OpenSUSE: Where's the excitement?

OpenSUSE: Where's the excitement?

Summary: At LinuxWorld Conference & Expo last week, I went to Novell's press conference on OpenSUSE, and sat down with Novell's Director of Marketing for Linux, Greg Mancusi-Ungaro to talk about the project and how Novell plans to differentiate OpenSUSE from Fedora. As Dana points out, the project doesn't seem to be setting the world on fire with excitement.

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At LinuxWorld Conference & Expo last week, I went to Novell's press conference on OpenSUSE, and sat down with Novell's Director of Marketing for Linux, Greg Mancusi-Ungaro to talk about the project and how Novell plans to differentiate OpenSUSE from Fedora.

As Dana points out, the project doesn't seem to be setting the world on fire with excitement. My personal watermark for success is the Ubuntu project -- not in terms of the distribution, but in the way that it caught on. Remember that Ubuntu is a very young project and it's garnered enthusiasm from users and industry. In less than a year, Ubuntu has built a huge user base and attracted attention from OEMs looking for the right distro. (The next release should take this to the next level, since Breezy is supposed to include OEM tools that make it easy for OEMs to deploy Ubuntu.)

So why has Ubuntu caught on so quickly? Well, in part I think it's timing and luck (never underestimate the power of being in the right place at the right time...), but there are several other reasons as well -- one, it's easy to use. Novell has that covered nicely with OpenSUSE, so no problem there.

Also, Ubuntu was -- right off the bat -- easy for people to get involved with. Unfortunately, OpenSUSE doesn't quite have this covered. When talking to Novell at the press conference, and one-on-one with Mancusi-Ungaro, they do seem to understand the importance of granting developer access and have that in the roadmap -- but, at the moment, it's mostly a top-down model that doesn't really inspire participation.

Novell has plans to implement public respositories and put in place a way for outside developers to participate -- but until they do so, the people they need to make the project really successful are on the outside looking in. In all fairness, it's a bit harder for Novell to do this than it was for the Ubuntu project. Ubuntu was planned from the ground up to be a community project, SUSE started out much differently -- it will take Novell time to adapt those processes and tools so that the community can participate. As I understand it, they're not even using a standard revision control system, so it's not like they can throw open access to their internal CVS or Subversion repository, even if they wanted to do it immediately.


So, are people yawning? I can tell you from the discussions I had on the LWCE show floor that there isn't much excitement over OpenSUSE -- and I discussed with quite a few folks from the media, community projects and the corporate side as well. It's being discussed a great deal -- the only topic that I heard more about at LWCE was the patent problem -- but without much enthusiasm. Some users may be looking forward to getting SUSE for free, but that's about it. I hate to say that, because I think Novell wants to do "the right thing," by putting this project out there, and I hope that Novell will take note of the community's reaction, and step up efforts to make OpenSUSE more of a community project.

Topic: Enterprise Software

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3 comments
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  • Isn't OpenSuZY

    a tramp? :D

    But really, how about a BETTER NAME?
    Roger Ramjet
  • There are a couple...

    of things I would like to know how are going to be addressed the issues with non-free software (mp3, et al) or software that cannot be redistributed by third parties (AKA Java). These programs are (IMO) what adds much of the value that SuSE used to have, and Xandros or Linspire still have. That's the same thing that happened with Fedora. Because of the open nature of the project, and given the fact that people are looking to have these functionalities in their desktops, the distribution as such cannot provide them, so it goes to third party repositories to provide such programs or plugins to programs. Is Novell willing to allow third party projects to provide such tools? What alternatives to these problems does Novell propose?

    Even though many users could ditch out the use of mp3 altogether, they can't in practice due to the fact that they have a great many number of files in .mp3 rather than .ogg, even when .ogg offers superior quality and compression ratio, but almost every user has still some files in .mp3 format. And transcodign is not an option, since the files will lose quality. The same goes for other programs and functions, even when there are alternatives, just like what happens with the whole desktop paradigm with Windows, Mac and Linux.
    thetargos
  • Open Suse needs an UbuntuGuide or Fedora FAQ for it to take off.

    Open Suse needs an UbuntuGuide or Fedora FAQ for it to take off. www.ubuntuguide.org

    This document shows people with a bit of clue who are not computer experts how to get all their multimedia up and running including MP3's and other non-free formats. A person with the ability to read and follow the instructions in a cookbook can use it.

    One thing for North American readers to bear in mind. SUSE is big in Europe. If the SUSE community is not so visible on the net in the English language don't assume there is no community. SUSE has very active German language maillists, etc.

    Ubuntu's wiki is also something OpenSuse wants to emulate.
    felixdzerzhinsky