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openSUSE 15.2 – Leap

What is New

Several exciting Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning packages are added in Leap 15.2.

Tensorflow: A framework for deep learning that can be used by data scientists, provide numerical computations and data-flow graphs. Its flexible architecture enables users to deploy computations to one or more CPUs in a desktop, server, or mobile device without rewriting code.

PyTorch: Made for both server and compute resources, this machine learning library accelerates power users’ ability to prototype a project and move it to a production deployment.

ONNX: An open format built to represent machine learning models, provides interoperability in the AI tool space. It enables AI developers to use models with a variety of frameworks, tools, runtimes, and compilers.

Grafana and Prometheus are two new maintained packages that open up new possibilities for analytical experts. Grafana provides end users the ability to create interactive visual analytics. Feature-rich data-modeling packages: Graphite, Elastic and Prometheus give openSUSE users greater latitude to construct, compute and decipher data more intelligibly.

In general, software packages in the distribution grew by the hundreds. Data fusion, Machine Learning and AI aren't all that is new in openSUSE Leap 15.2; a Real-Time Kernel for managing the timing of microprocessors to ensure time-critical events are processed as efficiently as possible is available in this release.

Linux kernel

Leap 15.2 will use the 5.3.18 Linux Kernel. This is an update from the 4.12 Linux Kernel, which was in Leap 15.1. The kernel in Leap is the same kernel used in SUSE Linux Enterprise 15 Service Pack 2. This kernel version is maintained by SUSE. This Linux 5.3 kernel introduces support for AMD Navi GPUs, and new IPv4 addresses. RISC-V code improvements are made with this updated kernel and it's compatible with Intel Speed Select used in Intel Xeon servers.

systemd

systemd 234

This is the same version that was in Leap 15.0 and 15.1. The following info pertains to the 234 version:

Support for dynamically creating users for the lifetime of a service has been added. If DynamicUser=yes is specified, user and group IDs will be allocated from the range 61184..65519 for the lifetime of the service. They can be resolved using the new nss-systemd.so NSS module. The module must be enabled in /etc/nsswitch.conf. Services started in this way have PrivateTmp= and RemoveIPC= enabled, so that any resources allocated by the service will be cleaned up when the service exits. They also have ProtectHome=read-only and ProtectSystem=strict enabled, so they are not able to make any permanent modifications to the system.

MemoryLimit= and related unit settings now optionally take percentage specifications. The percentage is taken relative to the amount of physical memory in the system (or in case of containers, the assigned amount of memory). This allows scaling service resources neatly with the amount of RAM available on the system. Similarly, systemd-logind's RuntimeDirectorySize= option now also optionally takes percentage values.

In similar fashion TasksMax= takes percentage values now, too. The value is taken relative to the configured maximum number of processes on the system. The per-service task maximum has been changed to 15% using this functionality. (Effectively this is an increase of 512 → 4915 for service units, given the kernel's default pid_max setting.)

PHP 7

PHP7 is a server-side HTML embedded scripting language designed primarily for web development but also used as a general-purpose programming language. The 7.4.6 version was released with Leap 15.2. In this version, bug #79497 (stream_socket_client(), which throws an unknown error sometimes with <1s timeout) was fixed.

A comprehensive list of issues fixed in this PHP release is available at http://php.net/ChangeLog-7.php

Printing System

Leap 15.2 has same CUPS 2.2.7 that was in Leap 15.1. CUPS is a modular printing system which allows a computer to act as a print server. A computer running CUPS is a host that can accept print jobs from client computers, process them, and send them to the appropriate printer. CUPS consists of a print spooler and scheduler, a filter system that converts the print data to a format that the printer will understand, and a backend system that sends this data to the print device. CUPS uses the Internet Printing Protocol (IPP) as the basis for managing print jobs and queues. It also provides the traditional command line interfaces for the System V and Berkeley print systems, and provides support for the Berkeley print system's Line Printer Daemon protocol and limited support for the server message block (SMB) protocol. CUPS comes with a built-in web-based interface.

Desktop Environments

Xfce

The release of the Xfce desktop 4.14 is the new stable version that supersedes Xfce 4.12.

display-general.png

In 4.14, the main goal was to port all core components to Gtk3 (over Gtk2) and GDBus (over D-Bus GLib). Most components also received GObject Introspection support. The release provides polishing for the user experience and introduces quite a few new features, improvements and fixings.

The main highlights of this release are:

  • The window manager received a slew of updates and features, including support for VSync (using either Present or OpenGL as backend) to reduce or remove display flickering, HiDPI support, improved GLX support with NVIDIA proprietary/closed source drivers, support for XInput2, various compositor improvements and a new default theme.
  • The panel got support for RandR's primary monitor feature, improved window grouping in the tasklist plugin (better UX, visual group indicator etc), a per-panel “icon-size” setting, a new default clock format and clock format evaluator as well as an improved default panel layout.
  • The desktop now has support for RandR's primary monitor feature, an orientation option for icon arrangement, a “Next Background” context menu option to advance the wallpaper and it now syncs the user's wallpaper selection to AccountsService.
  • A completely new settings dialog to manage color profiles has been created. For most users this means out of the box support for color-managed printing (through cupsd) and scanning (through saned). For monitor profiles you will have to install an additional service like xiccd.
  • The display dialog received a lot of attention during this cycle and a big feature: Users are now able to save and (automatically) restore complete multi-display configurations, which is especially helpful for those who frequently connect their laptop to varying docking stations or setups. Furthermore a lot of time was spent on making the user interface more intuitive and a hidden option was added to support RandR display scaling (configured via Xfconf).
  • We added an option to enable Gtk window scaling to the appearance dialog and a monospace font option as well. However we had to drop theme previews as they didn't produce consistent results with Gtk3.
  • While we decided to drop splash screens from the session manager, we added lots of features and fixes instead. Among them are hybrid sleep support, improvements to the default session startup avoiding race conditions, a feature to add and edit autostart entries, a switch user button in the logout dialog and improved session chooser and settings dialogs (the latter with a new tab that shows saved sessions). Furthermore you can now run commands not only "autostart style" at login time, but also when your computer suspends, logs out etc. Finally Gtk applications are now session-managed over DBus and screensavers are also communicated with (e.g. inhibited) over DBus.
  • As always, Thunar - our file manager - received a lot of features and fixes. Among the visible changes are the completely reworked pathbar, support for larger thumbnails as well as support for a "folder.jpg" file altering the folder's icon (e.g. for music album covers). Power users will also notice the improved keyboard navigation (zooming, tab navigation). Thunar's volume manager has gained Bluray support.
  • Our thumbnailing service tumbler received a lot of fixes and support for the Fujifilm RAF format.
  • The application finder can now optionally be opened as a single window and can now be more easily navigated with the keyboard only.
  • The power manager received a lot of bugfixes and some smaller features, including support for the XF86Battery button and for the newly created xfce4-screensaver. The panel plugin also saw several improvements: it can now optionally show the remaining time and/or percentage and it now relies on UPower's standard icon names to work with more icon themes out of the box. With LXDE moving on to a QT base the LXDE panel plugin was dropped.

GNOME

GNOME 3.34 (codename Thessaloniki) is in Leap 15.2. The GNOME 3.34 introduces custom folders in the application overview. Simply drag an application icon on top of another to create a folder. Folders are automatically removed when all icons have been dragged out of them. Icons in the application overview can be grouped together into folders. Drag an icon on top of another to create a group. Removing all icons from a group will automatically remove the group too. This makes organizing applications much easier and keeps the application overview clutter-free.

icon-grid-drag.png

The overview visual style was refined as well, including the search entry field, the login password field and the overview window highlight border. All these changes give the GNOME desktop an improved overall experience.

There are also many other smaller improvements in this GNOME release like:

  • Several applications have received new icons, including Photos, Videos, and To Do.
  • Terminal now supports right-to-left and bi-directional languages.
  • Some animations in the overview have been refactored, resulting in faster icon loading and caching.
  • Files now warns users when attempting to paste a file into a write-protected directory.
  • The accessibility feature Pointer Location has been updated to work under Wayland sessions now. When the feature is enabled, pressing Ctrl will highlight the pointer location on the screen.
  • The Activities hot-corner can now be disabled by setting org.gnome.desktop.interface.enable-hot-corners to false.
  • Settings has a refined Wi-Fi list that is easier to read. Search sections can now be reordered by dragging them in the list. The Night Light section has been moved to the Display panel.
  • Software has a larger assortment of featured applications.
  • Polari now displays a banner notifying the user when the app is offline.

KDE

Plasma

Plasma 5.18 LTS is the third long-term support release from the KDE Plasma team. Leap 15.2 includes this new LTS version. Plasma 5.18 will be updated and maintained by KDE contributors for the next two years (regular versions are maintained for 4 months). In Plasma 5.18 you will find neat new features that make notifications clearer, settings more streamlined and the overall look more attractive. Plasma 5.18 is easier and more fun to use, while at the same time allowing you to be more productive when it is time to work.

If you are thinking of updating or migrating your school, company or organization to Plasma, this version is your best bet, as you get the most stable version of Plasma *and* all the new features too.

Plasma 5.18 is even more user-friendly as we have added more features that let you work, play and express yourself better. Take the new Emoji Selector: it is literally always just two keystrokes away. Hold down the Meta (Windows) key and press the period (.) and it will pop up. Click on the icon that best represents your feelings and you can paste the emoji into your email, social media post, text message or even your terminal.

Continuing with improvements to the overall look, Plasma 5.18 comes with better support for GTK applications using client-side decorations. These applications now show proper shadows and the resize areas for them. GTK apps now also automatically inherit Plasma's settings for fonts, icons, mouse cursors and more. Plasma now starts significantly faster and start-up scripts have been converted from bash to C++ and now run asynchronously. There is also much better support for public WiFi logins.

To help relax your eyesight, there's a new system tray widget that lets you toggle the Night Color feature. You can also configure keyboard shortcuts to turn Night Color and Do Not Disturb modes on or off.

NightColorWidget.png

System Settings

There are quite a few new things in Plasma 5.18's System Settings. First and foremost is the optional User Feedback settings. These are disabled by default to protect your privacy. The System Settings Virtual Desktops page has been rewritten for Wayland support and there is a new panel for managing and configuring Thunderbolt devices.

That said, if you do decide to share information about your installation with us, none of the options allows the system to send any kind of personal information. In fact, the Feedback settings slider lets you decide how much you want to share with KDE developers. KDE developers can later use this information to improve Plasma further and better adapt it to your needs.

UserFeedback.png

Other notable changes in this release include:

  • Discover is greatly improved. Now also supports fwupd allowing to upgrade the computer's firmware.
  • Improved external monitor dialog and workflow
  • Improved media player widget.
  • Many improvements for Wayland support everywhere.
  • Fractional scaling is now supported on Wayland.
  • XdgStable, XdgPopups and XdgDecoration protocols are now fully implemented.
  • Wayland now supports virtual desktops, and they work in a more fine-grained way than on X11. Users can place a window on any subset of virtual desktops, rather than just on one or all of them.
  • Initial support for using Wayland with proprietary Nvidia drivers has been added. Graphics are also no longer distorted after waking the computer from sleep with Nvidia drivers.
  • New accessibility feature that lets the user move the cursor with the keyboard when using libinput
  • Many improvements in Plasma's System Monitor, ksysguard.
  • Flatpak portal support

YaST

Installer improvements

The openSUSE installer remains as powerful and versatile as ever, allowing to easily tweak every single aspect of the system including the mitigation for CPU based attacks like Spectre or Meltdown. But power should not be at odds with usability, and the installation process of Leap 15.2 presents several improments in this area, like a more user-friendly dialog for selecting the system role, improved information about the installation progress, better compatibility with right-to-left languages like Arabic and many other small enhancements.

As always, Leap provides a smooth and uniform experience in all kinds of hardware, from small single-board computers like Raspberry Pi to powerful mainframe systems. But without renouncing to the specifics that make those platforms great. Thus, the Leap 15.2 installer offers a better management of storage devices for Raspberry Pi, a more accurate detection of MS Windows partitions encrypted with BitLocker and mechanisms to take advantage of some of the some brand new features of the IBM zSeries mainframes, like Secure Boot or automatic configuration of I/O devices.

YaST improvements

YaST is the most complete configuration tool for Linux. Leap 15.2 is the first openSUSE release to introduce a gradual change that splits system’s configuration between /usr/etc and /etc directories. YaST supports that new structure in all the affected modules, offering to system administrators a central point to inspect the configuration that will help them during the transition and beyond.

Leap can be executed on top of the Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL), delivering the power of openSUSE to the Windows world. The YaST version in Leap 15.2 improves the compatibility with that platform, specially when executing YaST Firstboot in order to perform all the needed initial adjustments.

Another goal of this new version of YaST is improving the experience and possibilities of configuring the network. The YaST Network module has been extensively reworked and now is more robust and consistent, not only in the surface but also under the hood, which opens new possibilities for future enhancements.

The YaST Partitioner keeps being the most powerful tool to configure all kind of storage technologies in Linux, both during installation of the system or at any later point. In this release, apart from several usability improvements, it incorporates the possibility of creating and managing Btrfs file-system that expands over several devices and also allows to use more advanced encryption technologies.

But those are not the only YaST module that has been improved. The Software Manager is now faster, the NFS module is more robust and functional, YaST NTP Client now uses systemd timers to configure periodic clock synchronizations... The full list of modules that has received other small fixes and usability enhancements also includes Keyboard, Bootloader, Kdump, Security and more.

Snapper

Snapper is a tool for managing BTRFS and LVM snapshots. It can create, diff and restore snapshots and provides timelined auto-snapping. Scripting with it is now easier than ever thanks to its new machine-readable output. The Snapper plugin for libzypp has also been reworked to not depend on Python, making it usable in systems with a very reduced set of packages.

GNU Health

GNU Health, the award-winning health- and hospital management system, comes in version 3.6.4. It has an updated GUI and is prepared for COVID-19 pandemic tracking, including updated ICD-10 codes and improved laboratory functions.

Furthermore, it can directly interface with Orthanc, the free PACS Server, which is now as well shipped with openSUSE.