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openSUSE:Status quo strategy

tagline: From openSUSE


Status Quo Strategy Proposal
by J.Engelhardt. Parts included from M.Schlander's Poweruser proposal as we tried to consolidate the two proposals.

Statement

We deliver a well-balanced GNU/Linux platform for modern computers (workstation, laptop, netbook, server) that equally appeals to end users, power users, developers and server/network infrastructure administrators. It shall protrude professionally and let the user be productive.

Background

This strategy tries to quantify what we tried to do in the past — as it was not written down earlier.

So, this is what most users expect from openSUSE today, but does not give a vision for change looking forward.

In the context of other distributions, we differentiate ourselves from Ubuntu targeting the newbie and further differentiate from Fedora being experimental bleeding edge — instead we pick "the middle ground".

Key ideas

  • Creation of a general purpose distribution that
    • anyone can use without too much effort
    • is known for good quality (stable and usable but neither outdated nor bleeding edge)
    • has good and sane defaults so the user can do what s/he wants to do
    • has programs that work out of the box
    • focused on modern hardware and their use cases (workstations, laptops, netbooks and servers)
    • is targeted towards end users, but is reasonably equally usable for other workloads
  • Critical analysis of hyped items before inclusion

Activities

We need to be excellent in the following

  • Do as we always did! That is,
    • good compromise between actuality and stability
    • agreeable release cycle of 8 months
    • support for the three most recent releases
  • Supporting our target customers
    • End users:
      • Delivering multiple desktops, focusing on both GNOME and KDE
      • Focus on providing tools for being productive and creative (IDEs, editors, authoring tools, graphics manipulation, office productivity, etc.)
    • Developers:
      • Development environments for especially C, C++, Perl, Python, Java, Ruby: IDEs, tools and support libraries
    • Power users and system administrators:
      • Providing admin tools that are powerful yet (reasonably) easy
      • Agreeable command line experience
      • Virtualization technique, e.g. KVM, Xen
      • Standard networking services
  • Continue the naturally growth of openSUSE:Factory by incorporating contributors' submissions.

We will try to do the following effectively

  • Innovate and keep up with latest upstream developments.
  • Include a more minimalistic desktop environment.
  • Provide a low entry barrier for potential contributors. With the openSUSE Build Service, it is easier to make contributions than any other Linux distribution to date.
  • Offer easy creation of specialized install media (appliances) through SUSE Studio.
  • Good presentation and marketing, in particular communicating our existing strengths and unique features (i.e. competitive advantages).
  • The usual niceties: speed, less bloat, possibility of minimality.

As project, we will not focus on the following

(fill in if exists)

L.Lunak's questionnaire

  • Who will do the work?
    • Novell employees have been regulars in participating, and are likely to continue so for the foreseeable future. People who have been using SUSE for long time already also take part.
    • Furthermore, we count, for example, many users (including less-experienced ones) in the Build Service who do some builds. As their experience grows, so may their attachment to openSUSE. Sense of achievement plays a role here.
    • and then of course there is Bugzilla, mailing lists and forums, but as has been expressed earlier, contribution here is harder to quantify, though not non-existent.
  • What will openSUSE actually gain from it?
    • We hope to reach out to users and provide a distribution (not a particular release of it) that they will use long-term.
    • Our unique features that sets us apart from other distributions — release schedule, focus, the strategy, etc. — provides for versatility in the Linux distro space.
  • What may openSUSE lose because of it?
    • TBD
  • What will openSUSE look like in 2 years?
    • openSUSE will be the preferred distro for moderately and highly technical users who want to get things done with Linux, as well as users who would like to make the jump there.
    • openSUSE will not be considered a competitor for Ubuntu in the newbie segment, and will not be considered a competitor for Fedora in terms of strong experimental exposure.
    • As an external effect, the SUSE Linux Enterprise business is rising because a lot more system administrators and developers have started using openSUSE at home, which lead to them buying enterprise subscriptions at their workplace.

Non-normative footnotes

  • Focus does not rule out the existence of other areas of interest.
  • Target list: power users, developers and server/network infrastructure administrators. It is really what every General Purpose Distribution tries to do.
  • 8 months: 6 months considered too fast. http://lists.opensuse.org/opensuse-project/2009-03/msg00029.html
  • (at least) "three most recent releases": Some people seem to be confused and count strangely. To aid them, as of August 01 2010, the three most recent ones are: 11.3, 11.2, 11.1.
  • Subsequently, the support timeframe is 8*3 = 24 months.
  • Critical Analysis: Has not always happened in the past (e.g. pulseaudio). Contrast with upstart which has received the desired analysis in FATE#305690.
  • Deciding which software versions to use <ref>http://lists.opensuse.org/opensuse-project/2010-08/msg00151.html</ref> is within the judgement of the maintainer(s) and ultimately the openSUSE:Factory gatekeepers.