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OpenSUSE rev's license, build system
Dec. 18, 2008

The Novell-sponsored openSUSE Project announced the availability of version 11.1 of its open-source openSUSE Linux distribution. Version 11.1 offers a new license that eases redistribution, and it's the first version developed with the openSUSE Build Service, which improves collaboration and transparency among contributors, says openSUSE.

(Click for larger view of openSUSE's KDE desktop with special effects)

Version 11.1 builds on the June release of version 11.0 with more than 230 new features, says the project. Improvements have been made to YaST,, Liberation fonts, and openJDK, and the distribution's desktop environments have been updated to GNOME 2.24.1 and KDE 4.1.3, respectively.

Announced in July, the openSUSE Build Service 1.0 is billed as "collaboration system" that enables developers contributing to the project to work together on Linux packages or solution stacks. The service is said to package source code for several popular distributions, and cross-compile it for a variety of architectures. OpenSUSE Build Service incorporates build scripts aimed at building and packaging software in "clean and safe" chrooted build environments. It also enables "greater transparency in the development process and additional contributions from the community," says the project.

The new version also comes with a simpler license that eliminates the EULA agreement and removes software that "previously made it difficult to redistribute openSUSE," says the project. States the new license: "With the potential exception of certain firmware files, the license terms for the components permit you to copy, modify, and redistribute the component, in both source code and binary code forms."

GNOME desktop (left) and GNOME version of F-Spot, showing new zoom feature
(Click on either to enlarge)

GNOME 2.24.1 improvements include an enhanced Nautilus file manager, simplified managing and editing of photos with F-Spot (see image above), and enhanced synchronization with Banshee and mobile devices, says the project. The new GNOME also enhances the Pidgin IM client and the Totem movie player. The optional KDE 4.1.3 install is said to offer improvements to Plasma, the Dolphin file manager, the KDE-PIM suite, and Marble integration with OpenStreetMap. The "Kwin" desktop effects (see image at top) are now enabled by default.

Additional updates to openSUSE 11.1 are said to include:
  • New licensing and Build Service (see above)

  • Linux kernel, which adds support for a number of new devices, as well as improved video camera support

  • Nomad remote desktop

  • Improvements to the YaST sysadmin and installation suite, including an improved partitioner, new printer module, and new system security module

  • Latest versions of applications like Firefox 3.0.4, 3.0, GNOME 2.24.1, KDE 4.1.3 + KDE 3.5.10, and Mono 2.0.1

  • OpenOffice 3.0 Novell Edition, which includes a word processor, presentation creator, spreadsheet creator, and claimed read/write with all Microsoft Office files

  • Enhanced software management via updated Zypper/Libzypp utilities
OpenSUSE is a community-maintained version of SUSE. It was launched in August of 2005 by Novell, shortly after rival Red Hat launched Fedora. Both community distributions serve as a kind of staging and testing ground for new features. Whereas Red Hat controls Fedora, Novell last Fall allowed the OpenSUSE Project an independent board. Major features of openSUSE 11.0 included a redesigned installer and the Compiz Fusion 3D window manager.

Stated Andreas Jaeger, Platform director for openSUSE, "As the first release created entirely in the openSUSE Build Service, it is a major milestone for the project. We can now work transparently with all contributors to openSUSE, allowing us to achieve great things as we work on future releases of openSUSE."


OpenSUSE 11.1 is available for free download, here, and more information on the product may be found here. A retail box version is also available for $60 from Novell, here. The commercial release of openSUSE, includes 90 days of installation support, commercial applications not on the main DVD, and a printed manual for new Linux users.

-- Eric Brown

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