Apr 28, 2012

Recent changes in openSUSE Factory - Kernel and X.Org

Just a quick note on two topics regarding the openSUSE distribution:


Linus has released Linux 3.4 RC4 and you can get it as usual as RPM from the openSUSE Build Service in the Kernel:HEAD repository (download it here). it's expected that kernel 3.4 will be the openSUSE 12.2 kernel.
Jeff Mahoney has disabled a couple of options to make the resulting kernel image smaller and faster to build. He disabled DECNet and ARCnet and LocalTalk drivers on
i386-default. Also many drivers that only be used on embedded hardware are disabled. The last change was not done for ARM.
Full details are in his email message.


Dominique and Vincent have updated X.Org to the current 1.12.1 release and all the packages are now available for testing (check this email for details). During the update they splitted each tar ball in his own package and also updated the metadata for it so that now "osc collab" (install the package osc-plugin-collab from openSUSE:Tools to use it) and the build service status view will show available upstream show version.

Apr 27, 2012

openSUSE's Freight Train

A new year comes with new goals and plans. The year 2013 for SUSE starts on the 1st of April 2012 and one of the goals is to increase the amount of effort SUSE engineers put into openSUSE. So, we'll see soon in openSUSE more SUSE engineers actively contributing to Factory.

More active people means more conflicting needs and interests! To preserve our culture of "just do it" and "have fun", we've established a mail address where everyone (volunteer or not) can mail to if he/she feels there is a blockage in either the "doing" or the "fun". Such blockages can be documentation, procedures, technology and tools, or people.

A team of people who've been around for a while and know the technical as well as social side of openSUSE is there, dedicated to make sure you can do and have fun - currently: Henne Vogelsang, Jos Poortvliet and myself will take care of any complaints you send to them via freighttrain@opensuse.org. We'd also. For more details, read also the Freight Train wiki page. We also welcome more people to join our team - and hope that the freight train will not become a problem.

Why do we use the word "freight train" here? The openSUSE community consists of many different people - and some of them are able to work full-time on openSUSE, perhaps as part of a team of others. Those people might have a faster drive than others - and might "roll them over". We'd like to avoid these situations and whenever they happen to help fixing.

Apr 20, 2012

openSUSE Factory switched to GCC 4.7

The GNU Compiler Collection (gcc) version 4.7 was released a month ago and comes with the usual optimzation improvements and changes to follow newer standards like the new C11 revision of the ISO C standard and the ISO C+11 standard. A full list of changes is available on the gcc wiki.

The openSUSE project has now changed the compiler settings so that by default gcc 4.7 is used. Over the last several weeks, a couple of engineers led by Dominique Leuenberger have used in the open build service a project where all packages of openSUSE Factory were compiled with gcc 4.7 and then those packages that did not build were fixed. A handful of packages needs still updating but AFAIK more than 100 packages were fixed to build with gcc 4.7 - and some were fixed to build again with current packages in Factory.
At least two packages triggered bugs in gcc, one of them is now fixed in upstream gcc and also our gcc package (thanks to the upstream gcc maintainer Richard G√ľnther who is also the openSUSE gcc package maintainer), the other bug is still being investigated.

The switch to gcc 4.7 will now affect all the packages that built against factory but are not part of factory - once these get rebuild with the new gcc, the better standard conformance of the compiler, might lead to build failures.

For failing packages, the advise is to check first whether there's an upstream patch to fix the failure, then try fixing it yourself (often just a missing include), and then ask on the opensuse-factory mailing list or on the Freenode #opensuse-factory IRC channel for help.

If you like to test a package with several compilers, it's easy to do since openSUSE Factory currently includes a couple of GCC versions that can be installed in parallel.
The gcc package will install gcc 4.7 thus "gcc" is the command to use (or "gcc-4.7"), the gcc46 package contains a gcc 4.6 that can be used with "gcc-4.6" and there are also gcc41 and gcc43 packages. Another compiler that is available is llvm.

Apr 2, 2012

Btrfs Fixes for openSUSE

openSUSE 12.1 is the first distribution that allows the creation of btrfs partitions in the installer. It also comes with a nice tool called snapper for managing snapshots of systems.

SUSE released a few weeks ago SUSE Linux Enterprise 11 Service Pack 2 which supports btrfs now as a file system and thus it's not a technology preview anymore. The SUSE Linux Enterprise team has done a lot of testing of btrfs and fixed many bugs - and backported btrfs fixes from the upstream kernels into the Linux 3.0 kernel that is used in the SUSE Linux Enterprise 11 SP2. openSUSE 12.1 comes with the newer Linux 3.1 kernel and the SUSE Labs kernel engineers have also added the same fixes that have been added to the enterprise kernel to this openSUSE kernel.

The 3.1.9 kernel which was released for openSUSE early February contained all fixes at that time. Additional fixes have been added since then and will be in the next update. These fixes include stability fixes and handling of errors.
For those that want to have the current kernel - before it gets released -, you can grab the kernel compiled daily from the kernel git repository by the openSUSE Build Service from one of our mirrors.

The openSUSE kernel team has more information about Linux kernels for openSUSE on its own web site http://kernel.opensuse.org.

I'd like to thank especially David Sterba, Jeff Mahoney and Mark Fashesh for debugging btrfs issues, fixing them and for backporting all the btrfs fixes to the openSUSE kernel!