My views on openSUSE LTS

There has been a lot of discussion recently on the viability of a Long Term Support release for openSUSE. Some have proposed a separate LTS version, some a rolling release called Tumbleweed. Some have shown support for both, suggesting they coexist as separate sub-projects. Yet others have suggested we create an openSLES, a "free as in free beer"(to think that this phrase even exists) version for SUSE Enterprise, much like what the CentOS people do with RedHat Enterprise Linux.

This discussion has spiralled into multiple threads on the opensuse-project list. The threads have been linked to at the end of this post.

My reply in regards to the discussion is summed up below:-

1. I have a feeling the two being analogised to CentOS is a bit unfair. openSUSE's relation with SLE has always been more the Fedora to RHEL kind. We, as a project, form a base, not a copy of SUSE's enterprise offerings, if typically more conservatively than competition.

2. openSUSE has the direct primary sponsorship of Novell. CentOS has no official affiliation with RH. An openSLES may antagonise Novell/SUSE/Attachmate's friendly approach.

3. Offering of an LTS version alternately with a couple of normal versions has not been discussed. I wonder why. Ubuntu does that quite appreciably, (though I have never personally encountered an Ubuntu-powered server).
From Wikipedia, "To date every fourth release, in the second quarter of even-numbered years, has been designated as a Long Term Support (LTS) release, indicating that it has updates for three years for desktop use and five years for server"

To say what that means, let's say we have 12.0 as LTS(5 release cycle support), then 12.1, 12.2 and 12.3 with normal 2.2 cycle support. Then again 13.0 as LTS, and so on. This will cause an LTS version to be perennially active, while having a "cutting edge" version for systems here stability is not primary.
This would help a only one extra already present older version needs to be maintained, reducing stress on the developers.

4. The point mooted in (3) can also help on standardising a versioning scheme, the need for which was discussed but never finalised some time earlier, probably on the marketing and project lists.

5. Nelson Marques has a point. Too many offerings would cause confusion. Normal openSUSE vs openSUSE LTS vs openSUSE Tumbleweed vs openSLES has already confused me to an extent.

6. Someone suggested binary compatibility with SLES would make people recommend SLES for paid-for-support Linux. While I appreciate Novell's roles in what openSUSE is today, I personally feel SLES sales figures are not supposed to be the concern of the openSUSE project.
Furthermore, even openSUSE can be paid-for-support Linux, considering people pay for 90 day support or something like that when they buy the box.

[1] Announcing openSUSE Tumbleweed project Nov '10 Dec'10
[2] openSUSE LTS Nov '10 Dec'10
[3] Packman for Tumbleweed

Semantics is Restricting Linux Desktop Adaptation.

This is a direct copy of a post on the Blog of HeliOS, a project based in Texas that I strongly feel for, who in their own words - "build computers for disadvantaged kids in the Austin-Metro area"
From :

Originally posted on Monday, May 31, 2010

Taken from Merriam-Websters Online Dictionary.


The meaning or relationship of meanings of a sign or set of signs; especially
: connotative meaning b
: the language used (as in advertising or political propaganda)
to achieve a desired effect on an audience especially through the use of words with novel or dual meanings
(emphasis mine).

This has been gestating within me for over a year. An incident yesterday brought it to full term and I thought I would share some thoughts on this topic with you...maybe to complete derision...

Maybe not.

Regardless, I am going to broach the subject here.

Her name is Margie and she is the Grandmother to three small boys, ages 7, 9 and 11. I went there yesterday as part of our Twenty Computers in Twenty Days project and installed a desktop computer for these kids. The mother and father of these boys haven't been seen since mom dropped the kids off three years ago. She was "going out for the evening" and Grandma agreed to babysit.

It appears that her evening isn't over yet...She wrote once from Los Angeles and said that she was going to be sending for the boys as soon as she got her first paycheck. That was in 2008.

The boys are well-adapted though...outwardly you wouldn't know that the most important person in their world had betrayed them in the most insidious of ways. Their grades are good and they are all bilingual between Spanish and English.

Outwardly you wouldn't know...

They were thrilled that they were getting a computer. It took me only a few minutes to set it up and get it going. Margie had arranged for internet service prior to my arrival so when the machine came on, it was fully connected to the internet.

That's when the questions started.

Shortly after the Desktop was established, the obligatory popup appeared, stating that "Restricted Drivers" were available for installation.

Margie asked me then: "What does that mean?"

This has happened easily over 100 times in the five years we've been doing this. Most people never notice it but some do, and some are disturbed by it.

Margie was.

Even after I took the time to fully explain the whole proprietary driver thing to her, that word still lingered.


See, most people to my experience take words literally. When someone is faced with the term "Restricted" it forms in their mind that they are not to use whatever is deemed "Restricted". Even after my lengthy explanation and after telling her that some desktop functionality and most of the games wouldn't work right without the "Restricted" drivers, she still insisted that she did not want them installed.

Again, from Merriam-Webster:

c : not intended for general circulation or release
And from - restricted:

confine, limit situation or ability to participate

bind, bottle up, bound, chain, check, circumscribe, come down on, constrict, contain, contract, cool down, cramp, curb, decrease, define, delimit, delimitate, demarcate, demark, diminish, encircle, enclose, hamper, handicap, hang up, hem in, hold back, hold down, impede, inclose, inhibit, keep within bounds, keep within limits, moderate, modify, narrow, pin down, prelimit, put away, put on ice, qualify, reduce, regulate, restrain, send up, shorten, shrink, shut in, surround, temper, tether, tie

To Margie, Restricted translated simply to illegal or forbidden. To her mind, if the system was telling her that something is "Restricted" then it should not be used. End of discussion.

Again, this isn't the first time this has happened. I personally do not see the harm in framing the popup in this manner.

Look...there are a number of reasons that Linux as a Desktop alternative hasn't gained more popularity...but to bottle ourselves off from mainstream use over a badly chosen word is goofy.

Yeah, and I know..."but that's the way it's done"... and "The majority of people understand"..."It's not that big of deal...blah blah blah.

To just over 10 percent of the people I've installed for, it is a big deal.

Think for a minute...think about how outsiders perceive the Linux infrastructure. It is foreign enough with the file system, not to mention the application associate any application or data in Linux as "Restricted" isn't helping our cause. Of course, some of you could not care less.

Oh yeah...applications...let's get into that for a minute.

About six months ago, we did a long distance deal where CPS (Child Protective Services) asked us to provide a laptop to a 17 year old girl in San Antonio who needed one badly. I explained that these things never worked well as I could not physically go to San Antonio for the setup and familiarization session. Against my better judgment, I FEDEX'ed the laptop there. I was assured that this would not be a problem as someone there would be available to help her with a Linux Desktop.

Obviously there wasn't.

I started getting emails from her, complaining that she couldn't "download" anything. Remember that to the Windows user, "download" and "Install" have some definite blurred lines. The "run" option once the download is completed usually keeps the user in the dark as to where the actual download landed. They most times don't touch the EXE file...Windows does that for them.

Bless their hearts.

Hide the most basic of functions from your users in the name of convenience. That pretty much insures you propagate the Stupid User Syndrome. Can't see any obvious motive for that anywhere around...

So I explained to her that Linux handled the installation of software differently. I took over an hour to "familiarize" her with her desktop and the functions therein.

By the end of the call, I wanted to run red-hot knitting needles through my eyes.

Multiple times.

Chewing a rounded cup of shattered windshield glass was my second choice, given the scarcity of knitting needles.

To be fair, I have to admit that I suspect this child couldn't run her Windows computer with much more skill than a Linux machine. She is not a "computer user". She is what I describe as a "task-set mouse clicker". She's learned to do a limited set of tasks such as Facebook, MySpace, email and Everything else pretty much mystifies her. Anything after that is mostly Voodoo.

But still...we could do better and we could start at the beginning.

Synaptic. What in the hell is "Synaptic"? Aside from a term used in describing or talking about the nervous system.

Sure...we know what it is, but what in the actual word "Synaptic" tells us that it is the system's primary software management system. Agreed, it is sometimes listed that way in the menu but to the uninitiated, the word "synaptic" has no mental match with "software installation".

Look, I am far from the first to bring this up. We've been talking about it since the early to mid 2000's and still not much has been done about it.




I'll leave the rest for comments. I could click my gnome menu and list a dozen cryptic application names but ya'll know them as well as I do. Again in the name of fairness, my distro of choice as well as Ubuntu has went a long way in putting side-tags on these names to better describe them.

But still "We" could do better. It's obvious that most Linux application authors don't put a lot of thought into their app naming or if they do, they do so to amuse their peers.

Whaddaya say we take the New Linux User into consideration.

They are your future and I have enough field experience with this to confidently tell you that they are confused. Sometimes to the point of shrugging off Linux and becoming just one more of the "Linux Sucks" crowd.

Again, some of you don't particualarly care about new users...I mean, you already know what you need to know about running your system. You rest assured of your geek superiority and glance over your glasses in condescending glances. To you, all is right with the world and the rest of them can eat cake.

All-Righty Then.

A long rant

It is done, and it is past
How was it when it did last

Loved at times, hated it too
Too less time, a lot to do

I look back and I see it now
Why I dropped, and I see how

I went in from the grandest chair
Then suddenly there was no flair

What I dreamt of in older days
Had suddenly parted ways

My newer dreams were not of mine
I got them not, was I not trying

I just looked for the greater good
Ignoring some things more than I should

My spark had all but gone off then
I did not excel, don't know since when

But then I had to turn around
A rejenuvated flow I found

A hallucinating dream it was
It hit my head as such a thing does

I could now see the path ahead
I could not look on to old in dread

Losing this path would take me too far
I won't return from another scar

With conviction I turned away
The alternate price unwilling to pay

Today as I stand and look back down
I still call those steps my own

Some feelings then might have gotten hurt
Still for my own sake I was as curt

People look to their own good a lot
To do so too is no great blot

I care not much if for my sake
Anyone sad I did make

I did it not for malice please
Nor was it a matter of ease

It matters not now any more
I am too busy to the core

I wont waste more in useless fields
Now I must work till result yields

I am right back to olden days
I am on track in my own ways

Now I must go I will be back
Let me go down my beaten track

These lines are gonna draw me flak
Yet no reason to give it slack

Title inspired by : found through Sayesha's blog.
P.S. title inspiration is independent of lyric inspiration. This is an independent work which shall have comments by some people. I want them to post their views on the comments section and not on my IM. If not for anything else then for GFDL's sake.

Back to blogs

For the last year or so, I had seriously convinced myself that I had successfully consolidated my number of blogs to 2 places [1] [2]. So, I thought, now there will come a flurry of posts, each pre-empting the reader's expectation, and the number of interesting pieces will skyrocket. Yet, the result of 8 months of so-called structured blogging has produced little or no stuff worth reading twice.

    In fact, I had achieved atleast a bit more respectable results with my older blogs, meant for specific circles, which the few people that read them would often come back to. I feel that the dip in form is owed very greatly to a further loss in the creative streak I never had. This came about for many reasons, including but not limited to the increase in amount of work I did, especially in non-innovative lines, such as studying for exams, or repititive work. At first I thought you can not write if you work more than you are used to, but then I realised it could not possibly be so simple. The three things that made me understand this were :

1. Many people who are working much more than I do, are still creating pieces much more beautiful than I could ever imagine. Won't list examples, you'll get enough of them here.

2. I worked more in my sixth sem, but wrote less in my seventh.

3. I realised I was never that creative anyway.

    Then I somewhat comprehended what it took to write the best you can. You don't have to work or not work. You just have to choose something, anything, and feel strongly for it. You can love it or hate it, but it gives you a direction, a focus for your energies, that help in getting the author in you to flow. In fact one need not just write, any work of art, be it painting/singing or whatever else, one gets to start afresh and start well if one can define a purpose or inspiration.

    Today, as I sit and write this by wasting precious national resources, that of a governmental supercomputer, I can say I see two inspirational sources, that might give direction or coherence to my thoughts. Whether my assumptions of inspiration succeed in helping me out of written lulldom, only time, as they saqy, will tell. So let's see what this year brings about in my life, both in terms of inspiring events and the blogposts it brings along. Will revisit this blog on the other end of this year.

Signing off for now.


Update : Another piece by Shourjya For our "SAKES"(click here to read)

This is a poem by Shourjya Sanyal, Founder Director, tHINKbIOsOLN.
A bit of blank verse. Not my style, but I liked it anyway.

The lonely Knight went up the stair,
the princess alone up the tower
He had been brave,
dragon he had slaughtered oft,
kingdoms vanquished many

Yet deep down he hold the (prin)cess and down he looks on the land,
on yonder there a shepherd stands amidst his flock,
like an epic god of orient stock.

Up the stairs the winner stand lonely with his prize,
yet he wants to be down
on the ground and look yonder at the beauty up,
a quick glance, a quick stare, and feel the beauty from down there.

A winner born , a curse is spelled,
no way can with his might he can repel.
He stands close yet so far,
and wishes to be far yet so close.

Meanings not the sentence make,
but understand once the riddle break.

Distance fades and might may whine,
the love stays on so do I.