleweed have also moved to openSUSE 12.2 now without any additional efforts.

Thank to all involved, especially to translators, social media and forum promoters, the artwork team, and many others who worked to make openSUSE 12.2 a success.
Lessons

Lessons for openSUSE 12.3

Of course this release did teach us a few things. While openSUSE 12.2 turned out to be a great release, there is room for improvement! Some of these thoughts you find below.

  • We should be testing Live CDs during the development lifecycle so brokenness doesn’t build up. Help welcome! We have already done so during the hackaton last weekend and we urge you to help during the RC’s!
  • We need better coordination between packagers on the UsrMerge and similar projects and bug reports.
  • The openSUSE [Boosters] Team was mostly occupied doing marketing and promotion tasks during the final release phase of the distribution, so some fixable bugs slipped through and were seen by reviewers as negatives. We need to step up our marketing efforts, and it’s why we planned the openSUSE 12.3 marketing/artwork hackaton end of this month!
  • Since core members of the Marketing Team are moving on to other responsibilities, it’s important that the project builds this team up again now so that can promote the next release effectively, especially completing and distributing press kits and release announcements further ahead of the actual release. Again, the hackaton will help with this.
  • An openSUSE Build Service reboot in release week brought the completion of the Gold Master image down to the wire – the project needs better coordination with teams inside SUSE.
  • Since openSUSE follows a development strategy best described as “undirected hacking”, making an exciting story out of the release is harder.  We need to plan features and themes for upcoming releases more in advance – this will make development more attractive as well as the marketing team’s job easier.

As you see, some thought went into the lessons learned form this release. In some area’s we’re already working on improvements, in other places we can use help with that. Input, ideas and especially work are very much appreciated! A better 12.3 release means more fun for everyone and we’re looking forward to it!

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15 Responses to “openSUSE 12.2: Brought to you by “an extremely talented group of people””

  1. Hi, I will try again, but 3/4 of of the time I have had problems installing open SUSE. In my early days of trying to install Linux, Ubuntu 8.04 LTS was my first success and I used it exclusively for two years. Ubuntu is the fallback I go to if I have installation problems with any Linux distro. I recently attempted to install open SUSE 12.1 as a dual boot on my laptop. Had problems – something about has to be installed in a certain part of the drive. I know with hours and hours of work I could’ve of figured out the problem, but was short on time? So I installed Ubuntu (even had install issues with Kubuntu) added KDE and removed Unity – happy with results. I have setup 4 extra partitions on a new computer I have, and I am saving one for open SUSE/KDE. Even though I had some issues, I still follow and admire open SUSU as a long time major GNU Linux player.

  2. The packagekit error in the snap which occurs when opening YaST occurs rarely on my GNOME version of openSUSE 12.2. It seems to be more prevalent in KDE version.

  3. Yuriy Plotnikov

    Hi!

    I’m working in kde and use last virtualbox in 12.2.
    After your last updates for kde in my virtualbox not working virtual machines, when press start virtual machine session kde make restart. I create new virtual machine with use old virtual disk and it begin worked but only start. Key properties any virtual machine make restart kde session too. Not working buffer exchange between virtual machine and host machine too. Till updates this worked.

    Yuriy Plotnikov

    • Seems like a bug worth reporting. Are you using all standard repositories? A restart of the session sounds like a graphics issue but it could also be that your drives are full or something like that, always check the state of your root, tmp and other partitions. A full drive can lead to the weirdest problems…

  4. Chika

    I’m curious about what might come of 12.3 and its move to KDE 4.10.x and whether this will finally be the version that beats out KDE 3 (so far I think 4.7 came closest). Still not sure about this whole systemctl thing under the bonnet but I suspect that I’ll need to do quite a bit of reading before I’m happy with it. I’ve been using service/chkconfig for too long for it to be a pleasant shift.

    Appreciate the comment on the GUI package kit vs. zypper on the cli. To be honest, I tend to stick to one or the other rather than combine them. Zypper has served me well and I’m somewhat mistrustful when somebody decides to re-invent the wheel as it were. If anything, it’s one reason why I prefer a distro to take its time with a new version, especially when something radically new is added.

    I am still a big fan of 11.4 (my various physical systems still use it), therefore, having tried both the subsequent distros. Just as I wasn’t that impressed with 11.2 and 11.3 but liked 11.4 immensely, I hope that the mistakes of 12.1 and 12.2 can be learned to give something really special with 12.3.

  5. “and GNOME 2 fork Mate and the GNOME Shell alternative Cinnamon were both packaged and built for openSUSE 12.2 as well!”

    Should I cry or laugh about this? :)

  6. pmller

    What about the release of an official, combined openSUSE LXDE/Xfce/E17 Live CD for 12.3? This would have a few advantages for openSUSE:
    1. More users, because someone who would like to use LXDE, Xfce or E17 does not want to download the whole DVD which is full of mostly unneeded KDE and Gnome software.
    2. This Live CD would surely be more bug-free than those that are published via Suse Studio.
    3. The complete, real openSUSE branding could be used without falling back to this more or less inconsistent “based_on_openSUSE” branding.

  7. Looking great for 12.3! Can’t wait.

    I second the request for an official alternative desktop edition live CD.

    My biggest complaint with 12.2 right now is the shockingly unstable YaST package manager. It CONSTANTLY crashes and makes it impossible to complete some operations. It wasn’t this bad in 12.1.

  8. openlizard

    I’m using openSUSE since 12.1, and I’m loving it.
    But I’ve found also that the update manager/Apper/packagekit is a nightmare.
    Fortunately, I’m always using sudo zypper up, and no problems with it so far! I’m exciting to see the new 12.3, looks amazing

  9. Hi,

    I did a full update from 11.3 to 12.2, scary – yes. It worked perfectly, and I have had no issues except a strange sound thing in some vbox instances.

    Keep up the good work.

  10. mortenB

    You cant compare CentOS/RHEL and OpenSuse/SLES. RHELs OpenSuse sidekick is Fedora and Fedora and RHEL are even further away from each other than OpenSuse and SLES. CentOS is just a compilation of the opensource RHEL source rpms with removed Redhat copyrights. It is also missing most of the redhat gui tools, so it is not that shiny to manage.

    We develop software on CentOS and deploy to customers that are all running RHEL. I would have loved to have the same possibility with a free version of SLES to deploy on, so we could have supported SLES also.

  11. Derek

    This is a great, great distro. I’ve installed most versions since 5.2 (but that needed a glibc compile straight after installation in order to update Xfree86 to run my cheap SiS graphics chipset. Things really took off for me with the 6.x series with 6.4 perhaps being my all time favourite. It will be blow away by modern versions but for its time there was nothing to compare imho.

    Everyone will have their own favourites, but for me the best of the best were 6.4, 7.3, 8.2, 10.0, 11.3, and 12.2.

    I have a number of ‘Professional’ boxsets with the the excellent full manual sets, and can never seem to bring myself to get rid of them, even though their use is ‘limited’ in today’s world! :)

    I really have great hopes for 12.3 and can’t wait to start installing it on my main work machines, as always.

    A really heartfelt thanks to the SuSE teams past and present for such great disrtos!