back to article OpenSUSE 13.2: Have your gecko and eat your rolling distro too

The great green gecko-wielding distro has undergone a major update with its latest release, openSUSE 13.2. This edition comes on the heels of some major changes for how openSUSE releases are structured. While the main release, like this week's 13.2, remains unchanged, the openSUSE project has merged its two unstable, semi- …

  1. phil dude
    Thumb Up

    testing...

    I have a new workstation about to arrive, and i asked them to stick 13.2 on an LVM so i can play with it.

    I am a SuSer, so no surprise. But they clearly think BTRFS is ready for prime time, so I will cautiously give it a shot.

    For those reading who are not Linux users BTRFS offers a copy-on-write facility which prevents your data from be accidentally damaged. e.g. from Cryptlocker or some other havoc reaper... This has been a common feature in professional environment for many years, so it is nice it makes it to the desktop. There are many others, but this one is probably very new to Windows users...

    I am still leaning towards ZFS, though I worry that Oracle has left a nasty patent surprise in the code somewhere....

    P.

    1. Nigel 9
      Thumb Up

      Re: testing...

      "For those reading who are not Linux users BTRFS offers a copy-on-write facility which prevents your data from be accidentally damaged. e.g. from Cryptlocker or some other havoc reaper... This has been a common feature in professional environment for many years, so it is nice it makes it to the desktop. There are many others, but this one is probably very new to Windows users..."

      Thanks for doing something that the Reviewer didn't bother with (explaining BTRFS) despite harping on about it for the entire last page of the review ;)

      1. Hans 1
        Windows

        Re: testing...

        Why do you think BTRFS is the current hot thing in the GNU/Linux ecosystem ? Where have you been over the last 5 years ?

        You can go a look at wikipedia as well, you know, before posting a comment ... just saying ...

        1. phil dude
          Boffin

          Re: testing...

          I mention it because filesystems are a thing of beauty and tragedy-about-to-occur...depending on what phase in development you meet them!!!

          I am well aware of BTRFS existence, but in this regard I am a user and therefore I am trying to communicate with other users. Now that a major (first?) distro has made it default, I am willing to give it a try and I recommend others also.

          My mulling about ZFS is that there are things I read in the depths of kernel conversations that make me want a backup (and I don't just mean tape...).

          P.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: testing...

            > filesystems are a thing of beauty and tragedy-about-to-occur

            Amen to that. Over the last 17 years of as a Linux user, I've lost data with the all the ext's, reiserfs, and xfs, jfs being the only honourable mention, which I still use by choice on Debian servers. I know I should be trying it, but potential data loss is not something that you choose, and btrfs seems very complicated. Glad it's here and maturing, though.

            1. phil dude
              Facepalm

              Re: testing...

              Yes:

              reiserfs once had a property of adding zeroes to the end of files after rebuild, although is generally the fastest for small files.

              ext's have caused panics when they have sporadic, Windoze like sudden urges to check the disk -on boot.... no online maintenance...

              xfs - can't resize the filesystem making it tiresome.

              jfs - very stable ,but doesn't benchmark well.

              The thing about BTRFS which is nice, is unlike ZFS it can be included in the kernel - and hence, can end up on Android devices too.

              With the huge address space of these new filesystems , it should be possible to have a system just "know" what files belong where.

              That Leonard Poettering guy said something similar, though he was talking about distros...

              P.

              1. yossarianuk

                Re: testing...

                You can resize XFS (live) - you cannot shrink it though.

                1. phil dude
                  Coat

                  Re: testing...

                  yes, if you downvote me that's ok. I take the term "resize" to mean both directions!!!

                  It's a hungry, hungry, FS perhaps?

                  P.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: testing...

          "Why do you think BTRFS is the current hot thing in the GNU/Linux ecosystem?"

          And where exactly either the article or the comment mentions that btrfs is the current hot thing? It just says that OpenSUSE is the first big name to adopt it as default.

        3. thames

          Re: testing...

          "You can go a look at wikipedia as well, you know, before posting a comment"

          Or, alternatively, he could thank someone who explained it in a post, or he could ask a question and hope that a knowledgeable person can answer it for him.

          I know what BTRFS is, and I've been following the news of its development for years. However, I don't see anything wrong with Nigel 9 admitting he wasn't familiar with it. The comment sections are here for us to talk to each other after all.

      2. illiad

        Re: testing...

        um you DO know how to google, I hope??? (its the very first result... :) )

  2. Scott Earle
    WTF?

    Gecko? Really?

    Chameleon, no?

    1. Kubla Cant Silver badge

      Re: Gecko? Really?

      Chameleon, yes.

      I wondered if it might be a chameleon standing in front of a gecko, but that's the wrong way round, and geckos don't change to look like their background.

    2. GrumpenKraut Silver badge

      Re: Gecko? Really?

      Chameleon. But "Gecko" is a nickname for it.

      1. MacroRodent Silver badge

        Re: Gecko? Really?

        > Chameleon. But "Gecko" is a nickname for it.

        Actually, the nickname is "Geeko".

        (I suspect the confusion happened at the beginning of SUSE because whoever decided on the mascot (or perhaps the one who first drew it) did not know the difference between a gecko and a chameleon, and the nickname business was invented to cover up the mistake).

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    YaST

    > YaST software manager, which looks and functions more or less the same in both GNOME and KDE

    And in the command line! :-) Useful for those of us looking after remote servers, headless machines and the like.

    Be warned though, that as the YaST rewrite into Ruby was done largely by an automated tool, it is far from optimal--it runs much slower and consumes a lot more memory, both of which are noticeable on low performance machines.

  4. Oh Homer
    Childcatcher

    Avoid btrfs like the plague

    I experimented with btrfs for nearly two years, on a heavily used desktop cum media server, and the results were appalling. I dread to think how it would cope in an enterprise environment, if it can't even deal with my little desktop.

    The first big showstopper is that, apparently, 7 years on, btrfs still doesn't have a fully functional fsck utility - a fact that I find truly mind boggling. I mean, seriously, how hard can it be, Oracle?

    Worse still was the performance, which was cripplingly slow, due to the vast overhead imposed by the fallacy of trying to implement a database as a filesystem. Lags of 20 to 30 seconds were not uncommon, and the startup was about 2 minutes slower than using ext4. This crippling effect actually intensified over time, due to that other "feature not a bug", where apparently btrfs becomes heavily fragmented ... by design - a concept I hoped I'd long since left behind with Windows. This was further compounded by the fact that btrfs lacks an online defragger, and neither its "autodefrag" mount option nor offline defragmentation seemed to make the slightest difference.

    Btrfs must surely qualify as one of the worst filesystems in computing history. It's a resource-sucking pig that thrashes hard drives and takes productivity back to the era of stone tablets, only worse, as it's actually much easier to recover lost data from stone tablets. The fact that the kernel crew are committed to abandoning ext4 in favour of this junk is simply terrifying.

    1. MacroRodent Silver badge
      Linux

      Re: Avoid btrfs like the plague

      How fresh are your experiences? btrfs has evolved, and I find it hard to believe the SUSE guys would pick that bad a file system. Maybe it has been fixed?

      (Personally I have no btrfs experience yet, xfs is my favourite, ext4 is also OK nowadays. ext3 was not, it really had a horrible performance).

      1. Adam Inistrator

        Re: Avoid btrfs like the plague

        Ive been using btrfs for hourly daily weekly monthly snapshotting of BACKUPS on a sync style backup server for about 10 small servers over the past few years. It has been a dream allowing trivially easy access to three months of file versions. zfs didnt allow me to reduce a pool size so I turned away from it early on. I thank SUSE's confidence in btrfs for enabling me to overcome the "beware" signs plastered all over btrfs a few years ago.

        1. phil dude
          Linux

          Re: Avoid btrfs like the plague

          Hence my curiosity that it has made it into a distro.

          My point about ZFS may have been missed. BTRFS is in the linux kernel, and can therefore be included in all the devices that linux supports. ZFS cannot.

          Your phone, tablet, laptop could be come portions of your home volume - and deduping keeps a canonical set.

          Think about that for a bit - it took a while to sink in...

          The problem is the vision for BTRFS have been obscured by the arguments over systemd - mainly due to the hyper-productive LP... Yes, he included BTRFS in a vision for a unified linux distro system.

          In summary, thanks for another success story I will give it a shot.

          P.

    2. Adam Inistrator

      Re: Avoid btrfs like the plague

      "The fact that the kernel crew are committed to abandoning ext4 in favour of this junk is simply terrifying." ... or indicates that you are hysterical and/or dont know what you are talking about

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Avoid btrfs like the plague

      I know nothing about btrfs, but your comment does sound a lot like those people complaining about KDE4 on the basis of a first release put out over five years ago.

      Have you tried the btrfs on OpenSUSE 13.2? Else, please explain why we should pay any attention to your comment.

      1. Oh Homer
        Facepalm

        Re: Avoid btrfs like the plague

        Please explain why I should rise to the challenge of someone who openly concedes to being completely ignorant about btrfs, versus someone who actually used it every day for two years?

    4. alcalde

      Re: Avoid btrfs like the plague

      Just put OpenSUSE 13.2 and BtrFS (/ and home) on a new PC build. With a cheap SSD it boots in about 8 seconds past the boot menu. It definitely doesn't add "minutes" to booting.

      >Btrfs must surely qualify as one of the worst filesystems in computing history.

      You had a bad experience with alpha-level software and you feel this qualifies to pronounce judgement on its current form?

      > It's a resource-sucking pig

      For kicks I've had BtrFS running on a circa-2005 laptop with a 32-bit, single core AMD Sempron processor, 512MB of RAM, and a 4200RPM(!!!) 75GB IDE hard drive. It works just fine, but the system does slow down if snapper is attempting to do a diff after making an automatic snapshot. Turning that off resulted in no noticable performance/resource difference from ext4 with LVM.

      > that thrashes hard drives

      The only thrashing on the laptop is caused by swap file usage when too many tabs are open in FireFox. On my new 18GB desktop, no thrashing at all.

      >The fact that the kernel crew are committed to abandoning ext4 in favour of this junk is simply

      >terrifying.

      Or they're not dummies and know what they're doing.

  5. h4rm0ny
    Pint

    SuSE

    SuSE 6.4 was my first ever GNU/Linux system. I eventually drifted to Gentoo and then on to Debian which is what I use today. But SuSE started me off. It's good to see it still going strong. And it's good to see BTRFS taking off after a rocky start. I might set this up on a box to try it out. Anyway, pint for the memories. :)

  6. wolfetone Silver badge
    Happy

    openSuSE beats Ubuntu

    I should know - I've been testing different distro's on my work laptop looking for the perfect environment to do my development work in. I'm the only Linux machine in an office (and server) full of Windows.

    openSuSE just works. I can get to the server without any issue, it's quick loading the files and saving them. LibreOffice is awesome in this release, works so much better than the one found on Ubuntu 14.04. Finally as well, GNOME 3 is beautiful. I'm still rocking the version of GNOME that came with Debian 7 on my private laptop, and the world of difference is incredible. I always liked GNOME 3, but now I love it.

    Whats more, is that openSuSE was near enough the first distro I used back in mid-2000's after my brief flirtation with Red Hat came to an end, although I moved on to Fedora in 2008/2009 and never went back to openSuse until this week. I remember reading an article at the time that if you were to compare distro's to cars, Ubuntu would be the Ford Fiesta while openSuSE would be the Mercedes. Now, nearly 10 years on, the same actually still rings true to me.

    I'm just so impressed with it, I can't speak highly enough of it. Before I used this version Debian 7 was the be all and end all for me. But now I'm giving serious consideration to removing that from my private laptop and sticking openSuSE on it.

    Well done guys, well bloody done!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: openSuSE beats Ubuntu

      It's horses for courses and I'm sure other distros fit the bill perfectly well for other users (as it should be), but I am also a big fan of OpenSUSE, and have been for about ten years. :)

  7. sb56637

    A few comments and corrections

    Thanks for the nice review! I'm an old openSUSE user, spent a year on an Arch-based distro, and now I'm back on openSUSE and happy to be here again. It is indeed a nice, stable choice for people who want to get to work without hassling constantly with the distro.

    Small correction: the Gnome Weather app is present on the Gnome Live image, although I uninstalled it. Gnome Software is also installed by default, and it seems to work OK. It's just that the amount of available applications are so limited in Gnome Software. I wish openSUSE would write its own "Software Center" type of app, like Ubuntu has.

    > "openSUSE uses its own cross-desktop YaST software manager, which looks and functions more or less the same in both GNOME and KDE — something of a rarity in software managers"

    Actually, the software manager *IS* the same in both Gnome and KDE. It's the QT interface that is being used across the board, although the rest of the YaST modules have an available GTK interface.. There is a YaST sw_single module coded in GTK too, but it has major bugs and has been jettisoned in favor of the less buggy QT sw_single module.

    > "If you'd like to have the stable base, but want something closer to a rolling release distro, there's always Tumbleweed.®"

    This isn't technically correct. Unlike the old Tumbleweed branch, which updated user apps on top of the most current openSUSE released version, the new Tumbleweed (https://news.opensuse.org/2014/10/24/tumbleweed-factory-rolling-releases-to-merge/) is actually a proper rolling release where everything is continually updated, including the kernel and drivers and the rest of the base system. My personal trick for achieving something close to a rolling distro with a stable base is install the openSUSE fixed release (13.2 at the moment) and then adding selected OBS repositories to make most of the user apps roll with the latest version without touching the OS core. Pretty nice compromise, in my opinion.

    Thanks again for the article!

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