Mailinglist Archive: opensuse (2831 mails)

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[opensuse] The state of openSUSE
  • From: B.Weber@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Thu, 20 Jul 2006 07:32:53 +0100 (BST)
  • Message-id: <11660.>
Greetings all,

I would like to share some of the concerns I have about the state of SUSE
Linux / The openSUSE project. I hope this does not come across as a rant
as it is not intended as such, but to point out issues in the hope that
something may be done about them.

The perceived problem : Declining product quality

Obviously there is the unfortunate situation of 10.1 where critical flaws
were allowed to remain in the final product, making it in my opinion
unsuitable for use by people who don't know what they're doing, probably
the first version of suse for a very long time for which this applies. I
have not heard anything about what steps are being taken to ensure that
this will not happen again, which has perhaps lead to the feeling amongst
some that this is the sign of things to come.

In SUSE versions in the past what has set it apart from certain other
distributions is that it was a coherent product, it was an OS, not just a
collection of certain package versions. From 10.0 we no longer have a
default desktop environment. This is not so much a problem in and of
itself, what does seem to be a problem is the decreasing amount of
integration of either popular DE with the rest of the system.

In the past 3 or 4 years what has really improved in terms of the value
added by SUSE? Every 6 months we get a new set of packages with exactly
the same suse additions. Very little has really changed since the 7.x
days compared to prior to that point.

Possible causes:

1: Lack of vision / communication

What causes the above observations? Is there really no vision of where
SUSE Linux / openSUSE should be in 2-3 years time. What tangible
improvements will be achieved in that time? If there is no such vision it
would explain the apparent degeneration and plodding progress towards
nothing in particular with just new versions being packaged and bugs
being fixed. If there is such a vision, why has it not been communicated
to the community? It would go a long way towards elevating perhaps
unfounded fears about what the situation will be in the future. And
without such communication of what needs to be achieved in the long term,
how can people contribute towards achieving it.

2: Difficulty of community involvement

- Communication (Lack of)
Without communication of what the long term goals are, people generally
have no idea of what they can be working on to help. The google summer
of code project suggestions were good, but there is no reason these sort
of things should be restricted to google summer of code. Suggestions of
projects that could be taken on by community members would be helpful.

- Documentation (Lack of)
It is difficult for people to work on things useful for SUSE if SUSE
specific things are undocumented. Not everyone has time to read reams of
code to determine how to use something. An example: libzypp - wonderful
(apparently) new library for package management related stuff. Is there
any api documentation beyond the automatically generated docs in the
-devel package? No. Is there any documentation about what it actually
does? No. Is there any documentation for packagers etc wishing to make
use of new features like add on products? No.

If any such documentation exists internally why is it not shared?


- Communicate the long term strategies to the community. If they really do
not exist then leverage the community in deciding upon some.

- Share internal documentation. if it really does not exist then invest in
producing some. Otherwise it does not matter how wonderful technology is,
it will not be used.

- Provide suggestions for what people can actually usefully do.


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