Would uptake increase with a stable version of openSUSE

I read this quite recent article, brought to my attention by MattB: Linux distribution popularity trends plotted

It shows the decline of openSUSE compared to Ubuntu, undoubtedly a product of great marketing on the part of Ubuntu.

But I was wondering about our so-quick repeat cycle, where there’s a new openSUSE every 8 months. That must be a big turn off for household mums and dads and even for young geeks who want to learn about Linux. To spend a few months getting to know openSUSE just to have it “made obsolete” would be a turn off for anyone who wasn’t a super nerd (like most of us who are here).

I think this 8-month cycle is OK because Novell want constant upgrades of openSUSE as a proving ground for their cashflow SLES/SLES and whatnot products. That’s a very valid need they have.

So what could make openSUSE more popular? Well of course there’s marketing. But that’s not what I’m on about today.

I think that Novell could release openSUSE X with no decimal point. Then service pack 1 instead of X.1, then service pack 2 instead of X.2, then 3, then 4 (whatever) on an 8 month schedule if they needed to.

The service packs can be able to perform a complete fresh install on a fresh partition or just upgrade openSUSE of an earlier service pack on an existing partition.

There’s no major difference to what’s being done now, there would just need to be more attention to integration and stability.

The psychological impact on the average domestic user would be very positive if they didn’t have to reinstall on different partitions every 8 months.

It seems such a better approach from a marketing and acceptance viewpoint that I must be missing something or else it would already be happening.

swerdna, you realize that Ubuntu has a shorter cycle than oS, don’t you? That may discourage some users, but it isn’t an oS issue.

I think that Novell could release openSUSE X with no decimal point. Then service pack 1 instead of X.1, then service pack 2 instead of X.2, then 3, then 4 (whatever) on an 8 month schedule if they needed to.
So swerdna I could accept a longer life cycle and even service packs if it brought more people to openSUSE. And, as geeky as I might be, I am not always ready to throw out a good working system just to try something newer. We know that doing a kernel update is the most common way to add new hardware support and doing a service pack, where a lot of time was spent making sure it does a lot more good than harm to existing systems updating the kernel, would surely give the Novell guys enough to do to keep them busy for a longer period of time.

I am thinking a lot of Linux supporters are not going to think replicating the Windows setup is a plus though. And, Multimedia support is my big hangup to get the average Mom and Pop excited about loading openSUSE. I would say that a boxed set at a reasonable price that includes this Multimedia support is what I think would do the trick, combined with your service pack suggestions. But, it sounds a lot like Windows to me, even though it would not be.

How long do you suppose I spent getting my copy of openSUSE working just right, Multimedia and all, combining KDE3 apps with the latest KDE4, openSUSE 11.3 and Linux kernel 2.6.35? I can play CD’s, rip CD’s, play DVD’s, yes rip DVD’s, Play MP3, get on the Internet, get email, share files between computers, I can even play Movies in Dolby Digital 5.1. I have spent many many days, using lots of knowledge from past loads of openSUSE. How long does that take using Windows 7, if we add one extra program, openOFFICE? Maybe two hours and $120 plus tax. I can have hardware problems with any OS, but we know that Windows support is hard to beat.

So, what do we got here? The open source community is a whole lot more than how fast you can load a PC and how many mom and pops would load openSUSE on their kids machine, but what does it take to beat that popularity machine out there anyway? I say it will take a lot more than luck and this one thread, but we can always hope.

Thank You,

I thought it was a year, but happy to be wrong. Ubuntu’s success is utterly simple, same as microsoft’s success – brilliant marketing! So Ubu can release quite often so long as they keep up their brilliant marketing. And microsoft can release duds like millennium and vista, so long as they keep up their brilliant marketing.

Since there are either no marketeers at openSUSE or there’s a marketing budget constraint, they need another angle, and I think giving stability (or the look of stability) would help.

I agree it’s not an oS quality issue. I just think that giving the appearance of longevity and stabilty could do nothing but good (to any and every distro).

I don’t think this one thread will make a scrap of difference. I don’t think Novell could give two hoots what I think (or even one hoot). I’m a realist just chatting over coffee.

You talk about how long you take to get oS the way you want it – well, wouldn’t it be good if you didn’t have to rip it up in 8 months time, just apply a service pack, and 8 months after that again etc?

Regarding the sound of “service pack” being like windows’ strategy. Well that would inspire confidence in the community outside Linux, who are used to seeing their crummy operating system improve when an SP is released.

And maybe Linux users would be clever enough to see the marketing ploy in the words “service pack”, but if not that clever, maybe it could be called an “upgrade pack” or an “enhancement refurbishment” or an “integrated upgrade” or a “stability update” or nearly anything at all, the “green fix” perhaps.

I bid three hoots for your idea and a cup of coffee always sounds good to me. Keep hoping, dreaming and coming up with new ideas. Its one of the many things that keeps as all going.

Thank You,

If it were just marketing, Apple would have killed the PC market. MS had a series of events in their favor that gave them an edge and they ran with it. Once they had people locked in it was gravy.

Since there are either no marketeers at openSUSE or there’s a marketing budget constraint, they need another angle, and I think giving stability (or the look of stability) would help.

I agree it’s not an oS quality issue. I just think that giving the appearance of longevity and stabilty could do nothing but good (to any and every distro).

Like Debian? If you’re a network admin, this is valuable, but I don’t know that most regular users really care that much. In fact, most like to have the newest, greatest thing, and frequent releases may be attractive to some.

The support cycle is 18 months, isn’t it?

Ubuntu also offers a “Long Term Support” cycle as an alternative (3 yrs instead of 18 mos). Maybe something to consider if there were enough interest.


Yes, if you look at the Ubuntu offerings, they are actually about the same lifetime as openSUSE, except for the LTS releases. Long support openSUSE or openSLED something that has been discussed before, but Novell isn’t likely to resource this and there aren’t enough resources in the community to to do this, partly because SUSE opened up late relative to other distros.

What Ubuntu does well is pitch itself as the beginner’s distro, choices are whittled down to simplify, e.g. installation is all in one partition by default, default apps are a small set. They also do release upgrades well, having had more experience from the Debian heritage. I’m not sure there is room for two beginner distros in the market. Somebody has to do this sector and they do put Linux in the public eye. If I were introducing a newbie who just wants to use his computer as an appliance, I would install Ubuntu. I could then direct him to the tons of Ubuntu books for Idiots, etc.

I get the feeling that openSUSE users tend to be more savvy and want more control. There are a lot of things that could be improved, like release upgrades, third party repos, reducing the pain of dealing with proprietary drivers and restricted media, increasing use of openSUSE by developers (so that we get the packages), etc.

Personally I’d rather have online release upgrades that go smoothly than long-term support. There are so many new or updated apps coming out that backporting to a “stable” release can become a pain, Firefox being good example.

PS: I should also add that though this is bad from the e-waste point of view, the trend is towards changing the whole computer when upgrading. So there should be easy procedures for migrating user data to a newer machine. Again this would the suitable time to upgrade the distro release. So the lifetime doesn’t have to be several years. It would not be so bad for the e-waste if the computers were handed down or sold on eBay, etc.

A key point mentioned by @swerdna is ‘Stable’

But I’m still not sure what is under discussion here!?
Are we really meaning: Should there be a LTS version?

Because isn’t openSUSE already ‘Stable’?

I have only one prerequisite for LTS (I already assume stability)

  • Progressive Application Updates

The main reason I move on with each release is that for Example: Firefox as released with 11.? is locked in to the release version.
Yes you can add the build service. But for stability I don’t want to. In LTS I would want/need the latest ‘Stable’ version of Firefox, not the one from 2 years ago. If that means ‘Upstream’ updates, so be it.

OK, LTS if you like to call it that Carl. Any name is good. It’s the concept that matters. LTS as a concept doesn’t preclude updates that keep things like Firefox upgraded. That would be good.

Yes but I meant that the pressure to re-do the installation is really on an 8 month cycle. That’s OK for like us, but not for the broad community.

But it’s same with Ubuntu, they also have short cycles. The key difference is that online release updates work on Ubuntu, by and large. This capability with openSUSE is getting there, just need to get the gremlins out.

The problem with opensuse is it does not target a specific audience, it is a multi purpose distribution.

Ubuntu is different, it holds itself out to be a desktop operating system. It targets the biggest audience available, desktop users and does a better job than opensuse for desktop users. It gives them what they want.

Faster boot/shutdown

Easy installation of restricted stuff

Much more stable after release, take opensuse 11.3 for example. OpenOffice has a broken kde4 implementation and the langtool feature causes severe delays and has to be removed. Delayed nvidia/ati repos.

For the desktop user a package like openoffice is a priority.

Ubuntu has a much better wiki / documentation

Ubuntu has a really simple no nonsense installer.

A fully featured Ubuntu is on a CD vs Opensuse on a DVD = longer to download

Most people know opensuse is used by novell to enhance their commercial product, this alone sends out a negative perception, “I am using a second grade product”

It doesnt matter how well opensuse may work, that perception alone is hard to overcome. Ubuntu doesnt have that, efforts made to make ubuntu are 100% for ubuntu.

Ubuntu, who is the priority, the desktop user.

Opensuse, who is the priority?

Lets not forget the cough ms cough novell deal, as a result there are many people who deliberately avoid recommending the use of opensuse.

Marketing, that excuse is used too often. Try thinking outside of the box.

Why would I use opensuse over ubuntu as a desktop user?

Why would i use ubuntu over opensuse as a desktop user, for all the reasons above.

If you want to increase the uptake of opensuse, tell / show us why opensuse is better for desktop users over ubuntu.

Just a comment on one of your points, there are openSUSE LiveCDs, and you can install from them, if you were not aware.

A fully featured Ubuntu is on a CD vs Opensuse on a DVD = longer to download

The openSUSE LiveCD also loads (and can install) a fully featured distro, well as much as will fit in 700MB. The rest can be obtained over the net, just the same as Ubuntu. Have you really tried it, I wonder? It’s not necessary to fetch the DVD to have openSUSE install.

If your point was that restricted formats or whatever you had in mind are not included, that’s a different issue and has nothing to do with the size of the CD or the LiveCD technology.

openSUSE primarily targets power users. There have been discussions about this on the Survey board. Ubuntu targets beginners, people moving to Linux from Windows or such. They keep things simple.

You cant perform an upgrade using the opensuse livecd.