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Q&A: What it is like to be on the openSUSE Board

January 7th, 2020 by

You already know what a fantastic platform openSUSE is for doing just about anything with Linux. So what’s behind that easy-to-use and super powerful distribution that we know and love, and have come to rely on. In many minds there is a perception that its simply SUSE with the proprietary code stripped out. It’s true that a lot of the development work does flow down from SUSE but there is also an active community of dedicated volunteers who drive and make the project work, adding the goodies we have come to take for granted for the myriad of uses we have come to rely on it for.

It’s election time at openSUSE and the election board asked an existing board member Gertjan who has agreed to step up again and run for re-election of what it is like to be on the board. Below is a transcript of an offline interview between fellow election committee member Edwin and Gertjan highlighting what it’s like to be on the board of openSUSE.

Edwin: Would you like to tell us about your daily schedule and how does being an openSUSE Board member impacts on that?

Gertjan: To be fair, my daily schedule varies a lot, depending on what is on my table. Most of the time this leaves me with enough spare time to do board related things. But before I was on board, I spent that time in openSUSE too, i.e. forums, IRC etc., so the main impact on my daily schedule were the bi-weekly video conference calls. For the rest I just spread the spare time a bit differently. It does take a couple of hours though, on an average week.

Edwin: Do you still remember what motivated you to step up for Board candidacy the first time? And then why a second time?

Gertjan: O, yes, I do. I was asked by Richard whether I had ever considered running for board. My reply was “Hey, you know me, I’m the one that considers others to run”… Followed by a small discussion, a night of sleep, some others asking me to step up as a candidate. All in all, I felt I could not ignore all that, and at least see if the community would have me on board. So basically the community motivated me, and felt I had to go for it. The second time was not much different. And, in both cases, a huge motivation was the love I feel for the project and the people in its community.

Edwin: What was your first task as a Board member?

Gertjan: To read all the docs. Like many people, I had to find out that my impression of what the board does wasn’t accurate.

Edwin: What’s your best memory serving on the openSUSE Board?

Gertjan: Lots of good memories, but to summarize: The learning experience re. all the aspects of the openSUSE Project, the relationship with SUSE.

Edwin: Any negative incident that you recall and would like to share?

Gertjan: I do recall some, yeah. Most of them with the PRIVATE stamp all over them, but the thing I disliked most was me crossing ( a.o. my own ) lines on a couple of occasions.

Edwin: Could you tell us what is the biggest transformation / change in the openSUSE community that you witnessed after becoming Board member?

Gertjan: For me that would be the current process of getting some form of openSUSE Foundation on its feet.

Edwin: How is life as an openSUSE Board member?

Gertjan: Not too bad. I loved the biweekly video meetings, the F2F meetings, working together with people passionate about the project and the community.

Edwin: Any message or suggestion for members unsure about running for Board?

Gertjan: Don’t doubt, do it. It’s fun. And, the project needs you !!!

Edwin: Is there anybody you would like to nominate?

Gertjan: O, yes !!! Stasiek Michalski, a.k.a. hellcp, a.ka. LCP

Edwin: Would you still be involved in the project as your second and last term ends?

Gertjan: No doubt. I’m still a forums admin / mod, mod on Discord, Matrix, Facebook, so I’ll be around on those a bit more after my term ends. And who knows, I might go for another term next year.

So you can see there is no magic to being a board member the main criteria is to have a love for the project and a desire to move it forward. You don’t have to be a geek or niche expert, the project and the board needs all types of skill-sets so if you feel you have some free time and something to contribute jump in and put in your nomination, as Gertjan says “Don’t doubt, do it. It’s fun. And, the project needs you !!!”

This article was revised at 10:35 on Jan. 7, 2020.

Tumbleweed Gets New grep, Linux Kernel 4.20

January 25th, 2019 by

A total of two snapshots have arrived in openSUSE Tumbleweed since last week’s article about the rolling release.

The two snapshots delivered new versions of grep, VLC, KDE Applications and Frameworks, Thunderbird, wireshark and more.

The latest snapshot, 20190121, provided updates of KDE Applications 18.12.1 and Frameworks 5.54.0. Applications 18.12.1 offers about 20 bug fixes. Sorting columns in the JuK music player has been fixed, Akregator now works with WebEngine from Qt 5.11 or newer and Konsole once again correctly renders box-drawing characters. Breeze Icons added YaST and new preference icons with the update to Frameworks 5.54.0, which also fixed a bug in KIO that made the open url in the tab feature a bit more discoverable. Kwayland also fixed XDGForeign Client header installs. Support for 12 bits decoding of AV1 was added with vlc 3.0.6. A minor update to GNU Compiler Collection 8 includes a backport of asm inline. The lightweight Integrated Development Environment geany 1.34.1 now automatically detects the GTK version to build against. A patch was made to the update of java-12-openjdk, which included a fix that introduces a diagnostic flag to abort Virtual Machines operating too long. A fix for Mariabackup that failed to copy encrypted InnoDB system tablespace of the log sequence numbers (LSN) was made with mariadb 10.2.21. Visual diff and merge tool meld 3.20.0 added an Enter as a Compare accelerator in folder comparisons. The update of mutt 1.11.2 fixed a compilation with the latest OpenSSL version along with various other bug fixes. Several rubygem packages were also updated in the snapshot. Two recent issues were fixed in the purple-facebook 0.9.6 package; one addressed a failed to get sync_sequence_id and the other was a failed to read fixed header. Samba 4.9.4 addressed two Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures(CVE)  including a fix of a CNAME loop prevention using counter regression.

The snapshot that started the week was 20190115 and it brought the 4.20.0 Linux Kernel and Mozilla Thunderbird 60.4.0, which added WebExtensions FileLink Application Programming Interface (API) to facilitate FileLink add-ons. More than 30 performance improvements were made with the update of grep 3.3, which now diagnoses stack overflow. The Advanced Linux Sound Architecture  package alsa  1.1.8 dropped some obsolete patches and added a Unified Change Management  (UCM) setting for Dell Edge IoT platforms. Parser generator bison updated to version 3.2.4. An update to GNOME’s personal information management application evolution 3.30.4 clamps GSettings values before restoring window size. A jump was make from libvirt-glib 1.0.0 to 2.0.0 and it modernize gobject macro usage. Among notable packages updated in the snapshot were gucharmap 11.0.3, mercurial 4.8.2, python-pyOpenSSL 18.0.0, sqlite3 3.26.0 and wireshark 2.6.6.

Snapshot 20190115 recorded an unstable rating of 61, according to the Tumbleweed snapshot reviewer. Snapshot 20190121 is trending at as moderately stable with a rating of 78.

Tumbleweed Starts Year with New Plasma, Applications, VIM, curl

January 18th, 2019 by

This new year has brought several updated packages to users of openSUSE’s rolling release Tumbleweed.

Three snapshots have been released in 2019 so far and among the packages updated in the snapshots are KDE’s Plasma, VIM, RE2, QEMU and curl.

The 20190112 snapshot brought a little more than a handful of packages. The new upstream Long-Term-Support version of nodejs10 10.15.0 addressed some timing vulnerabilities, updated a dependency with an upgrade to OpenSSL 1.1.0j and the versional also has a 40-seconds timeout that is now applied to servers receiving HTTP headers. The changelog listed several fixes for the highly configurable text editor with vim 8.1.0687, which should now be able to be built with Ruby 2.6.0 that was released at the end of December. Google’s re2 20190101 offered some performance tweaks and bug fixes. The fast real-time compression algorithm of zstd 1.3.8 has better decompression speed on large files. There was a change in the yast2-firewall package, which arrived in the the 20190110 snapshot, that allows new ‘forward_ports’, ‘rich_rules’ and ‘source_ports’ elements in zone entries with yast2-schema 4.1.0.

KDE’s Plasma 5.14.5 arrived in snapshot 20190110; the update fixed the max cache limit for Plasma addons and there were updates for Breeze GTK, Discover, KWin, Plasma Workspace, Powerdevil and more. The Intel tool that provides powersaving modes in userspace, kernel and hardware, powertop 2.10, enabled support for Intel GLK, which was formerly known as Gemini Lake, and support for Intel CNL-U/Y. The geolocations services package geoclue2 2.5.2 had a change that allow multiple clients on the same D-Bus connection and adds an application programming interface (API) for it, which was mainly done for the Flatpak location portal. The IRC client irssi 1.1.2 had multiple fixes and synced a new script. GNOME’s jhbuild 3.28.0 enabled a build of libosinfo tests. Translations were update for Czech with libstorage-ng 4.1.75 through Weblate and several YaST packages were updated, including yast2 4.1.48 and yast2-multipath 4.1.1, which had a fix for the use of a random file name.

The first snapshot of the year was extremely huge. Snapshot 20190108 updated more than a hundred packages. KDE’s Application 18.12.0 were updated and it brought more than 140 bugs fixes for applications like Kontact Suite, Cantor, Dolphin, Gwenview, KmPlot, Okular, Spectacle, Umbrello and more. The update of curl 7.63.0 had a fix for IPv6 numeral address parser along with several other fixes and a support session resume with TLS 1.3 protocol via OpenSSL. Apparmor 2.13.2 fixed a syntax error in rc.apparmor.functions, which could cause policy load failures. The Linux Kernel 4.19.12 was in the first snapshot of the year and should move closer to the latest stable version in the coming weeks. Various fixes and compatibility tweaks were made with the update of libreoffice, which removed some patches. The compression format package brotli 1.0.7 now has faster decoding on ARM. The newest version of claws-mail 3.17.3, added support for TLS Server Name Indication (SNI), which enables the sending of a hostname, if available, to the server so that it can select the appropriate certificate for a domain; this is useful for servers that host multiple domains on the same IP address. Other noteworthy updates were  Python-setuptools 40.6.3, qemu 3.1.0 and squid 4.5.

All snapshots have either logged or are treading as moderately stable with a rating of 83 or above, according to the Tumbleweed snapshot reviewer. There are more than 300 packages in staging that will likely be released in several snapshots over the coming weeks.