Tuesday, February 27, 2007

FOSDEM is over

Saturday afternoon the openSUSE conference program started with Michael and Martin giving an overview of openSUSE and what has happened during the last year. The conferencing sessions were recorded on video and will be made available from the openSUSE wiki soon.

My talk on openSUSE 10.3 went well, even my mini-demo (mounting an encryped USB stick) worked. Afterwards I discussed with some what can be done better in our distribution - and then talked with Jordi about instlux which helps installing Linux from a Windows system. This is something I'd like to see in 10.3 as well, so we discussed how to integrate it.

It was interesting to hear about our speakers on their presentations: Daniel had planned to show syncing with four mobile devices and noticed on saturday evening that the code for one was completely broken. His team mates had to persuade him to drink some more beer instead of fixing the code directly - and how only three devices (which worked out fine). Pavel tricked Stefan when he pressed the "Backspace" key on the laptop during the suspend demo - which Stefan did not notice and therefore thought something was broken ("Backspace" interrupts the suspend).

We had a table to sit and hack - and two monitors showing off openSUSE 10.2. It was interesting to see how many people asked for the new KDE menu and played around with XGL and compiz.

As give-aways, we had produced our special dual-purpose DVDs that combine a live image (the LiveCD) together with an installation image. Unfortunately the cover did not mention at all that the contents is an openSUSE 10.2 distribution - and even worse it had some text that forbid "noncommercial use". That text is obviously wrong, everybody can use the media for whatever purpose s/he likes. The DVDs just arrived one day before FOSDEM, so there was no chance to reprint the covers in time.

Saturday evening we went out to the city centre, had dinner at an Indian place and then walked around to find a place to drink some beer. We passed the small street on the picture which has only restaurants - and each had chairs on the street. We finally - beeing Saturday evening, it was difficult to find anything - sat outside of a bar on the street. The place had some outdoor gas heating so that it was warm enough.

Sunday morning the first team had planned to be at 9am at FOSDEM - but our two cars were in a parking garage that only opened at 10am. So they had to go bus.

I listened in the morning to Max Spevack's talk about Fedora's 2007 plans. It was interesting that he talked also about some of the things I talked about for openSUSE 10.3 like allowing users to build their distribution and how to open development so that external contributors can contribute. At the end I was the only one saying "No" when he asked whether everybody uses Fedora ;-). Later Max and some other Fedora folks and a few of us openSUSE folks stand - there was no place to sit - together and had a friendly and open chat about the challenges we face as community projects that ends in enterprise releases backed by a company sponsor (see also Max's Blog). The two main topics we discussed were Fedora's recently announced hardware database and packaging guidelines. We had planned for long time to do a hardware database ourselves but not yet started the effort and had also - some Fedora guys even announced the database on the openSUSE mailing list - making this a cross-platform effort when we launch. Ok, so instead of launching one ourselves we decided to see whether we can work together to have one community database that might have information about just the official Linux kernel as well as the kernels in different distributions (and besides the kernel also about other hardware). For packaging guidelines we discussed - since both are distributions are RPM based - whether it's possible that developers could use the same spec file and have it adhere to both the Fedora and openSUSE standards. This could best be done by defining common packaging guidelines. For both topics we'll continue the discussion now via email .

Afterwards I went to the GPG keysining party and later listened to the Gentoo community talk. It was interesting to see some of the things that Gentoo does but others was not really understandable for me as outsider but showed some of the social aspects of the Gentoo community.

Back at the openSUSE booth I talked with different users and glanced into our presentation. I think Miguel won the prize for the largest audience with his Mono workshop.

In the evening it was time for flying back to Germany - a long weekend that I really liked with lots of good discussions.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Travelling to Brussels for FOSDEM

We arrived in Brussels for FOSDEM and if we would have been just 5 minutes earlier at the airport, we would have left it 90 minutes earlier: Just after we got our luggage the airport was closed because of a bomb alarm. And they closed the exit we just wanted to get through :-(. The evacuation plan consisted of sending everybody to terminal A, just in front of the security check-in. So, instead of beeing really evacuated we were in some "safe" distance under earth and waited for what would happen next. The information policy was non-existant, they did two announcements in flamish over the speakers but nobody understood them - until in the end when everything was open again the announcement came additionally in English.

At the security check-in everybody made himself comfortable, some took boxes - those used for the security check-in - to sit on, and then waited. Most of of our group were using their laptops to hacking, watching some films, preparing their talks...

Finally we arrived at our hotel and I went with a group to get a small dinner.

Monday, February 19, 2007


Next weekend one of the largest Free and Open Source events in Europe - the FOSDEM - takes place in Brussels. The openSUSE team will participate and has its own development room with two days of talks. I'm going to speak about openSUSE 10.3, our next distribution release.

Feel free to come to the talks or our boot and talk with us about the openSUSE project and how to get involved!

openSUSE 10.3 Alpha1

Last week I released openSUSE 10.3 Alpha1 and installed it on my laptop as well. There are not many user visible changes in the system, in most cases it looks like 10.2. But under the hood a number of changes have been done that will everybody:

  • The GNOME packages are now installed to /usr and not to /opt/gnome anymore - and therefore in the standard place. This allows us to remove a couple of patches and hacks.
  • KDE was updated to KDE 3.5.6.
  • Linux Kernel updated to 2.6.20 with new hardware support and drivers. With Alpha1, there's no Xen support enabled but this should be fixed in the next Alpha.
  • A lot of people have asked for a real minimal text installation - and we have changed the patterns to allow this.
  • OpenOffice.org has been updated to version 2.1.
  • The whole distribution is build now with -fstack-protector to better guard against some buffer overflows.
  • Usage of LUKS by default for crypto partitions in YaST. Both GNOME and KDE handle removable LUKS media now (see the screenshot below).

As usual, all bugs should get reported in our bugzilla as explained in http://bugs.opensuse.org, discussion is most appropriate on the opensuse-factory@opensuse.org mailing list.

To download media there are links at http://en.opensuse.org/Development_Version#Downloads

The next planned release is Alpha2 in four weeks (March 15th).