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openSUSE 12.1 Reveiew by Terence Lam

December 30th, 2011 by

This review is written by Terence Lam a student from Singapore sharing his experiences with openSUSE

In this review, I will install openSUSE 12.1, try out GNOME and KDE and also give a brief overview of advanced tools like YaST and have a look at ownCloud.

DVD Installer

The installer supports a large number of languages and had options that can be used both by beginners as well as advanced users. The YaST partitioner supports a large number of users. Keeping ext4 as the default filesystem, the installer also suggested using btrfs as the default filesystem for installation. One thing that caught my eye was the selection of the passwords, openSUSE recommends you to use strong passwords and by default it supports SHA256. The overview panel had a lot of options to customize my installation starting from my bootloader to software selection to networks. All in all, the installer maintains a healthy tradeoff between simplicity and flexibility.

KDE Desktop Environment

The KDE Desktop environment really enhanced my openSUSE experience. It contains many tools and features that could increase productivity. One of the most interesting features was the activity manager. It pushed multi-tasking to the next level by customising the desktop according to the tasks. Besides that, Dolphin , Amarok, KMail and KDE PIM provided a tight integration with the desktop. Visual settings could be easily customised. The softwares included with openSUSE by default was already sufficient for normal use. However, after firing up Apper, i was surprised by the numerous number of application choices. KDE can be a good place for anyone who needs a tightly integrated, feature rich environment. KDE is very much extensible with all its plasmoids and application plugins and a user can integrate his desktop with identica, twitter, facebook etc and other zillions of internet services. Localisation and Input methods were pretty annoying for me and I had to manually install IBus to solve it.

GNOME Desktop Environment

The GNOME desktop environment gave me a very simplistic feel. The interface was more application-oriented than task-oriented and it was not very easy multi-tasking. There are not many visual effects and the interface can only be minimally customised. I am sure that the GNOME desktop environment would definitely be appealing to users who seek simplicity. First time GNOME shell users may find the interface a little hard to use, but after getting used to the interface, it’s not hard at all. Apart from that, Gnome shell does not seem to be suited for netbooks as many of the windows sizes are quite and can hardly be scaled. Applications and online services integration with the desktop was not too bad, but I feel that i could have been better integrated with the panel. However, accessibility settings could be accessed directly from the top panel. I could not find any software centre, which is really a pity as openSUSE has a wide range of application choices. Setting localisation and input methods was as equally annoying as my experience with KDE. One thing I liked a lot was Gnome extensions, which brought out the real customisability power in gnome, it made minor but powerful tweaks to the interface. In all, I feel that Gnome’s simple interface coupled up with gnome extensions is really awesome and even advanced users would like it.

Snapper

Snapper is really one useful piece of software. Even though there were a few hiccups when using snapper, but it was relatively easy to use from both the GUI as well as the command line. It supports quite a number of features like comparing two snapshot,s mounting snapshots, etc… Problems that users face like accidentally deleting files, system crashing, etc… all can be solved by using snapper. Snapper is definitely a software that every openSUSE user should make use of and try.

Systemd



openSUSE introduced systemd as the new framework for booting up and managing your services. After reading up on it, I realised how good it is. At startup, only those important services like security would be started. Other services would only be started on demand later on is needed. This makes bootup much faster. Systemd has quite a bit of flexibility that system administrators can make use of like socket and dbus-activation. Systemd also make the operating system more stable by closely monitoring and controlling services. For example, if any important service is ended, systemd would try to re start is. The old system would just let it go undetected. The new “.service” files also provides more functionality and flexibility as compared to the old shell scripts. Even though developers are encouraged to port init scipts to systemd, but systemd is also backward compatible with the old init scripts. openSUSE users also have the option to fallback to the old SystemV init daemon if they prefer it. Even though it is more work to port the old init scripts to Sytemd, but the power brought upon by systemd is really something that should not be missed.

YaST

I could find almost every type of configuration available. From the boot loader to network services, all could be found in the YaST control panel. Configuring settings was not very hard either. It’s really a very valuable resource for both normal users and system administrators.

webYaST


webYaST was awesome. I was able to access almost all of the configurations available for my machine through my browser. I could even check out on system resoruces, or applying gupdates. I’m sure that system administrators would love this feature.

OwnCloud

OwnCloud was a really good feature. It’s the first time I see a tool that can help me set up a cloud service on a webserver of my choice. Configuring it with miralll was not hard at all. Not only does OwnCloud improve privacy, it also contains many useful features like calendar, contacts, etc…

systemd – boot faster and cleaner with openSUSE 12.1

December 22nd, 2011 by

openSUSE 12.1 features systemd as a replacement for the System V init daemon. systemd provides a new and improved way of booting up your system and managing services. It comes with many new features like socket and dbus-activation, use of cgroups (control groups) and aggressive parallelization capabilities which leads to a faster boot-up of the system. Systemd also introduces a number of new features and tools for sysadmins. This article will explain what systemd does, how it does it and how to take advantage of the new possibilities it offers.
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openSUSE participates in Google Code-in

November 18th, 2011 by

Introducing people to the world of free and open source software (FOSS) has always been a priority for the openSUSE project. We’re not only doing so for new users with our distribution (did you get 12.1 yet?) or for new contributors with our project, we also frequently participate in programs like Googles Summer of Code or Code in. Those programs have introduced a lot of new contributors to both openSUSE and the FOSS community. So with pride we announce that, after a successful participation in Google Summer of Code this year, openSUSE will also participate in Google Code-in.
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Help out with testing at openSUSE

October 25th, 2011 by

One of the most important activities during software development is testing. In FOSS community, software often gets tested by the developers themselves, other developers and volunteers. During the openSUSE 12.1 development process it has been important to keep Factory working properly. Testing this is however a rather boring, repetitive task: the tester has to boot up a Factory ISO as often as possible and check if the basic applications start up and work. We don’t like boring tasks so the openSUSE Project has been using the automated testing framework openQA to test this release daily!

This article explains how openQA works and how you can help keep Factory working! We’ll also give some links to more information about testing to help new testers learn the trade but also give experienced testers some new tips and insights!

Development Cycle

Testing is generally done on the latest development release, with additional testing sometimes done using updates from Factory to verify bug fixes. Everything in Factory is passed through our automated test framework openQA. You can read more about openQA an the announcement openSUSE News. openQA is a great test suite and is capable of producing videos of the whole process and also screenshots. This greatly reduces the overhead for the testers. An overview of the test results can be found here.

Using openQA

Reporting Bugs

openQA can be used both for bug reporting and bug triaging. To find and report bugs using openQA just visit the openQA test result page, browse through the web interface and look for failed tests. Click on the corresponding tests, to view the results. If your copy of openSUSE is different from the version that has been tested at openqa but you want to/need to do additional testing, fire up your vm and install the version openQA used (or a newer one). You can check for bugs in the tests that have not been autochecked and also look for hardware related (note that in this case you will need to install it on your system instead of a vm) and other possible bugs that openQA might have missed. If you find a bug, report the bug to our testing team or file the bug yourself. Be sure to make good use of the openSUSE Testing documentation at the Testing portal, the Bug report how-to and read the Bug Reporting F.A.Q!

Triaging Bugs

Bernhard, the author of openQA has come out with a nice web interface for bug triagers to make them easier to browse through bugs. The web interface provides with a list of some random bugs. If you are interested ino a scpecific component, then you can use the search bar and look for them. Once you have a random list of bugs that may interest you, you mark a bug as taken. This will reserve the bug. Now fix the bug and update the bugzilla accordingly to get more info or mark it as fixed. While the real triaging is still left for the developers to do, the web interface makes it easierfor them to find bugs..

Adding tests to openQA

An important part of openQA are of course the tests themselves. The more tests are written the more openQA can cover. Tweaking preexisting tests or creating new tests is not very difficult. You can get the sources of openQa from gitorious. You will need it to have the examples and tools needed to build new test cases. Once you have the source, you can find the test modules spread across os-autoinst directory. Every test module has two parts, one which contains the general flow of sendkey events to test an application or feature, the second one being a set of md5 hash sums to determine the validity of test results. os-autoinst/bmqemu.pm can act as a reference for the functions that can be used in our test modules. The commands can be used to write the desired test module. To verify if the test results are valid or not, a set of md5 hash sums of screenshots of the desired results is checked. To calculate these hashsums you can use tools/inststagedetect2.pl. The following article provides an indepth howto on writing a test module in openQA.

Getting Started

If you need help/support in testing, if you have topics to discuss or if you are just interested in this area, join the opensuse-testing@opensuse.org mailing list (see openSUSE:Mailing lists page how to subscribe). Have a look at the Testing portal or directly contact our core testing team

Happy testing!

Have a computer? Then you can participate in the HCL Week!

July 8th, 2011 by

Aloha openSUSE Users!
Testing-Group-Logo
Now is an excellent time to help openSUSE! If you have openSUSE running on your system, all you have to do is add your hardware to the openSUSE Hardware compatibility List. Add your pheriphials like printers, scanners and webcams. Or add internal stuff like graphics and sound cards, mother boards, wifi cards and every thing else from your netbooks, notebooks, desktops and workstations!
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openSUSE Ambassadors are rocking all over the world

May 6th, 2011 by

A big kudos to all our ambassadors who are working very hard to let the world know about openSUSE! They have been organizing events, speaking to people and writing about the awesomeness of openSUSE Project. Below are a few events that were openSUSE boosted in the last few days by our ambassadors. We probably still missed some as it can be hard to track everything that’s going on!

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GNOME 3.0 arrives for openSUSE 11.4

April 23rd, 2011 by

The wait is finally over and the much anticipated release of GNOME 3 on openSUSE’s latest distro release, 11.4 is ready for download at a desktop near you.  Frederic Crozat, a member of the openSUSE GNOME Team, has been working tirelessly, burning the midnight oil getting GNOME3 stable enough for you all to use.  See his blog for the full details. Our friends from GNOME Foundation also welcomed GNOME 3 for openSUSE with a welcome tweet.
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A year of Collaboration ahead

March 30th, 2011 by


The openSUSE Project considers collaboration an important value for a Free Software community. After our successful openSUSE conference which had a strong focus on collaboration, several cool things have started. Now it is time for openSUSE bring collaboration to the Google Summer of Code and we invite students to join us in making Free Software stronger through working with others! For those who don’t know yet, Google Summer of Code is a project by Google to let students spend their summer time on coding instead of a waiting tables. (more…)