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openSUSE 12.2 development cycle picks up steam

Jos ponders the openSUSE 12.2 releases and openSUSE upstream development for the next SUSE Linux Enterprise release…

The openSUSE 12.2 development cycle is gaining steam with the release of our first milestone and there’s quite a number of new things to look forward to. Of course, you can expect new versions of our major desktops like GNOME Shell and KDE’s Plasma Desktop, not to mention updates to popular applications like Firefox, LibreOffice and more besides.

There is also a good chance we’ll be able to bring you some cool new projects in the desktop space: Cinnamon, the GNOME Shell fork offering a more ‘traditional’ desktop; Razor-Qt, the Qt-based lightweight desktop; and we might be able to ship KDE’s Plasma Active shell for touch devices. You can also count on deeper ownCloud integration and other cloud technologies like OpenStack. That said, there’s also more edgy stuff going on – many Geekos are active in our brand new ARM port; and there is a team of people working on an overhaul of YaST!

If you know openSUSE, you know YaST, the powerful openSUSE system configuration tool. It is a unique tool in many ways, offering both GUI (Qt and GTK) and command line (ncurses) interfaces. But YaST is quite old – well over ten years in fact – and it’s really showing its age. It employs its own, unique language (YML, the YaST Markup Language), lacks a decent testing framework and is (open)SUSE specific in
many areas.

So, the idea has sprung up to write YaST++: a new configuration library, which can form a common layer for configuration tools in SUSE and hopefully beyond. It will be written in Ruby and offer bindings in other languages; it will be built using modern technologies like dbus, polkit and much more. It won’t replace the YaST GUI side just yet as it’s meant to be a new back-end. Not just for YaST but also for other tools like WebYaST and SUSE Studio as well as things beyond the world of Geeko.

YaST is a crucial part of openSUSE and this will bring new life into the project. But there is a lot more coming for the next openSUSE release. The lower stack of openSUSE (kernel, BTRFS, systemd and other entrails of a Linux system) will most likely see major work; this is because SUSE is gearing up for the next SUSE Linux Enterprise release! While the release itself is still two years away, the features targeted for it have to be developed right now. SUSE does this in the open, as part of openSUSE and other projects that ’upstream’ to SLE. Over the coming weeks and months it will become clear what these engineers will be working on and it promises to be very interesting. This will surely be the most exciting time I’ve seen at my job as community manager, and I look forward to it!