Recently, openSUSE 11.3 reached EOL (End-of-Life) (openSUSE News). While the passing was not unanticipated (Lifetime - openSUSE), and, from comments, not altogether rued, the event was somewhat less than uneventful. Within a few flighting days after the demise, its ashes still in the wind and the fresh soil still moist, traces of its existence began to disappear.
With but a single openSUSE 11.3 system at home, my favorite and most reliable platform, and a few at a local not-for-profit that I render support, I took more than a passing interest as repositories began to disappear. The first to find notice was the KDE 4.7 Release (Index of /repositories/KDE:/Release:/47), followed in short order with the “Extra” and “Updated Apps” repositories. Soon thereafter, the oS “Contribution” and languages : python met the same demise.
I comment on this as I do not expect support nor assistance with an EOL’ed platform, but wonder at the somewhat immediate sanitization of the repositories. The gradual deletion led to a number of annoying problems with YAST and zypper. Were this cleanout of EOL’ed products and components applied consistently, these actions might have been more understandable. However, a quick perusal of the various repositories shows openSUSE 11.1 and 11.2 repositories (albeit empty in many cases) for several components. An empty repository might lead to interesting dependency problems and indication of orphaned packages, but spares one from the “repository not available” messages, with prompts to abort, retry or skip.
Since the product(s) is(are) out of support, these repositories are, of course, not updated. Is the physical support (drive space and energy) a significant concern ? Would such past-life repositories need to be mirrored fully ?
While these comments may more properly belong in “Soapbox”, the spectre of the approaching EOL of openSUSE 11.4 (7+ months hence) gives rise to more serious concern. openSUSE 11.4 was accompanied by the change from openOffice to LibreOffice, a not altogether transparent effort. On openSUSE 11.3, this change was introduced as a “Security Update” (which it was NOT!), and easily taboo’ed. With openSUSE 12.n, the migration from Gnome2 to Gnome3 has become an issue in many areas, and is not easily circumvented. Although the recent introduction of Cinnamon provides some respite, this is not a solution.
Given the lifetime schedules somewhat firm and the increasing user base, these migration issues will become a regular revisitation. There are alternatives, such as a “long-term support” release akin to the Ubuntu/Linux Mint strategy, and in the specific case of the openSUSE 11.4 → 12.1 Gnome situation, a longer period prior to EOL. I sincerely hope that such alternatives may be seriously considered.