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openSUSE:OpenSUSE and other distributions

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This page is part of the talking points, and offers a selection of desktops instead of just one

This page will give you, as an openSUSE ambassador, arguments in a discussion about the value of openSUSE for people who want to help in Open Source. See here for an article about the major technical differences between openSUSE (12.3) and other Linux distributions.

The page is under construction and mostly contains arguments advocating the use of openSUSE over other popular distributions. Feel free to add any braindump or question you have! If you have arguments against having both we can discuss them and make even better arguments for the ambassadors.


Why openSUSE and not Debian, Fedora or Ubuntu?

One useful talking point you might need when somebody asks you "Why openSUSE?" comparing us to Fedora and/or Ubuntu:

  • Fedora does well in pushing forward the Linux stack and testing new technologies.
  • Ubuntu does a good job at simplifying and making things easy to use for basic tasks.
  • openSUSE Leap is for those who need to "get work done", as it has a longer release cycle and more focus on stability than Fedora. It has better tools (OBS, Studio, YaST) and much more flexibility than Ubuntu.
  • openSUSE Tumbleweed is for those that want to have the latest software, yet still want enough system stability so that they are not constantly wrangling bugs. It follows a rolling release model, yet offers superior system stability to Fedora Rawhide.
  • Debian offers fair performance on a server (although it offers no enterprise grade support), however, it can be either outdated ("Debian Stable") or unstable and unpredictable ("Unstable" and "Testing" development trees).
None of the above is black and white. openSUSE does experimental things, has the occasional instability and can be inflexible in areas. But the big picture is as described above - despite differences in individual experiences.

From a community point of view openSUSE is far more open than Fedora, Ubuntu, Debian and many other distribution. Other distributions tend to be more tightly controlled by corporate sponsors or community governance processes that leverage technical boards, community committees, self appointed benevolent dictators (<- that's Mark Shuttleworth in his own words) and lots of bureaucracy. We maintain a German-engineering culture associated with directness and high quality standards - if you do the work, you get the respect. Nobody tells you what to do.

  • does openSUSE offer something more than Fedora and Ubuntu?
    • A key differentiator here is YaST - no other distribution provides such a comprehensive and integrated tool for installing, configuring and administrating the distribution. You get one tool that can be used on both the command line as well as the GUI or via a web browser instead of multiple individual tools with varying quality and usability (e.g. different looks and work flows).
    • Our community is another advantage. We're an open, bottom-up community while Ubuntu has Shuttleworth as self-appointed dictator, going around and telling people what to do (for example the highly controversial move to Unity).
    • moreover, openSUSE has a strong focus on collaboration and doing what is good for Free Software, very much unlike Ubuntu which tries to get software developers to specifically target Ubuntu which is creating 'special' GTK and Qt interfaces.
  • But apt-get is way better!
    • No, it's not. Some think it is faster - it isn't. Zypper downloads the differences of packages (instead of the full package) from several servers at once. Thanks to Mirrorbrain the openSUSE mirror infrastructure can't be beaten. Moreover, zypper has the fastest dependency solver in the world - and also the most accurate. It offers alternatives if problems are found instead of just bailing out with an error message like apt-get does. The one thing that makes people think zypper is slow is because by default, it updates the repositories any time you use zypper. This can be disabled easily, however. It is there to make sure you always have the latest repository information. Our repositories update on average far more often than Ubuntu's as many openSUSE users have a large number of OBS repositories. OBS makes delivering new software so easy for packages that they do it all the time... But if you disable the auto-update and use zypper ref manually, it beats apt-get any time.
  • but Ubuntu offers Enterprise Long Term Support versions - openSUSE has 36 months of support
    • Sure, they offer an 'LTS' version. Which is 5 years - almost twice as long as openSUSE offers. However, that does mean you're stuck with old software. It is much more difficult to install new software on older Ubuntu than on older openSUSE. Also note that Ubuntu's support is very limited, they reject fixing some bugs in LTS even if there is already a fix upstream. Their support for LTS is mostly limited to kernel updates.
  • Ubuntu claims to have way more binary packages available.
    • This is an illusion. Debian (and also Ubuntu) splits up packages much more, count language & debug & source packages etcetera. We have those in separate repositories to not clutter up the software installation.
    • For openSUSE you can find a HUGE amount of software in OBS (120.000 packages!) and also use packages from other distributions (or rebuild them in OBS yourself if they are incompatible).
    • Moreover, openSUSE packagers are very friendly. If you ask on the build service mailing list for a package you can usually count on it being packaged in no-time.
  • see the other generic openSUSE arguments.

How openSUSE is handling security?

Security is one of main Linux advantages, but not all distributions are equally agile to provide their users with security patches.

Indirect indication of how serious is one distro's approach to security is when other security sources quote it in their reports.

go brainstorm and answer the questions (or add more)!