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September 24, 2012
The openSUSE Linux distribution has seen some big changes in recent months. And more may be on the way, according to the project’s new chairman, Vincent Untz. Here’s what he had to say in a recent interview about openSUSE’s goals for the future.
Back in the summer, openSUSE faced a bit of a crisis as developers delayed a release target date and raised questions about the project’s overall direction. But things have been looking brighter since then. openSUSE 12.2 was released earlier in September 2012, introducing a string of new features. And just last week, Alan Clark, director of Industry Initiatives, Emerging Standards and Open Source at SUSE (the company that develops SUSE Linux Enterprise and is a major backer of openSUSE) and chairman of the board at openSUSE, was elected chairman of the newly formed OpenStack Foundation.
Untz, who has replaced Clark as new chairman of the openSUSE board, hopes to “keep doing the good work [Clark] has been pushing.” In particular, he spoke about a set of key areas of focus for the project going forward. The major items, as he explained them, include:
Improving communication within the openSUSE community. This will mean better coordination between developers and board members, as well as users and the broader community.
Better leveraging openSUSE’s financial resources. Currently, while openSUSE has some money of its own, it relies on SUSE to handle its financial affairs. That simplifies things administratively for openSUSE, but it also makes it harder for the project to receive donations and sponsor independent initiatives. Untz hopes to create new financial channels for openSUSE that will make it easier to do things such as send developers to hackfests and purchase hardware. The precise form that these channels might take has yet to be determined, but this is something that Untz plans to work on in conjunction with the openSUSE board.
Strengthening openSUSE’s relationship with sponsors. Right now, openSUSE is most obviously identified with SUSE itself. But SUSE, according to Untz, “is not the main force inside the [openSUSE] project.” It’s an important partner, but the project has other major backers as well. Untz envisions forging closer ties with all of openSUSE’s supporters so that the project assumes a more independent identity.
Asked how SUSE might react to the last initiative, Untz — who is currently a SUSE employee as well as the openSUSE chairman — affirmed that executives at the company had offered their full support for he and his board to “do whatever is best for openSUSE.” SUSE, he said, recognizes that its own projects may not align precisely with those of openSUSE.
The objectives that Untz laid out will involve a lot of work, but if achieved, they also promise to strengthen the openSUSE world in major ways. We’ll keep a close eye on openSUSE as developers and community leaders begin putting these plans into action.
Christopher Tozzi started covering the channel for The VAR Guy on a freelance basis in 2008, with an emphasis on open source, Linux, virtualization, SDN, containers, data storage and related topics. He also teaches history at a major university in Washington, D.C. He occasionally combines these interests by writing about the history of software. His book on this topic, “For Fun and Profit: A History of the Free and Open Source Software Revolution,” is forthcoming with MIT Press.
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