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How developers see openSUSE

February 19th, 2009 by

You probably know that a lot of openSUSE developers are sitting in the SUSE office in Prague, Czech Republic. They are also openSUSE users.

The whole story started by a flame on a mailing list why some of us are not happy with the current state of openSUSE. It turned out there is a lot of different issues. So, we’ve met on a raining winter Friday 3 weeks ago to collect those issues as well as things that people consider to be good about openSUSE.

The result of the hours-long discussion is a list of positive and negative things about openSUSE, very subjective view of the group of developers in Prague. Go, look at the list. There is a lot of problems that I personally see lurking in our community, spelled out loud. The range is wide, from basic community issues to very technical problems that are basically missing features in the distribution.

So, we have collected the feedback. But the question is, what to do with it?

Firstly, I believe the lists are great food for thought. You might not agree with everything, but still, there is some truth in it. At least, those are problems that people consider important enough to try to solve them – encouraging.

Secondly, consider this blog as call for contribution. If you believe some of the areas are really worth improving, get in touch with people listed on the wiki, improve the description  in the wiki, propose solutions. One restriction though – please, do not add additional items to the page. We want to keep the ideas where they belong – features eventually to end up in openFate, project-related problems on the mailing lists, …Also, this is not a general list of issues the openSUSE project needs to address. As I’ve written above – the page is a subjective view of a group of people. If you think we need a more general approach, please, bring the idea on openSUSE mailing lists.

Looking forward to your feedback!

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10 Responses to “How developers see openSUSE”

  1. Hubert Müller

    I take the opportunity to comment this blog.
    My background:I operate OpenSuse and Windows XP on one machine (dual boot system). Normally I would prefer to use OpenSuse because of its stability, the costs and of course safety reasons.But as a non PC professional I often hit my limits. F.e. the (may be) simple activation of a Fritz WLAN stick. Therefore, if I compare both systems, I would be in trouble if I would not have running Windows as default in the background. My intention would be to simplify the operability of OpenSuse in such a way that most of the applications available on the market can easily be implemented.This is definetly a big advantage of Microsoft.
    I am open to discuss this subject in more detail

  2. Anonymous

    I totally agree with:
    Lack of polish, focus on details
    No answer to ‘restricted driver applet’ from Ubuntu
    X drivers are flaky, not ready in time for release (ATI & nVidia)
    NetworkManager seen as problematic
    Multimedia support is lacking
    No configuration and package management rollback

  3. John

    I think it is easy for people close to something to see the faults and not realise that, in practice, these may cause very few problems at all to many users. I’ve been using SuSE and openSUSE for nearly four years now and I have encountered very few situations where I could not do what I wanted with openSUSE. Two years ago I largely stopped using Windows on my dual boot setup and I have just bought a new computer (because of a mechanical fault on my old one) and installed just openSUSE. I have had some problems with KDE4 but these have not affected my overall productivity significantly.

    I have seen consistent progress in all aspects of openSUSE since it was launched and, as a supporter of the continuous improvement approach, I recommend that you rank the things you want to change for 11.2 and change the most important ones; then with 11.3 rank what you want to improve that you didn’t think was important enough to get done by 11.2.

    As the quality guru W Edwards Deming said, if you try to get perfection, you will always fail; if you try to do better next time, you have a good chance of succeeding. So far openSUSE seems to me to have done that.

  4. Ralph Ulrich

    Heaving read http://en.opensuse.org/BrainStorming_Prague
    There is a big pile of sometimes conflicting aimes/problems: Making openSUSE even more easy for the beginner might conflict with aiming the hacker! And there are many different layers of problems in your brainstorming, that maybe:

    1. making openSUSE better as an OS (choice of applications,menus,install)
    2. making openSUSE more open as a community (changelogs,release goals – openfate)
    3. really big doubts of choices (zypper-rpm or apt-deb, yast-sysconfig and golden cage)
    4. technical features of the community wiki (more links, discussion-tabs, bugs)

    These I would like to discuss more seperately!

  5. Larry Finger

    As a user of SuSE since 6.4, there are some things that need to be changed by 11.2, and I didn’t see mention of them in the “Minuses” list.

    Nothing is worse for a new user to load openSUSE only to discover that the performance is worse than for Windows Vista!! On the Forums, this is a very common complaint. I wonder how many users give up in disgust, wipe out their Linux partitions, and never come back. Most of these problems are easy to solve by the following:

    (1) Make the default for IPV6 be OFF. Any user that needs it will be able to turn it on, but it won’t kill the DNS performance for the bulk of users.

    (2) Get beagle out of the standard installation. Anyone that really wants it can install it, just as I install the updatedb/locate utilities.

  6. Tristan

    I agree 100% with both the positives and negatives.

    If the openSUSE dev team fixes most of the negative…openSUSE would be an absolutely amazing distribution.

  7. Dich

    Here few issues I would vote for:

    -> Installation / Online update:
    1. often enough some applications are updated, and require an immediate restart. Examples: firefox, or kernel, in fact often it’s hard to shut the machine down if the kernel has been updated! I guess such cases should either issue a warning BEFORE proceeding with the installation, or do the update in a way that it replaces the actual files only upon reboot/restart.
    2. some applications just don’t need an update. there should be a mechanism of marking them and not have the updatemanager applet showing yellow/red all the time.
    3. download and update processes have to be parallelised (with some cache buffer maybe). (same true for all network-based installs, actually). makes no sense waiting for the installation of a large package when this time could be efficiently used for download of the next package.
    4. often the updatemanager applet claims there are no new updates available, while “zypper lu” shows a whole bunch of stuff. Shouldn’t these two be consistent and replacing each other ?
    5. stop issuing a warning when the network is not available to check for updates. everybody knows sometimes there is no network, no need to panic :)
    6. better dependency handling would be good, this probably relates more to repository managers – sometimes packages are published which depend on others that are unavailable.

    -> Hardware support:
    1. I think this is a shame that linux doesn’t have till now a:
    -> Stable
    -> Fast (means 3d accelerated)
    -> properly licensed
    video drivers! Drivers that one can and will include in every distro, and which would handle 80-90% of graphics cards (ATI/NVIDIA/Intel would be enough). There are things you want to work out of the box. And here it always happens that at least something is missing! It’s either 3d-acceleration, or sudden freezes, or multihead support, or powermanagement (suspend problems), or no comfortable configuration tools. Why would one use “amccle” with ATI cards and nvidiaconfig with the other ones? Why is there no generic, central tool that would do everything in a simple way. SaX does a relatively good job at the first install and autodetection, but you can’t change anything afterwards!
    2. Troubleshooting: in the past, with frozen X one could always use the Ctrl-F1 text console and check for things. Now seems that Xorg grabs the keyboard much harder and if it freezes than goodbye. Layered hardware handling is a safer option, e.g. the linux kernel is generally more stable than the X-subsystem, therefore the keyboard should better pass through the kernel to X, not vice-versa. Also the magic-sysrq keys don’t always work, which is another nuisance…
    3. Wireless causes problems much more often than it should. Could we (linuxland) finally get the hardware manufacturers to supply us with *working* drivers ? BTW, on this issue – I know linux suffers from its own diversity. There are so many distributions that supporting ALL of them would cause a lot of headache. In that sense the concept of mainstream could help maybe.

    -> Configuration tools:
    There’s one system and several desktop environments, each of them providing their own tools for configuring the system. This is a bad practice, let the DE take care of itself, and the system should have one unified configuration like Yast which would then work as expected! Now KDE3 allows to change the appearance of the login manager (kdm), but obviously the changes are not propagated to the final end. KDE4 does similar things, and Gnome doesn’t do any better. I guess all these functionality should be stripped off from the DE’s (who wants to configure Samba shares from KDE itself? and why?) and merged in Yast, which then should do the things properly, and can be used from any DE!

    I think a general development direction has to be set, except fixing-pushing selected packages or applications. That’s probably the strongest missing point. I agree in general the “pluses” are well-deserved, and I’m a SuSE user and promoter since 98. But things tend to get a bit more complicated with time, and simple solutions stop working, unless special care is taken.

    P.S. couldn’t skip a smile on the last “plus” – “Czekh translations are very good” :) This list was supposed to be subjective, but to that extent ? :) Anyway, congratulations to our Czekh friends, I hope all the other translations would be as good!
    Good luck SuSE!

    • Dich

      two minor additions:
      the “plus” suse studio is for limited test use only, and for quite a long time already, shouldn’t put it in the positives for end users! it’s made for teasing purposes only :)
      and the firewall – isn’t it paranoic to block listing the samba shares on LAN? outgoing connections are usually safe aren’t they ?