openSUSE:SWOT analysis for strategy

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The following list is the result of a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) analysis of the openSUSE project done by the openSUSE board and some community members. The list is very subjective and unpolished. It was created in a brainstorming session and only sorted but not reviewed. Therefore, it contains entries that are ideas of single members of the brainstorming session and are not supported by other members of the session.

Note: BrainStorming Prague contains few additional points to the following list, too.

Legend: Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats

Market, Business aspects

  • S: Linux business is becoming the cash cow for Novell
  • S: expecting a strongly increasing demand for OSS and Linux expertise in the future (growing market)
  • W: Novell is not seen - like Red Hat - as Open Source friend
  • O: More outreach opportunities beyond our openSUSE community
  • O: Convince Shuttleworth to base Ubuntu on openSUSE ;-)
  • O: Make openSUSE a more user-oriented system that meets general consumer expectations
  • O: Create a distribution and toolset that can be used by others to be easily customizable for their needs
  • O: Find more opportunities to examine end-user experience with the OS plus applications installed with the OS
  • O: easy deployment on cloud platforms
  • T: some pretty active and well funded projects out there (esp. Ubuntu)


  • S: works out of the box; works out of the box on most laptops
  • S: good branding and artwork
  • S: single configuration tools YaST
  • S: decent .net support with mono (?)
  • S: Solid code base, good balance b/w innovation and stability (?)
  • S: package mgmt stack that survives subscribing to 50 repos which may not be consistent ...
  • S: default config works out-of-the-box
  • S: bleeding edge development platform
  • S: nice installer
  • W: Java unusable
  • W: Bad QA
  • W: manual configuration is complex
  • W: lots of cool features are not documented, thus not used or integrated
  • W: "golden cage" problem
  • O: Big abuses of data leaks or security issues in propr. systems will lead to more awareness for the need of open OSes
  • T: Distribution becomes a commodity and all distributions become more or less equal


  • S: multiple desktops
  • S: signed package repositories / secure package management stack
  • S: fast package management
  • S: lots of new technologies
  • S: 1-click install
  • S: command-not-found utility
  • S: ncurses yast interface
  • S: new openOffice
  • W: no appstore
  • W: we lack innovation or maybe just lack to communicate innovation properly
  • W: unclear purpose of distro
  • W: java support is awful, almost non-existing, even though java is by far the most used platform in IT development since and for the next few years
  • W: user has to subscribe to 10+ repos to install packages he/she wants
  • W: focus on GNOME/KDE, other DEs are not very used/tested
  • W: factory not very usable
  • O: marking packages as rock-stable/experimental
  • T: yast development stalled
  • T: slow/unstable applications


  • S: OBS builds for different distributions
  • W: OBS too complex to use
  • W: OBS and capabilities not well known outside the project and probably not even inside
  • O: Become the development platform for smart phones,e.g. for the Meego platform
  • O: become the devel platform for upstream projects
  • O: Many upstream projects to see usefullness of OBS and leveraging it as THE platform to distribute binaries
  • O: always up2date ruby gems in OBS, opensuse as platforms for RoR developers
  • O: live CDs for Xfce/LXDE or more general live CDs for many special needs


  • S: active forums
  • S: We have a box product!
  • S: nice logo, people can identify with animal better than with hat or circle
  • S: openSUSE conference
  • W: no openSUSE community manager even when there is an openSUSE community manager
  • W: no organized (language-)local communities, nothing that connects them to the project; Ambassadors not functional
  • W: we don't do much to praise our contributors and motivate them to do more
  • W: no dedicated professional graphics artists
  • W: missing appeeal/"coolness" of openSUSE (and Novell) brand vs. e.g. Ubuntu (what do they actually stand for?), Debian (the purists), Fedora (the ???)
  • W: Unclear strategy: Where does openSUSE try to excel?
  • W: completely broken forums situation for non-en_US
  • W: our marketing is bad
  • W: not enough local events for contributors
  • W: only few people showing up at local events, e.g. at Nuernberg Launch event
  • W: not enough presence on universities (but that applies for FOSS in general ...)
  • T: Lack of budget to compete with well-funded entities for marketing
  • T: small comunity


  • S: we reach a high number of people with high technical knowledge
  • S: we have many brilliant, technical savvy people in our community
  • W: Community is not considered welcoming to new participants
  • W: michl keeps hearing from several people, 鈥淲e have a consuming community which contributes too little鈥
  • W: extremely low # of women contributing
  • O: Build greater online presence in our support channels
  • O: alot of control ceded to the community in the past year and just need to be taken
  • T: next gen is not interested in low-level stuff such as OSes any more, so we'll get an old community ...


  • S: openSUSE community pretty pragmatic about many aspects (allowing others with different views to plug in etc.)
  • S: No need to sign any papers, e.g. copyright assignments, to contribute to the project
  • W: Too much discussion in community - and too little actual contribution
  • W: weak board; no lead
  • W: inappropriate organization/hierarchy
  • W: lack of decisions (though that might be the same of lack of lead), too much freedom to novell employees in certain areas
  • W: unclear goals of the project


  • S: significant contributions (and sometimes influence) to upstream projects
  • S: Linux is one of the few standard platforms people learn and develop against
  • S: boosters team
  • W: contributors need novell account
  • W: iChain
  • W: Linux is not a well-defined std? Languages? Frameworks? Toolkits?
  • W: not much deep involvement and coaching from core openSUSE developers (including and probably even foremost novell employees)
  • W: some developers are really stubborn; bad relationship between most devs from NUE and the community
  • W: decreasing support of Novell engineers
  • W: Upstream projects are not interested how stuff works in distributions
  • W: too few active contributors/package maintainers
  • W: packagers don't keep contact with upstream projects well enough
  • W: almost noone using Factory
  • W: consuming community
  • W: Boosters team not delivering yet what they planned to do
  • W: low number of packages in Factory
  • W: the number of pkg submissions to factory from non-SUSE is still not very high (is it?)
  • T: Almost no end user has a need for traditional OSes anymore (traditional PCs go away, ev'thing on mobile platforms w/ internet storage and a bit of flash as cache)
  • T: Which restricts us to the server, where it's hard to build a community


  • S: good reputation, german enginneering
  • O: Better documentation of hardware support


  • S: we are way more than just a distribution, we can offer an eco system of tools around the distribution (OBS, wiki, openFATE, Hermes etc.)
  • S: with OBS simple addition of new software
  • S: Studio with nice frontend
  • S: a certain degree of innovation in area of low-level tooling (OBS, zypp, satsolver, solv, kiwi, clicfs,
  • W: lots of cool technology almost no one knows about (no one = other devs from other projects)
  • O: Create AppStore to become the central place for high-quality binary packages
  • O: integrate openSUSE with DropBox/SpiderOak
  • O: integrate openSUSE with iFolder
  • O: SUSE Studio as a platform to provide ready to go appliances with newest apps
  • T: Developers who are not as close to the openSUSE ecosystem are not easily aware of how to find OBS repos for latest/greatest

Novell - openSUSE relationship

  • S: Novell sponsors the project with people, hardware and services
  • W: Tension between openSUSE & Novell, how much control is Novell willing to relinquish?

(controlled by Novell, Novell鈥檚 MS Deal etc.)

  • W: Novell except-OPS ignore openSUSE completely
  • W: is a complete failure, LSB is a dead horse, lack of will, too much corporation, etc.
  • W: Novell's about split position abut open and closed source
  • W: Boosters have to do SLE/maintenance stuff
  • W: community cannot participate in opensuse infrastructure
  • T: public perception out there is not that positive against openSUSE