openSUSE 11.2 coming
The long wait is almost over. 11 long months have passed in the unusually long release cycle since openSUSE 11.1, and tomorrow 11.2 will be released. The repositories are already available so I updated my RC2 installation to the gold master yesterday. Naturally 11.2 comes with all the latest and greatest from upstream, as well as a bunch of new SUSE features, here are some of the highlights.
- Live CD ISOs are now hybrid ISOs – simply ‘dd’ it to a USB stick to create a live USB.
- Online dist upgrade (‘zypper dup’) has been available since 11.0 but is now officially supported.
- Ext4 is now the default file system.
- A -desktop kernel flavour is provided configured specifically for desktop use.
- Zypp now uses Aria2c for download management and is supposed to cache mirror URLs so it should work even when the download.opensuse.org redirector is down.
- There’s no xorg.conf anymore. X is configured by HAL/autodetection instead of SaX2. I guess this should be considered an improvement, but it’s also likely to cause problems for some.
- For once reason has prevailed over politricks and KDE is again the default desktop on the DVD after some years of openSUSE having no default desktop.
- Firefox is now the default browser in KDE, but don’t despair, SUSE employee Lubos Lunak has performed miracles to make it use the KDE file dialog, be aware of KDE applications/file associations and integrate well in other ways.
- OpenOffice.og comes with KDE 4 integration (icons, file dialog, general look and feel)
- Much of the artwork has been done by Pinheiro to create a special openSUSE look and feel, while preserving the look and feel of upstream vanilla KDE
- YaST control center has finally been ported to Qt4
- All default apps are now native KDE 4 – including Kaffeine, Konversation, K3b and KNetworkManager – of which SUSE employee Will Stephenson has been the primary developer.
- Kopete comes with support for Facebook chat, written by SUSE employee Duncan Mac-Vicar.
- PulseAudio doesn’t run by default and Phonon Xine backend is installed by default.
- KDE 3 is finally no longer supported (but is still available on the OBS).
Of course many things have happened on the project level in the past 11 months too. Some of the highlights are:
- Factory is now open for everyone
- Presumably openSUSE should follow a fixed 8 month release schedule from now on (November -> July -> March -> November and so forth)
- The openSUSE Boosters team has been created.
- openSUSE releases now only receive security updates for 18 months (used to be 24)
- Susestudio.com has come into existence providing a webinterface for creating your own custom images – and even testing the image before downloading it – using some kvm and vnc magic.
All distro releases have bugs – including openSUSE, many of which will of course be fixed via online updates in the coming weeks and months. However so far I’m not aware of any major bugs that will cause a lot of grief to legions of people.
I predict that the thing that will cause the most people to say “wtf!?!” in 11.2 is actually intended behaviour. YaST/zypper will not show nor perform updates that involve “vendor changes” (i.e. updating an official package to a newer version of the same software from packman) unless the user explicitly does some extra work.
You roughly have these coping strategies:
- Don’t worry about it and stick with the old versions included in the distro no matter how many 3rd party repositories you add.
- Manually go to the Repositories tab or the Versions tab in YaST Software Management, and manually select the updates you want – or manually specify the versions you want on the command line with zypper (note, you only have to do the extra work to change vendor once per package).
- Set AllowVendorChange = true in /etc/zypp/zypp.conf – this way YaST/zypper will update everything to whatever has the highest version number – and let you ping-pong back and forth between package vendors, if that’s what you want.
In the future the tools are expected to be improved, so that the vendor stickyness becomes less annoying and obtrusive.