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openSUSE:Strategy proposal overview

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This is a summary of the openSUSE strategy process.
This is only a draft. Feel free to edit this page!

Summary of the openSUSE Strategy discussion

Sources: see the links in the navbar and the discussions in the forum.


  • Effectiveness = Doing the right things => Strategy
  • Efficiency = Doing the things right => Structure, processes and culture
  • Structure follows strategy. (Define the strategy first and define then the changes in structure, processes etc.)

Major steps to define a (new) strategy are:

  • Analysis
  • Options
  • Evaluation
  • Consequences (structure, processes, actions, projects, culure change, ...)


External / Environment (Industry)

Competitors (dominated players):

  • Microsoft: Traditional monopolist; Advantage: Distribution / market penetration
  • Apple: Grow in the last years, Advantage: Usability, style, exclusivity (high price segment).
  • Other Linux distributions: Compared to the market share of the two other competitors these should be classified as friends.


  • Server: Server market is the Linux cash cow. It's the biggest market, provides good profits and is still growing. (Medium - high marketshare, good market growth). [Stabilize and try to grow. This should remain a main focus.]
  • Enduser: Has great potential (low market share at the moment). Difficult business model unless you combine it with hardware sales (and therefore have contracts with hardware vendors). [Important if we want more than 1% marketshare. Much resources needed but could be done in tight cooperations with upstream projects and other distros.]
  • Mobile computing / business: Has even greater potential but need specific developments to embed OpenSuse technologies in mobile devices. Offers new business models (even to end users via AppStores). Highly dynamic market with possible profit through appstores business models. The position of desktop marketshares (MS Windows) do not count. [Excellent market entry point! Keep that in mind.]
  • Cloud computing: Has potential but competitors have an advantage here (difficult to catch up). [Do we have the knowledge and resources to compete here? Is the timing to late?]
  • Education: To be present in the educational sector has a great long term effect. The students know Linux / openSUSE and are familiar with it (at the moment they only know Windows and perhaps Apple). The price is important in this market segment (not much money for software). [This is essential! Highest priority!]
  • SME (Small and medium enterprises): Price, stability and usability is important. oS must provide a better solution than others (price-value-ratio, easier, do things they want to do in a better way,...). Applications / systems which do what they want (flexibility). [Excellent market for SME software businesses around openSUSE. We should provide this posibilities to earn money and insure their contributions to openSUSE in return. This is WIN-WIN.]
  • Major companies : mostly linked with MS or Apple. ...


  • Increased hardware variations (esp. mobile devices like smartphones, tablets, netbooks, 鈥)
  • Change in the industry (see the impact from android and Apple)
  • The demand for Linux is increasing (B2B).
  • The demand for technology that just works is increasing (B2C).
  • The Linux market is splattered and it seems that the lack of collaboration will not be fixed soon.
  • Distribution becomes a commodity and all distributions become more or less equal.
  • Hype branch mobile and cloud computing
  • Growing popularity of Qt.
  • Neither freedom of software nor higher technical quality of linux systems are commonly valued

Internal / Organization (SWOT):

Background info SWOT:

Strengths (internal):

  • Great technologies: OBS, SUSE studio, openFATE, 1-click-install, good out-of-the-box-capabilities, stable core, Snapper, YAST...
  • Good core community (e.g. brilliant, technical sawy people, active forum)
  • High stability of OpenSuse distros : fewer post-install configuration, polished interface (desktop integration of all tools, consistent design of Opensuse theme), few bugs, fully international distribution
  • Equal integration of KDE and Gnome GUI though KDE is the default one. Opensuse has a better integration of Gnome than Fedora does for KDE...
  • Extensive documentation: Opensuse provides an extensive Wiki, forum, etc.

Weaknesses (internal):

  • Not enough presence of expandable technologies : missing App Store, too many repositories, state of Java, level of innovation)
  • Newbie integration in the Community (community management, small community, not enough new contributors, improvable integration of new members, no local communities, 鈥済olden cage鈥, missing direction/strategy, too much discussion 鈥 too less action)
  • Marketing presence : missing presence at (local) events and at universities, many cool tools and features are not known outside the community, less media exposition than some other distributions
  • Links with Novell : Novell's image is not considered completely open source friendly,
  • Aesthetic: Though OpenSuse provides a beautiful desktop integration, colors and effects are loved by everyone and no alternate theme are available
  • OpenSuse Tools Usability: Though Yast and installation software do have a high technical value, they are not easy to use for newbies
  • Usability of the docs: Information in OpenSuse documentation is hard to find

Opportunities (external):

  • Developer friendly: Many developers are looking for an open, upstream friendly, technologically advanced distribution.
  • Change in the industry: (move to mobile, increased demand for Linux, ...)
  • MS windows and office evolutions : some end user are lost by new developments from Microsoft : Win 7 policies, Win8 interface. Linux GUI (KDE & Gnome) are then more easy to use for MS users than new MS ones,...
  • Usability value capture: Consumer market (B2C) honors usability (simple and easy) and coolness more than freedom. OpenSuse is one of the easiest to use Linux distribution

Threads (external):

  • Lack of cooperation within the FLOSS community
  • Increased hardware variations: a modern distro must also be tablet and tactile PC friendly...
  • Superior marketing from MS and Apple (much more money)
  • Enduser Value switch: Consumer market (B2C) honors usability (simple and easy) and coolness more than freedom.


  • Could we build a broad, rocking and cool community around openSUSE to have the resources to blast all challenges away (e.g. boost our technology and marketing)?
  • Could we find the perfect way between independence from and cooperation with our sponsor(s)?
  • If we go for the desktop / netbook market (B2C) could we provide the required stability, usability and coolness for the big variety of different hardware?
  • Could we improve the collaboration within the FLOSS community to concentrate our energy and resources on the challenges together?


Morphological box

The Zwicky-Box is a creative technique to makes your options clearer. In the first column you find the variable and in the next columns the possibilities (values). Take a pen and draw a 鈥減ath鈥 marking the values which are needed for a specific strategy.

The variables and values have been taken from the strategy proposals and the analysis. Feel free to modify them or add new ones. openSUSE-options.png

Download this image as file:

  • Summary openSUSE Strategy (PDF) [1]
  • Summary openSUSE Strategy (ODT) [2]
  • Summary openSUSE Strategy (png) [3]

You can draw 鈥減aths鈥 for the other proposed strategies or those from other distros to see what they are focusing on.

Visualizations of proposed strategies

Visualizations of the options of the proposed strategies in PDF and ODF (.odt) are here: [4]


To evaluate the strategies every strategy should be evaluated with the following criteria:

Unique selling proposition USP:

  • What problem do we solve? What is the value we create? Does it increase with the new strategy?
  • What's the difference to our competitors?
  • Do we get access to attractive (future oriented) areas?
  • Could we protect our / this USP?

Timing: Is it the right time? Is it too early or too late?

Strength/Weaknesses: Does the strategy build on our strengths and address the weaknesses?

Opportunities/Threads: Do we use our chances? Do we have good answers to the threads?

Concentration of forces: Do we focus our efforts?

Reaction of the environment: What might be the reaction of

  • the competitors
  • our allies (e.g. sponsors like Novell)
  • the community (core member, contributor, users)

Chance of realization:

  • Do we have enough resources?
  • Does everybody stand wholeheartedly behind the strategy and is kicking ass to let the vision come true?

Strategic keyquestions:

  • Does the strategy give a clear and convincing answer to the big challenges?

The verbal evaluation could be summarized in the following table:

Home for devel Base forderivats Mobileandcloud #1 KDE Power-user Linxdistro Status quo Open communnity
USP 7 4 9 8 5 5 5 9
Timing 9
Strength/ weakn. 9
Opp/Thr 9
Concentration 4
Reaction 4
Realization 7
Keyquestions 8 9 6 9

10 = excellent, 1 = not good

Consequences / Actions


  • Timing and responsibilities
  • Structure, organization, processes
  • Culture and leadership
  • Cooperation and alliances
  • Risks
  • ...

[To be continued after the strategy is defined...]