We got your OpenSUSE right here, Ken.
The trouble is that (so far) it's opening to big yawns.
"Looking over several web sites I see no mention of it and had it happened I would have thought it would have been big news," Ken writes.
In fact, the programming assets put forward by Novell in OpenSUSE seem to stack up well against those put up by arch-rival Red Hat's Fedora project. Yet the Fedora community seems huge, compared to that run by Novell.
What gives? I think many of the same forces you find in commercial software exist in open source as well. Me-too doesn't get the job done. If you want to make a big spash you really need to be better, or at least different. And given the fact that it's a community that drives better in the case of open source, first-mover advantage may actually be more important here than in the commercial world.
The lesson for Novell and others seems obvious. For your open source project to be successful, it really needs to be different.