Why not a LTS openSUSE release like Ubuntu?

Hi,

I do not know whether this kind of a question was asked before, but i was wondering whether it would be a worthwhile idea to have periodic releases of openSUSE that are supported for 3 to 4 years like the LTS releases of Ubuntu.

I understand that the openSUSE community is more into developing a distro that strikes a good balance between ease of use, stability and latest software. So in this context a LTS kind of release might be an option to be experimented with.

I say this because i am currently using 11.0 and am quite satisfied with it. Since i have added lots of extra packages (not from conflicting repos ofcourse),compiled some packages, set up some other work related stuff etc, i dread shifting over to 11.3 or later and having to redo the whole thing.

My friends too are still using Fedora 6, all because it is still working and a working fresh installation is too much of a hassle.

In fact i am not even planning to install 11.3 when 11.0 is no longer supported, rather i am planning to install 12.0 or 12.1. I am even thinking of CentOS 6.x when they are released since they will have a 6-7 year support !!

I am eager to have some comments/suggestions/clarifications on this issue.

Thanks.

I vagely recall a discussion on this and from what I can recall, one of the major reasons against this is because it’ll go compete against Novell’s commercial offerings of SLES/SLED, which are by default TLS. If we had such an LTS openSUSE then it is very possible that lots of people will choose it over SLES/SLED which in the end can hurt Novell.

To have a release supported for 3 to 4 years you “only” need people willing to give that support.

Novell is willing to give support for 18 months, no more.
A lot of users update to the latest openSUSE the same day it’s released, they neither are interested in the support for older versions. In fact they probably are against Novell degrading the support for the latest version to assign resources to support an old verion.

But Novell hasn’t a monopoly over the openSUSE support. You are interested in a LTS, your friends are also interested in a LTS… well, continue searching and once you are enough people just give that support.
If you are unable to find enough people then you should ask yourself why Novell or anybody else should assign resources to give a support so few people asks for.

If you have no problems with CentOS… yes, it seems a lot simpler to just use it instead of trying to create a long support team for openSUSE.

samrat rao wrote:
> Hi,
>
> I do not know whether this kind of a question was asked before, but i
> was wondering whether it would be a worthwhile idea to have periodic
> releases of openSUSE that are supported for 3 to 4 years like the LTS
> releases of Ubuntu.

Anything community driven requires workers. There’s nothing stopping
anyone from creating an LTS openSUSE variant. And, if it’s well motivated,
it could even become an “official” openSUSE thing.

With regards to the rest (which I snipped… sorry), it’s not unusual
to SKIP openSUSE releases. So the idea of moving from 11.0 to some later
version is ok. Just have to realize that there might be a support gap
if you want until 12.1 (for example).

Also, others posted some such about competition against SLES/SLED… well,
the short answer there is “no”… an LTS openSUSE would NOT compete
against SLES/SLED. The only hint of that happening would be if a
CentOS like thing were created, but Novell, unlike Red Hat, does NOT
publish their source code changes (without some kind of subscription
in place). But… with that said, a person with access to the source
changes, could, in theory republish them (the power of the GPL) and
a CentOS like thing could be established (you just need one “paying”
customer).

In all fairness, I don’t see a “cooperative” LTS or “leeching” CentOS
like thing in Novell’s or openSUSE’s future. I think it is more likely
that we’ll see an entire fork (no offense, but Novell sorta stinks at
the whole “how to be a Linux distro” thing). Of course, at best,
you’d end up with something Ubuntu-like… question is, is Ubuntu a
“success”? I know right now in the corporate world, Ubuntu has pretty
much no traction. You do not see a large ISV list of companies supporting
Ubuntu.

But, there is a smidgeon of Ubuntu on the desktop in a corporate fashion
using Dell (for example). However, the big ISV’s are more server centric,
and there’s pretty much nothing there.

Well each release has a 2 year lifespan, just a year under a LTS

No? Imagine if openSUSE gets LTS and all those who buy into SLES/SLED for the long support time and do have a small team of ITers, get to hear about this. Novell gets its cash from subscriptions for patches/updates and extra services and such it provides + support. If you do not require all those but solely buy SLE systems because of the long support/updates/patches time, then you can easily ditch SLE and replace it with LTS openSUSE and let your ITers do the support internally + get your updates/patches for free. This will hurt Novell somewhat. Obviously, not all who buy into SLE just do it because of the long support time so not all will jump if LTS openSUSE becomes reality, but some will do.

That’s been reduced to 18 months :wink:

Besides the issue of whether LTS openSUSE would take away business from SLES, over which much virtual ink has been spent, there is also a conflict between wanting the latest toys and server software stability.

Sometimes this goes to extremes. For example RHEL5/CentOS is still on PHP 5.1 not even 5.3 and anybody who wants the latter has to seek out third party packagers. You can understand RH’s position, they can’t issue updates because it might destablise working servers out there.

So if you are not into a lot of fancy stuff, then maybe CentOS is for you.

There is not really a (great?) conflict here. openSUSE already has a policy of not upgrading packages to major versions (eg, from 2.1.2 -> 2.2.x) and they only provide patches for the default versions shipped by the distro. Now, if they extend to LTS, this won’t change much and those who want latest version of something can get it from OBS (it can also already be done for SLE systems to some extent, but not all packagers build for SLE though it requires very little, if no change at all). So, those who’d want an LTS-safe system will just keep the defaults and recieve patches for them and those who want to play around, can add as many repo’s as they need, possibly sometimes at the expense of stability & problems.

There was a thread over at FATE about openSLE but I can’t recall its outcome nor much of the discussion. I only recall that not a lot were in favor, mostly those in the Novell corner (community was much more in favor)

No, the conflict is in the user’s head. Do you want to use a distro that has the bleeding edge stuff, e.g. openSUSE, etc, or do you want to use a distro where there is LTS but it may be an old version of the software, e.g. the proposed LTS openSUSE.

Which brings to light another problem. In the proposed LTS openSUSE, do you support everything as LTS? Say a security problem is found in an obscure package. Well yes, you have to, it is dangerous otherwise. But then with so many packages to support, that’s a big burden. RHEL only supports a core set of packages. Which is why it’s not so attractive to people wanting toys.

I support openSUSE installations for some customers. Some days I think I should move them to SLES and get them to pay, and then they can go longer than 2 years without a version upgrade. But I suspect I may end up using more time getting non-core packages for them from elsewhere, so it might cancel some of the benefits of SLES long term support.

Well yes, there’s always a conflict in people’s minds when you mix such things. Obviously, people looking for LTS on servers where stability & security are very important will be advised not to add extra repos than the main OSS and Update ones and all the packages that come with the distro need to be supported for the full timeframe (obscure packages that are not by the defaults, will not receive patches)… If they may need at some point php 5.3 or something, then they take a (small?) risk by adding a php repo to upgrade the default shipped php, but this is no different than how SLE is. A customer may have SLE 10 SP2, for example, and he may not have php 5.3 but may require it at some point, so he has two options; either upgrade to a higher SLE version or add a repo that provides the needed php version (I don’t know if Novell includes package version upgrades within their model (php 5.1 → 5.3 for example)). But if he goes to upgrade to newer SLE version, he throws away the remaining support time of his SLE 10 SP2 (or does the remaining gets added on top of the support time of SLE 11 if he upgrades?). If he adds a php repo, he won’t get patches/updates for that version as it’s not counted by the “default versions” that come with the distro

For those who want to play, it’s easy and won’t change much compared to how things currently are. Add repos to extend or upgrade packages but at risk of security/stability problems. The burden to support a lot of packages for a very long time is like you said, pretty high, and this also was one of the reasons why not to have a LTS openSUSE

Hi,

Thanks for the replies.

I had never considered and LTS version of openSUSE conflicting with SLES/SLED. Since most of the GNU/Linux community is free, there will be very few folks who give 24/7 time to such a venture.

Also one may ask how many folks actually use Ubuntu’s LTS releases for their full support cycle. Probably 99 out of 100 would not. In fact most of my friends do not get it when i tell them that i am in no mood to upgrade. Only those who work/need to work intensively with a Linus distro get what i am saying.

It is all okay to use the latest stuff if one has latest hardware, needs to play games, needs some multimedia apps etc.

That brings me to another question - What does the GNU/Linux community see itself as? As something that is a viable alternative to Microsoft/Mac OSes or as something that provides latest supports for the latest hardware (pardon me if i do not know the hardware support differences between MS and Linux)? What is the age group that actually uses Linux? Probably folks who have been around for 30+ years may not be that interested in using bleeding edge stuff.

Actually, i do opt for some of the latest packages, like Openoffice, Firefox etc, but if these are not provided, them i am not overtly concerned. But i am probably in a small fraction of such minded guys.

The reason i opened this thread is that i in a couple of years will give my PC to my parents and i may not be around where they are. They will use the PC for basic stuff - mails, songs, movies, voice calls and the like. So an LTS release is beneficial for such people. I guess its also about the target group that one addresses, since Microsoft releases are essentially LTS ones.

Thanks for reading !!

In short: not enough people were interested in one when we suggested forking SLES to, let’s call it openWHIP in the lack of better name, back in the day (not so long ago to be honest).

It takes time and effort to bundle all the packages, although we could just buy one copy of SLES and strip the branding from them and then re-distribute. I somehow doubt Novell would look favourably on our efforts and give us some room from these forums or allow us to use the mirroring system or build service to build our packages even if we were aiming for binary compatibility - using the SLES packages from OBS might cause issues if they included some Novell branding in them.

On Sat, 26 Dec 2009 23:56:01 GMT, ken yap
<ken_yap@no-mx.forums.opensuse.org> wrote:

>No, the conflict is in the user’s head. Do you want to use a distro that
>has the bleeding edge stuff, e.g. openSUSE, etc, or do you want to use a
>distro where there is LTS but it may be an old version of the software,
>e.g. the proposed LTS openSUSE.

Would anybody reading this REALLY use a long term support version of
openSUSE? Something that only included security patches, but no new
features for 2+ years! I can’t imagine running a LAMP server with no
new features for 2+ years.

Linux is a fast moving target these days. Long term support versions
just aren’t viable for desktop systems and barely so for servers.
Novell currently has a good working model for those wanting long term
support - somebody should be paid for maintaining patches for those
antique softwares.
Long live SLES!
SLED? not so much.

Believe it or not in the enterprise world sometimes they just want to keep the app running like it used to for years and years, with just security fixes where necessary. “New features” is a dirty phrase in those circles.

Migrating the install to a virtual machine sometimes solves the problem of how to keep the “old hardware” running, but you still need the security updates.

I just finished migrating a server from a 2002 release to a current one. The saving grace of that old install was that it was not connected to the Internet, so it didn’t matter much that the release was long out of support. Not everything could be the same, lprng isn’t viable anymore, but fortunately cups still has a lpr interface. And fortunately the binaries they wanted to continue to run weren’t linked against fancy libraries, just libc. With the current server now connected to the Internet so people can work from home, I’m having to teach the users to use ssh, X forwarding and all that.

samrat rao wrote:
…snip…
>
> That brings me to another question - What does the GNU/Linux community
> see itself as? As something that is a viable alternative to
> Microsoft/Mac OSes or as something that provides latest supports for the
> latest hardware (pardon me if i do not know the hardware support
> differences between MS and Linux)? What is the age group that actually
> uses Linux? Probably folks who have been around for 30+ years may not be
> that interested in using bleeding edge stuff.

Well, the “community” could be defined in many ways. In fact,
it’s probably wise to say there are “communities”, that is, for just
about every modus operandi out there, a community exists.

In general, most (but again, not necessarily all) FOSS developers
usually support only their latest branch. Thus, you could say that
the FOSS developer community wants to always look forward and not
backward. So… want the latest fix? Get the latest code… etc…

>
> Actually, i do opt for some of the latest packages, like Openoffice,
> Firefox etc, but if these are not provided, them i am not overtly
> concerned. But i am probably in a small fraction of such minded guys.

Hmmm… no… again, I don’t think there is a minority or majority
position. But if you want the latest, there is probably more “support”
since that’s where (in general) the developers are focused.

>
> The reason i opened this thread is that i in a couple of years will
> give my PC to my parents and i may not be around where they are. They
> will use the PC for basic stuff - mails, songs, movies, voice calls and
> the like. So an LTS release is beneficial for such people. I guess its
> also about the target group that one addresses, since Microsoft releases
> are essentially LTS ones.

Well… yes…err… no… you see, ideally if Microsoft supports things
well, then yes… you could argue that everything continues to work. But
realize some very important things:

  1. The Microsoft OS come with only a FEW applications. And even if you
    purchase more (like Office), realize that the majority of apps for Windows
    do NOT come from Microsoft.

  2. Microsoft, because of Linux distro competition (well, IMHO), has started
    to move forward and leave some things behind. In fact your old peripherals
    may well work better with Linux than with a newer version of Windows. In
    some cases it is because the vendor died, in others it’s because the vendor
    has moved forward… and if the driver was not considered as something for
    Microsoft to move forward (Microsoft in general does NOT support vendor
    drivers, they leave it to the vendor)… anyhow, this is becoming a
    bigger issue over time.

In all fairness, there really is NOT a good answer to this. This is why
even in Grandma and Grandpa’s computer world, they just buy new machines
when things don’t work right… irrespective of OS.

I wonder if this discussion is missing the point; openSUSE is moving towards almost transparent updates of each new version of the distro. Once there is no need to download a CD/DVD in order to upgrade to the latest version, the user experience will be of a never ending LTS version.

I think when most people in this forum write LTS they actually mean no more installs (in theory). In this sense, and yours, openSUSE is moving towards a continuous update model. Except that not all the kinks are worked out yet and there will still be some shocks now and then, e.g. when you suddenly discover that the nice add-ons you used to use for FF3 don’t work any more with FF4. But most users here can tolerate that sort of thing, after all they break their own systems by experimenting. :wink:

However what is meant by LTS in Ubuntu and in SLES is something quite different. It is in fact the opposite of rolling updates. It is stasis at released packages and versions for the sake of stability. Developer will do heroic patches to patch bugs in old versions of software even though the world has moved on.

Ubuntu embodies both models. Every release gives you a new set of changes and bugs. Every now and then a LTS is declared and that one lasts for longer.

To get the SLES sort of LTS, one would not start with openSUSE but with a legal copy of SLES and remove the branding a la CentOS vis a vis RHEL, as Chrysantine says. Whether Novell will object is unknown.

That’s why I say those people who want a “stable” version for their mums and dads are asking for a slight contradiction in terms. You want to give them up-to-date browsers and email clients and yet you want to freeze things for several years. That’s the sort of logic that gives us impossible to get rid of IE6.

I think the closest you can get to your goal is to pick a stable kernel like CentOS and then install FF, TB and other user apps on top of that, and keep those up to date.

There’s something I want to add in a somewhat different vein and this was mentioned by another poster: we are probably moving towards the “replace the whole dang computer” model. That’s not so good from the electronic waste point of view but it seems to be the way many people are behaving. What with computers in mobile phones for twits, sorry I mean tweets, people are not stuck on a machine for long anyway.

Maybe that’s why diehards like me like Linux, I can keep my computer for years longer than a M$ or Apple slave. lol!

I think it’s you who missed the point a bit :wink:

In addition to what ken said, an LTS usually does not change/upgrade package versions. There are many cases where a user buys into an LTS system and develops his apps around the apps provided by the system. If an LTS went crazy and updated packages to higher version (like it is the case when one does an upgrade from openSUSE 11.1 -> 11.2 - zypper dup) it is very possible that such upgrades can break compatibility with his own apps and he either will need to recompile them or do some other stuff to make them compatible with the newer program versions from the upgrade (and this can also bring downtimes frown upon), which is usually something most LTS people want to avoid. Of course, as time goes by, at some point the apps the user is deploying will need to be upgraded, but most are looking into running them as long as possible, hence the required very long time support for what to us “players & tweakers” is a very outdated system, when looking at programs versions in such LTS systems.