Has the Novell Deal Hampered openSUSE?
Whether it was the uncertainty of openSUSE's future or in spite of it, there seems to have been a fire lit under openSUSE lately. On several fronts, the
often once controversial project has kicked into high gear.
On the Web side of development support openFATE, a feature tracking system, has seen a major update. The interface was recently revamped for easier navigation and the back-end was souped-up for faster operation. New, done, and rejected features are easier to find, vote for, and comment on. Statistics are compiled together for a quick glance. Users can sign up and participate. All together, it's a nice step giving a more transparent process for users and a powerful tool for planners and developers.
Soon after the reworked openFATE was announced, a rolling release option was introduced by Greg Kroah-Hartman, a kernel developer employed by Novell. This was something he'd been wanting to do for a while, and he said the time was right to start it now. Work will start soon on the 11.3 branch and users with 11.3 or new 11.4 installs should be able to start rolling on the openSUSE river pretty soon, should they choose to do so. This will be accomplished through a separate repository, so users can still enjoy the traditional periodic install or upgrade with important and security fixes as usual if they wish.
The openSUSE Board elections were announced on December 1. The openSUSE board consists of five members to oversee the project. The board helps resolve conflicts, communicate with Novell, facilitate communication with the community, and assist with the decision making processes. There are two seats to fill and only one can be a Novell employee. The election is taking place from January 12 to January 26. Results will be announced January 26. Only openSUSE members are eligible to vote, but becoming a member isn't difficult. To become a member you will have to have contributed to openSUSE in some manner. All this is just another way one can be involved in the direction of openSUSE.
Perhaps a little less sexy for regular users is the upcoming Marketing Collaboration Days. Running from December 6 through December 21 the marketing team will focus on possible ways to promote openSUSE around the world. On December 6 they will work on the materials for the openSUSE Ambassadors. This includes materials for convention booths and presentations, talking points, and skill development. General marketing materials and availability will be reviewed on December 13. Then on December 21 the discussion will focus more on traditional press release packages and publicizing on social media.
The crowning jewel of the all the recent news was the release of the latest 11.4 developmental milestone. This release includes the much touted Galbraith Latency patch that is believed to increase desktop performance. They are also including the latest desktop environments: KDE 4.6 beta 1 and GNOME 2.32.2. GNOME 3.0 won't be released in time for 11.4. OpenOffice.org has been removed in favor of LibreOffice. Midori Web browser, Rosegarden music composer/editor, and Gnash Flash viewer have been added. Final release is planned for March 2011.
So, add all this up and you'll see that openSUSE isn't going away - far from it. The Novell deal hasn't hampered their fun. They are moving forward full steam ahead.